Madeleine Albright said she had a duty to write her book.The tome, "The Mighty and the Almighty," combines Albright's insights and experience as former U.S. secretary of state with her observations of both U.S. history and current policies dealing with Iraq, Iran and North Korea."People that have had high-level government jobs have an obligation to write about what they did," Albright said.Albright served as secretary of state under President Bill Clinton and also served as ambassador to the United Nations. She is a Czechoslovakian émigré whose family fled to London in 1939 to escape Nazism. Her family moved to the United States in 1948 when communism overcame Czechoslovakia.Albright spoke with poise and clarity to a packed Walter Paepcke Auditorium at the Aspen Institute. Institute board member Walter Isaacson and other inquiring spectators asked Albright questions about her experience, ideas on current situations and even her famed brooches.
Her latest writings deal primarily with the mingling of foreign policy with faith not just in the U.S., but all over the world. "A large number of conflicts did have something to do with religion - particularly the Middle East," Albright said. "I am very troubled, as I'm sure you are, that God and religion are being used to divide people."And in America, she said, faith is so important."Americans are probably the most religious people in the world, aside from Iran," she said.Albright also lent her views on the Iraq war. She didn't dispute the threat of brutal dictator Saddam Hussein, nor did she initially dispute the claim about weapons of mass destruction. But she didn't think those threats were imminent to the United States, and she doesn't agree with how the war is being handled."I believe in democratization ... but imposing democracy is an oxymoron," Albright said. "Democracy has been identified with imperialism" because of the Iraq war.
She also doesn't think the U.S. should set deadline for withdrawal - but she nevertheless opposes long-term occupation."I do think we should leave," she said to an audience applauding in agreement.But Albright saw beyond just the Iraq conflict. She also offered advice to listeners on the tense situations in Iran and North Korea.She detailed Iran's troubled history in the past 50 years and said point-blank that it would be dangerous for the unstable power to have nuclear weapons. However, she noted that the state still has a right to a civilian program for nuclear power."Under safeguards, they're allowed to do this," she said.But Albright wasn't all stone-faced policy, showing her lighter side in dealing with President George W. Bush and even the showy brooches she's known for wearing.
"You act as if you invented democracy when in fact I did," she recalled telling the president.And the brooches? Well, she didn't wear one ... but she did write the book on the jewelry. Quite literally, as she's currently working on a book that uses her many brooches to divulge her experiences as a foreign policy expert.For instance, did you ever wonder why she wore that snake brooch?Albright said with a laugh, "Saddam Hussein called me a snake."Greg Schreier's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org