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Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) listened to testimony from former Secretary of State Madeline Albright during a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on February 27, 2019. (Photo: Screesnhot/C-SPAN)

WATCH: Democrat Ilhan Omar Questions Madeline Albright on Use of Sanctions and Failures of US Military Intervention

"As someone who understands the horrors of war firsthand," noted Minnesota Democrat, "I worry when we fail to consider the human toll of war and our moral responsibility to the people of these countries."

Eoin Higgins

While much of the country was watching the testimony of Michael Cohen on Wednesday, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was questioning former Secretary of State Madeline Albright in a separate, largely vacant hearing room about sanctions and the pitfalls of past U.S. military interventions.

"Some scholars and practitioners of foreign policy have questioned whether sanctions are effective in changing the behavior of certain governments," Omar said, pointing out that economic sanctions can have dire effects on the innocent populations of targeted countries.

Albright, who once infamously told 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children due to sanctions were "worth it" to get rid of then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, said sanctions still have a role to play in American foreign policy.

Sanctions should be understood as a foreign policy tactic between diplomacy and force, explained Albright.

"We have learned a lot about sanctions," said Albright. "We learned that comprehensive sanctions, which we did in Iraq, hurt the people, and we began to look at targeted or smart sanctions."

Omar and Albright's exchange came during a hearing (pdf) in the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday entitled "The Trump Administration’s Foreign Policy: A Mid-Term Assessment." Albright was on hand to discuss the administration's priorities and didn't hold back in her assessment of the first two years of the Trump doctrine. 

"The administration’s record is marked by confusion, inconsistency, a lack of diplomacy, and, in some cases, a complete abdication of responsibility," Albright said in her testimony, adding that the State Department's funding and staffing woes were adding to a loss of U.S. standing in the world. 

Newly-elected to the House, Omar joined The Intercept's Medhi Hassan this week to discuss her first two months in office. Listen to the podcast here.

Watch the full exchange between Omar and Albright below:


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