Madeleine Albright, the United States’ First Female Secretary of State, Dies at the Age of 84

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Madeleine Albright, the United States’ first female secretary of state, dies at the age of 84.

Albright died Wednesday, according to a statement placed on her Twitter account by her family. Cancer was the cause.

Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state in the United States and a grand dame of Democratic foreign policy who penned books, sat on think tank boards, and warned of the dangers of fascism in the Donald Trump age, has died. She was 84 years old.

According to a statement put on Albright’s Twitter account by her family on Wednesday, she died. Cancer was the cause.

Albright was appointed by President Bill Clinton halfway through his two-term presidency in 1996, making her the highest-ranking woman in the United States government at the time. As the United States’ top diplomat, she advocated for the use of force as the Kosovo conflict devolved into ethnic cleansing. That was consistent with the harsh line Hillary had taken during Clinton’s ambassadorship to the United Nations during the Bosnian War.

 

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Later in life, she cited the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the failure to secure a Mideast peace settlement as two of her greatest regrets.

“Madeleine’s courage and fortitude aided in the consolidation of peace in the Balkans and paved the way for progress in some of the world’s most insecure regions,” President Barack Obama said in 2012 when he presented Albright with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honour.

“The impact that she has had on this building is felt every single day,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in response to the news of her death. As the first female Secretary of State, she paved the way for a sizable portion of our workforce.”

Clinton described Albright as a “amazing human being” and a “passionate force for liberty, democracy, and human rights” in a statement.

 

Pins with a message

Albright, who stood at 4 feet, 10 inches (1.5 metres), was renowned for his well-tailored clothes covered with pins or brooches depicting everything from balloons to deadly animals and chosen to convey a mood or an opinion. For example, after learning that the Russians bugged a conference room near her State Department office, she wore a pin shaped like a massive bug.

Albright’s size and demeanour concealed a formidable negotiation ability. Albright instructed security at the US ambassador’s residence to “Shut the gates!” when Yasser Arafat walked out of the Paris talks in 2000. As UN ambassador, she stated, “This is cowardice,” in response to Cuba’s 1996 downing of two unarmed Cessna aircraft.

Albright took direct aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin in an opinion essay published Feb. 23 in the New York Times, just before Russian forces invaded Ukraine. She revealed that on her way back to Washington from her first encounter with Putin in 2000, she jotted down her impressions of him: “Putin is little and pallid, almost reptilian in his coldness.”

“Rather than opening the way for Russia’s greatness,” she wrote in the piece, “invading Ukraine will secure Mr. Putin’s infamy by leaving his country diplomatically isolated, economically crippled, and strategically vulnerable to a stronger, more united Western alliance.”

In an interview with Bloomberg Television’s “The Close,” Leon Panetta, a former Clinton White House chief of staff, described Albright as a “Cold War warrior” who was “taught to understand what communism was and what the threat from Russia was all about.” Thomas Pickering, who served as Under Secretary for Political Affairs under Albright, stated in an interview with Bloomberg Radio’s “Sound On”: “She had little affection for Russia, and that scepticism and indeed suspicion about Russia has proven to be more accurate than any of us had reason to believe when I worked for her.”

 

Jewish ancestry

Albright observed directly the displacement of those deemed undesirable when she fled Czechoslovakia at the outbreak of World War II only to discover her own Jewish ancestry more than half a century later.

“In the end, no one who lived through the years 1937 to 1948 was immune to tremendous sadness,” Albright wrote in her memoir “Prague Winter.” “Millions of innocents perished, and their sacrifices must never be forgotten.”

Albright was born Marie Jana Korbel in Prague on May 15, 1937, the third child of diplomat Josef Korbel and the former Anna Spieglova. (According to the family statement following her death, her birth name was Korbelova.) When the German army invaded Poland in 1939, the family fled to London.

They returned to Prague following the war’s conclusion, only to relocate few months later to Belgrade, where her father served as ambassador. Albright was sent to a Swiss boarding school at the age of ten.

 

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In 1948, when the Communist Party seized power in Czechoslovakia, her father accepted a position on a United Nations commission on Kashmir. The Korbels made their home in New York. Albright was fluent in four languages at the time: Czech, Serbo-Croatian, English, and French.

Additionally, read China’s foreign ministry’s endorsement of an envoy’s remarks on Ukraine and ‘political settlement’ discussions.

 

There are three girls.

They relocated to Denver in 1949 after obtaining political asylum, where her father became a professor at the University of Denver. She met her future husband, Joseph Medill Patterson Albright, while working for the Denver Post as a summer intern. They married in 1959, the same year she graduated from Wellesley College in Massachusetts with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Before the marriage ended in divorce, they had three children — Anne, Alice, and Katharine.

Albright, a Catholic who married an Episcopalian, discovered her Jewish origins — along with the deaths of more than a dozen relatives, including three grandparents — in 1997, at the age of 59.

“My guess is that they associated our heritage with sorrow and wished to protect us,” she said in her 2003 autobiography, “Madam Secretary.” They’d come to America in search of a better life.”

Albright earned a doctorate in public law and administration from Columbia University, where she studied under Zbigniew Brzezinski, the future national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. Additionally, she received a certificate in Russian studies.

Albright was appointed chief legislative aide to Democratic Senator Ed Muskie of Maine in 1976. Brzezinski hired his old student as the National Security Council’s legislative liaison two years later.

 

Candidates who have been advised

When the Republicans took power, she taught at Georgetown University and counselled Democratic presidential candidates Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis on international policy. In 1989, she was appointed head of the Center for National Policy, a public policy think organisation.

Clinton became the United States’ permanent representative to the United Nations following her 1992 election victory. Albright submitted evidence of mass graves to the Security Council in 1995, when up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were massacred in Srebrenica by Bosnian Serbs. She pushed for the use of force, recalling the lessons of Rwanda. Following the August bombardment of a Sarajevo market, the largest North Atlantic Treaty Organization mission in history was launched, resulting in the Dayton Accords that brought the conflict to a conclusion.

Albright was selected to succeed Warren Christopher, Clinton’s first secretary of state, when he indicated his intention to return to the private sector. The United States Senate affirmed her nomination overwhelmingly.

 

‘Madeleine’s conflict’

Albright sought to deploy force once more in Kosovo, where a civil conflict erupted in 1998. NATO entered combat for the second time in its history in March 1999, when it launched air operations without Security Council approval.

“Madeleine Albright is someone who grew up learning the lessons of Munich, the dangers of accommodating dictators, and she believes that we need a more robust foreign policy to avoid capitulating to people like Milosevic,” historian Walter Isaacson told CNN in a May 1999 interview. Slobodan Milosevic’s soldiers began withdrawing from Kosovo in June.

Her efforts to achieve peace between Israel and Palestine were not as fruitful. “People frequently inquire about my greatest disappointment during my tenure as Secretary. This was it,” she wrote in her autobiography.

Albright also advocated for NATO expansion and pressed Iraq to lift its embargo on UN weapons inspectors. When Iraq refused to comply, the US and Britain began Operation Desert Fox, a series of air strikes.

 

Visit by North Korea

She became the highest-ranking US representative to visit North Korea on an official tour in October 2000, meeting with President Kim Jong Il. “I am sorry to say that the Bush administration did not pick up the hand of cards that we left on the table,” Albright remarked in 2013 on MSNBC.

Albright returned to Georgetown as a lecturer following her government tenure. Albright Capital Management LLC, an emerging markets investment adviser, was created by her inside her Albright Group consultancy in 2005. In 2009, she merged the firm with Stonebridge International to become the Albright Stonebridge Group, a worldwide business strategy firm based in Washington, D.C.

Albright wrote other best-selling novels in addition to her memoirs and “Prague Winter,” including 2009’s “Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat’s Jewel Box.”

Albright’s commitment of democratic ideas remained steadfast far into her eighties. The rise of authoritarian leaders posed a “more significant threat now than at any point since the end of World War II,” she wrote in a 2018 Times column published in conjunction with the launch of her book “Fascism: A Warning.” “The likelihood that fascism may be given a new chance to parade around the world stage is heightened by Donald Trump’s volatile administration,” she continued.

 

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She served as the executive director of the nongovernmental group National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and as the director of the Pew Global Attitudes Project. Additionally, she served on the Defense Policy Board of the Pentagon and the boards of directors of the Aspen Institute, the Center for American Progress, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Albright never lost sight of the way her career broke down glass walls and made a point throughout her career of boosting women’s vocations. Indeed, she popularised the adage, “There is a special place in hell for women who do not aid one another.” –Bloomberg

 

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