World leaders and DC elite pay tribute to Madeleine Albright

WASHINGTON (AP) — World leaders and a group of US political and foreign policy elites are preparing to pay tribute to the late Madeleine Albright, a refugee child from war-torn Europe who became America’s first female secretary of state.

Led by President Joe Biden and his predecessors Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, the man who chose Albright as his top diplomat and the highest-ranking woman in the US government at the time, about 1,400 mourners will gather on Wednesday to celebrate her life and achievements. at the Washington National Cathedral.

Albright, 84, died of cancer last month, prompting a flood of condolences from around the world that also hailed her support for democracy and human rights. In addition to the current and former presidents, the service will be attended by at least three of her successors as secretary of state, as well as other current and former members of the cabinet, foreign diplomats, lawmakers and a host of others who knew her.

Biden, Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are to pay their respects at the service, while current Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and former Secretaries Condoleezza Rice and John Kerry are to attend. Other senior officials are expected to include Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, CIA Director Bill Burns and White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

It is planned that the event will be attended by high-ranking foreign officials, including the presidents of Georgia and Kosovo, as well as high-ranking officials from Colombia, Bosnia and the Czech Republic.

Albright was born in what was then Czechoslovakia, but her family fled twice, first from the Nazis and then from the Soviets. They ended up in the United States, where she attended Wellesley College and rose through the ranks in Democratic foreign policy circles to become an ambassador to the UN. Clinton selected her as Secretary of State in 1996 for his second term.

Although Albright never ran for president due to her foreign background, she was widely admired for breaking the glass ceiling, even by her political detractors.

As a Czech refugee who had seen the horrors of both Nazi Germany and the Iron Curtain, she was no dove. She played a leading role in pressuring the Clinton administration for military involvement in the Kosovo conflict. “I think it’s Munich,” she often said, referring to the German city where the Western Allies abandoned her homeland to the Nazis.

As Secretary of State, Albright played a key role in persuading Clinton to go to war against Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic over his treatment of Kosovo Albanians in 1999. As ambassador to the UN, she advocated a tough US foreign policy, especially in the case of Milosevic. Bosnia treatment. NATO’s intervention in Kosovo eventually became known as the Madeleine War.

She also took a hard line on Cuba, telling the United Nations that the downing of a civilian plane by Cubans in 1996 was not an “agreement” but rather “cowardice.”

In 2012, Obama awarded Albright the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, saying her life has been an inspiration to all Americans.

US President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during a ceremony on May 29, 2012 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC.

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Born Marie Jana Korbel in Prague on May 15, 1937, she was the daughter of the diplomat Josef Korbel. The family was Jewish and converted to Catholicism when she was 5 years old. Three of her Jewish grandparents died in concentration camps.

Albright was an internationalist whose point of view was partly shaped by her background. Her family fled Czechoslovakia in 1939 when the Nazis took over their country, and she spent the war years in London.

After the war, when the Soviet Union took over vast areas of Eastern Europe, her father moved the family to the United States. They settled in Denver, where her father taught at the University of Denver. One of Korbel’s best students was Rice, who later succeeded his daughter as secretary of state.

Albright graduated from Wellesley College in 1959. She worked as a journalist and later studied international relations at Columbia University, where she received a master’s degree and a doctorate in 1968. in 1976. She then entered politics and what at the time was the world of male-dominated foreign policy professionals.

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