This afternoon rather than watching the Ravens-[Ethnic Slurs] game, I went to a talk at the Newseum given by Madeleine Albright. She was plugging her memoir Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War but she talked about a lot about other current issues as well.
Her primary message was that as a Czechoslovakian refugee from the Nazis who lived through The Blitz as a child she has a unique perspective on the United States’ role in the world. She particularly warns against the American tendency towards isolation. She wonders how the world might have been different if the United States had been at the table during the negotiations between France, Britain and Nazi Germany over the eventual fate of Czechoslovakia.
She had a very nuanced take on the events in Libya. As a former Secretary of State she emphasized that ambassadors are the eyes and ears of the United States in foreign countries. That is why embassies tend to be in the center of capitols where they are tough to defend. She noted that the trend to make embassies fortresses began after embassy bombings during her tenure.
During the Q and A she gave some other interesting observations. When asked about the UN Disability Treaty vote she lamented that it seemed to have been the result of “people who believe the United Nations actually has black helicopters to secretly steal their lawn furniture. Their problem with the UN seems to that it is full of foreigners which is tough to avoid.”
She was also asked about her advocacy for women getting involved in public affairs. She had earlier noted that her father had a bright young student he had inspired to study international diplomacy, one Condalezza Rice, making her father responsible for two of the three female Secretaries of State the US has had. The third is a fellow Wellesley alumna. While she thinks women in power are a force for good she said that “If you think a world run entirely by women would be a good thing, you don’t remember high school.” She also said she would support a pro-choice man over a woman who wasn’t.
Overall, I was very impressed with her expansive knowledge and sly sense of humor. She is a national treasure who should be listened to.