- The Washington Times - Monday, May 12, 2003


Coalitions among governments should go beyond politics to establish security “built on mutual benefits, not better bombs,” Queen Noor of Jordan told graduates of the College of William & Mary yesterday.

Queen Noor said at the college’s commencement in Williamsburg that countries should work together to build peace by connecting people on every level.

“It certainly is a critically important moment for building coalitions but on very different terms,” said Queen Noor, the American-born widow of Jordan’s King Hussein. “Not an axis of self-interest between states for political ends, but true partnerships between people based on respect for our shared values, needs and fundamental human rights, and also on respect for our differences.”

William & Mary was one of several Virginia colleges conducting graduation ceremonies yesterday. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, prime minister of Denmark, spoke at Hampden-Sydney College, where his son Henrik was among the 197 graduates, while actor and comedian Bill Cosby was to address students at Hampton University.

Joining the queen at the William & Mary graduation was former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, also a former chancellor of the school. Mrs. Thatcher’s appearance was kept secret until William & Mary President Timothy J. Sullivan said in his opening remarks that she had mentioned she would be in the country during the time of the commencement.

Wearing a William & Mary robe, Mrs. Thatcher praised Queen Noor in her remarks to the crowd, calling her a “quiet source of strength and calm” in a region of turbulence and violence. She also said King Hussein was a friend of Great Britain and that she always sought his advice.

“He was the outstanding Arab statesman of his generation,” Mrs. Thatcher said.

Mrs. Thatcher said that although she could not have foreseen the recent events in Iraq when she last spoke at William & Mary, three years ago, the conflict was a “just war to uphold what is right.

“I am proud that Britain stood by America in the conflict.”

In Iraq and Afghanistan, “the forces of tyranny and oppression have been routed,” she said.

Mr. Rasmussen sounded a similar theme at Hampden-Sydney, saying, “In the struggle between democracy and dictatorship, you cannot stay neutral. We must tirelessly fight for and defend human rights.”

Referring to the Iraqi people, Mr. Rasmussen said, “Our vision and goal is to replace old hatreds with new hopes.”

Queen Noor criticized a trend she has seen since the September 11 attacks that has led many governments to emphasize a “defensive rather than a comprehensive concept of security.”

She said her experiences as a queen, as a mother and as a human rights activist have convinced her that world peace is possible only if coalitions go beyond government to embrace the energy of women and the young.

She said women are natural coalition builders. “In working for what is best for their families, they can cut across ethnic, religious and tribal lines,” she said.

Queen Noor said young people have also shown their abilities through contributions in such organizations as the Peace Corps. She said she was impressed that William & Mary sends a higher percentage of graduates to the Peace Corps than any other college.

“Strange as it may seem from where I stand now,” she said, “if my life hadn’t taken the startling turn it did 25 years ago, I would have become a Peace Corps volunteer.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide