Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright left the State Department in 2000, but she still thinks about news stories in the context of the decisions she would make.
As part of the press tour for her recent memoir, “Hell and Other Destinations,” Albright talked with CapRadio's Donna Apidone about her life, her career and the United States’ place on the international stage. The conversation was part of an event hosted by the Sacramento Public Library on May 13.
Here are highlights from their discussion, which you can also watch at the bottom of the page.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I have to say, and I find this very painful, I think the behavior of the United States generally internationally at this moment is embarrassing and counter-productive.
Donna Apidone: Why?
Because we want everything our way. Compromise is not a four-letter word, and not everything has to be a zero-sum game, and I think there needs to be some respect. … It is not a sign of weakness to cooperate.
You made a statement in this book: “A rule of thumb is that the economy and national security are two issues that matter most.” Now we have those two issues plus a virus. If you were still in office as Secretary of State, how would you recommend this be handled?
Well, I do think the definition of national security is flexible in many ways, and it goes toward economic situations and some of the other aspects like a way of life and climate. I do think that we are seeing that health is a national security issue. And what is interesting is that in the past, at the U.N., the Security Council has in fact taken up issues to do with health, such as AIDS or ebola, And so, as the Secretary General is trying to find some overall uniform way to approach it, the U.S. is not helping, I think, with the way we are dealing with it.
The title, though, “Hell and Other Destinations,” sounds a bit angry.
Mostly, I write about things that happen to me, and one of the things I found when I first started out, some of the women would say, “Why don’t you stay at home with your children, and why are you going to school and not in the carpool line, and besides, my Hollandaise sauce is much better than yours,” and I thought to myself, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” And it’s something. I think it’s the most famous thing I ever said. It ended up on a Starbucks cup.
Isn’t that interesting? With all you’ve done in your life, making it to a Starbucks cup is what people remember.
You never know.
You have written that when you look at current events, you tend to put yourself in that place of Secretary of State and say, “What would I do if I were Secretary of State now.” Because I work for an NPR affiliate, I would like to ask you to comment on Secretary Pompeo’s treatment of NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly.
Well, let me just say putting that a little bit into context. You get to know the press very well. It’s a very funny relationship, actually, because on the airplane you talk and have a nice time, and get to know each other, and then you get off the plane, and all of a sudden the journalists start asking you hard questions because that’s their job, and you all go out to dinner anyway. I think, however, what Pompeo has been doing is following what the president does which is to insult the press, and make them feel like it’s an imposition or it’s fake or it’s something that is not an essential part of a democracy, that is to have a free press that is able to ask a question and be able to get answers.