Madeleine Albright, first woman secretary of state, dies aged 84

Marie Jana Korbelova was born on May 15, 1937 in Prague. She was variously called Madla, Madlan and Madlenka before her French studies led her to the version of her first name she liked, Madeleine.

In 1938, Czechoslovakia found itself at the epicenter of a crisis in Europe, coveted by German dictator Adolf Hitler but theoretically protected by France and Britain. It all ended with the Munich Agreement, a notorious act of naivety that attempted to placate Hitler by accepting his territorial demands.

Nazi Germany gobbled up most of Czechoslovakia in two bites and on March 25, 1939, 10 days after the second bite, Albright’s family fled and settled in England. During the war that followed, the émigré community in England made a film about their plight and young Madeleine got a leading role. As payment, she received “a pink stuffed rabbit,” which became her beloved companion.

Raised in the Roman Catholic faith, she learned in 1997 of her family’s decision to convert from Judaism – and that three of her grandparents, who had been left behind in Europe, had perished in the Holocaust. Dobbs discovered her family history while doing research. The discovery brought unwanted criticism of her parents and complications for her sense of personal identity.

“I am a staunch admirer of the Jewish tradition, but – beginning at the age of 59 – I could not quite feel a part of it,” she later wrote of her newfound Jewish roots in Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance. and War, 1937-1948.”

After the Nazis were gone from Eastern Europe, the Soviets filled the void. Albright’s family briefly returned to Czechoslovakia, but then came to the United States in 1948 and settled in Colorado, where her father taught international relations at the University of Denver. “I’ve done everything I can to conform, but I couldn’t help but know that in our time, even distant choices can mean the difference between life and death,” she wrote in Fascism: A Warning.

She attended Wellesley College. After graduating, she married Joseph Medill Patterson Albright, from a wealthy and respected publishing family, and they moved to Chicago, where she took a job at the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The couple had three girls (twins Anne and Alice and then Katie) but their marriage ended in 1982 when he left her for another woman.

She became a US citizen in 1957 and entered the political world while raising funds for Senator Edmund Muskie’s unsuccessful 1972 presidential campaign. An event she planned at the Washington Hilton later became something of a Watergate footnote when she revealed the 200 pizzas that arrived out of order were part of Donald Segretti’s dirty trick campaign.

Albright continued to be an assistant to Muskie and was brought into the Carter administration in 1977, where he worked for Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was Carter’s national security adviser. Like them, Brzezinski was a European immigrant who was suspicious of the Soviet Union; he needed her to smooth out his troubled relations with Congress.

After the Carter years, she joined the faculty at Georgetown University and served as an advisor to Democratic candidates including Michael Dukakis. During Dukakis’ failed 1988 campaign, Albright met Bill Clinton. “She was the foreign policy adviser,” he later wrote in his autobiography. “I was very impressed by her intellectual clarity and toughness and decided to keep in touch with her.

Four years later, Clinton was elected President and he appointed Albright US Ambassador to the United Nations. It was in the midst of an unknown period in world politics: the end of the Cold War had left unclear what practical steps the world’s last superpower should take.

“The difference between being an academic and being a politician is suddenly you have to put your money where your mouth is,” she was quoted as saying in Russell Riley’s Inside the Clinton White House: An Oral History.

Albright was not a favorite of UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali – “She seemed to assume,” he later wrote, “that her mere assertion of a US policy should be enough to garner the support of other nations. She, in turn, helped build a coalition that would keep him out of a second term.

On December 5, 1996, Clinton selected her to succeed Secretary of State Warren Christopher. “She watched her world fall apart,” the recently re-elected president said in announcing her election, “and since then she has dedicated her life to spreading the freedom and tolerance her family has found here in America.” ”

Albright told Christopher, “I can only hope my heels can fill your shoes.” It was unanimously approved.

“I have sought advice from many people,” she wrote in Madam Secretary, “including all living foreign ministers. Henry Kissinger scolded me for taking away what made him unique, his foreign heritage. I berated him by saying he’s still the only secretary who speaks with an accent.”

After spending much of her time at the United Nations dealing with brutal fighting in Bosnia, Albright faced other crises in the former Yugoslavia, a nation fractured when ethnic and religious differences in the population became insurmountable had become.

When the United States intervened in the Kosovo region to protect the persecuted Albanian minority, it was dubbed by some as “Madeleine’s war.”

“The war in Kosovo, and Albright’s determined vision of it, has become more than just another regional conflict,” Isaacson wrote for Time. “It has become ground zero in the debate over whether America should play a new role in the world as the indispensable nation that asserts its morals as well as its interests to ensure stability, stop thugs and prevent human atrocities .”

Albright also worked on crises in the Middle East and Africa, and NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic, her home country. The nations of Eastern Europe had recently freed themselves from Soviet control. “We will continue to erase the line that Stalin’s bloody boot drew in Europe – without replacing it,” Albright said in 1999.

She was also part of efforts to improve relations with Vietnam, China and the countries of the former Soviet Union. In October 2000, she was the highest-ranking US official ever to visit North Korea to lure the country into the family of nations. It was a 40-way juggling act.

“Foreign policy is above all a management process, and you can’t take your eyes off the ball,” she is quoted as saying in Inside the Clinton White House.

Not all initiatives worked — efforts to forge a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians failed, as did the US operation in North Korea — but as she traveled the globe, from Angola to Italy, to Papua New Guinea and to Zimbabwe, she was a track blazer for women.

“I’m often asked if I’ve been treated condescendingly by men when I’ve traveled around the world to Arab countries and other places with very traditional cultures,” she wrote in Madam Secretary. “I said, ‘No,’ because when I got somewhere, it was on a big plane with ‘United States of America’ emblazoned on the side.”

After leaving office, she returned to Georgetown University and also became chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group and Albright Capital Management LLC. Over the years she was frequently heard on diplomatic matters of the day. Often on television alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell, she was a scathing critic of American leaders whom she felt were inadequate.

Her books include 2006’s The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs and 2018’s thoughtful and emphatic Fascism: A Warning.

In 2010, she was the subject of a unique exhibition at the Smithsonian, collecting pins and brooches that were part of her diplomatic arsenal. The jewelry, she said, served as an “icebreaker.”

“I had an arrowhead that looked like a rocket,” she said Smithsonian Magazine Back then, “when we were negotiating the ballistic missile defense treaty with the Russians, the Russian foreign minister asked, ‘Is that one of your interceptor missiles you’re carrying?’ And I said, ‘Yes. We make them very small. Let’s negotiate.’”

When he presented her with the Medal of Freedom in 2012, Obama noted her penchant for themed jewelry: “When Saddam Hussein called her ‘snake,’ she wore a snake on her lapel.”

Concluding her career, Obama also shared this story: “At a naturalization ceremony, an Ethiopian came up to her and said, ‘Only in America can a refugee meet the secretary of state.’ And she said, ‘Only in America can a refugee become Secretary of State.’”

During Donald Trump’s presidency, she kept a close eye on what she perceived as his mishandling of almost everything.

“The course I teach in Georgetown is about the tools of foreign policy and how to use them. From what I’ve seen, the President would have a hard time getting past it,” she wrote in Fascism: A Warning.

Myah Ward contributed to this report.

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/03/23/madeleine-albright-first-female-secretary-state-033120?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication Madeleine Albright, first woman secretary of state, dies aged 84

Fry Electronics Team

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