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Oil Industry Mixed on Albright
Energy Industry Has Mixed Reaction To Albright Nomination
Laurie Lande, 6 Dec 96
WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--News that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
Madeleine Albright had been nominated to be secretary of state was greeted
with mixed emotions by oil industry officials, many of whom had hoped
President Clinton would bring a new face to the important foreign policy post.
'This tells me the administration will run the foreign policy out of the
White House, and not the State Department,' said one industry analyst.
'Albright is a good team player. She won't rock the boat, but she also won't
be an independent thinker,' the source added.
Another industry official who said he has had dinner several times with the
ambassador echoed these sentiments.
'She is very capable in her current job. But this move suggests Clinton
didn't have the guts to put a strong, independent diplomat as secretary of
state,' he said. 'Clinton needs an astute politician for that post who can
sell foreign policy to Americans.'
But another official praised the appointment.
'She's a strong personality who can stand up to pressure. She has the
confidence to make unpopular decisions,' he said.
Several sources said they felt Albright's gender, just as much as her
abilities, helped her get the nomination, despite President Clinton's
'Clinton came under enormous pressure to appoint a woman to that job,' one
said, noting that Albright would be the highest-ranking woman in U.S.
government history. The secretary of state position is fourth in the line of
succession to the presidency. Ironically, Albright wouldn't be allowed to take
the job because she was born in another country.
Shift Of Direction Seen On Sanctions
Most sources said one area where she will be different from her predecessor
Warren Christopher is in her approach to sanctions. They believe she will be
less inclined to ask for unilateral sanctions on oil-producing nations, such
as those now in place against Iran.
'She understands unilateral sanctions policies are ineffective. I think she
will push more for a multilateral approach to economic sanctions,' said one
oil company executive.
'She's pretty strong on issues of constructive engagement, and that is on
top of our priority list for secretary of state. While she makes human rights
a priority, she has a pragmatic approach to the issue. I think industry will
be pretty comfortable with her in that regard,' said another executive.
Albright has much experience forming and maintaining coalitions, from her
work to keep U.N. sanctions on Libya to her efforts to uphold the six-year-old
U.N. embargo on Iraq.
'The one recent example people point to when they talk about sanctions that
work is Iraq. Albright really held the U.N. coalition (supporting sanctions)
together,' another source said.
Albright's experiences dealing with Iraq, however, are sure to color her
view if and when the U.S. must decide to resume ties with that nation. Her
disputes with Iraq's U.N. representatives got so personal at one point last
year that she was called a serpent by the Iraqi media, and in response she
prominently wore a brooch in the shape of a snake.
Might Favor Tough Burma Approach
Industry officials trying to prevent further U.S. sanctions on Burma are
concerned, however, with Albright's attitude towards that country. The
administration is already under pressure to tighten the economic noose on
Burma, also known as Myanmar, because of human rights abuses there.
Earlier this year, Congress passed conditional sanctions on Burma. The
sanctions, which include a ban on new U.S. investment there, are supposed to
be implemented if Burma's ruling military junta harrasses or re-arrests Nobel
Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
Albright is a strong supporter of Suu Kyi's, sources say. The ambassador was
one of the first Western diplomats to meet the Nobel Prize winner after her
1995 release from house arrest. Some believe these experiences make Albright
more sympathetic to the argument for sanctions.
'Based on her previous comments since her visit there, I would hope she'd be
a strong advocate for using the Cohen-Feinstein amendment in the way it was
originally intended: to cut off trade if conditions deteriorate,' said Mike
Jendrzejczyk, spokesman for Human Rights Watch Asia, a group that has asked
Washington to cut off trade with Burma.
But Jendrzejczyk acknowledged that Albright's views on the issue could
change once she takes office.
'She'll have different role to play. She'll have to represent the
administration's views as well as her own,' he said.
The American Petroleum Institute declined to comment on Albright's
nomination. An API spokesman said the institute rarely comments on political