Madeleine Albright, Madam Secretary


Madam Secretary is a ghostwritten autobiography of Madeleine Albright’s life, published after her time as the Secretary of State in the Clinton administration. Albright was born in Prague, and immigrated to the United States after the 1948 coup d’etat. She attended Wellesley and married a foreign correspondent, and lived a pretty normal life as the educated wife of a somewhat influential man. In her 50s, her and her husband divorced, and only then did she really start her political career, throwing events for influential people and holding informal gatherings. This moving and shaking lead her first to work for Senator Ed Muskie, then through an old professor, she got a position in the West Wing. From there she worked her way up advised Geraldine Ferarro and Michael Dukakis, until she was elected ambassador to the United Nations, and from there Secretary of State.

Her life up until this point was fascinating. She was very relatable, and in a lot of ways she reminded me of my mother who has always been able to lead a room no matter which one she’s in. Albright’s path was extremely inspirational, because it was in no way linear. She followed her interests and her enthusiasm lead her to these higher points.

Then, once she’s in office, three quarters of the way through the book, the entire tone changes. It’s much harder to hide behind a mask, when a persons actions are a matter of public record. Yes, I’m talking about war crimes.

The quote Albright should most be remembered for is on a 60 Minutes interview, she was asked by the interviewer about the effect US sanctions were having on Iraqi society, “We have heard that a half-million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

Albright responded: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”

So yeah, that’s all you really need to know. We can definitely say that Albright was a war criminal, we can point to the enormous spike in infant mortality rate in young Iraqi children, over 500,000 extra death following the Gulf War.

Why did I read this you might ask? I think it’s good to read things you know are obviously propaganda sometimes. It attunes the ear to BS, and after reading something that you are certain is lying to you, it’s easier to look at things you wouldn’t suspect to be lying to you critically.