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Madeleine Albright

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
Order: 64th Sec'y of State
Term of Office: January 23, 1997 - January 20, 2001
Predecessor: Warren Christopher
Successor: Colin Powell
Date of Birth: May 13, 1937
Place of Birth: Prague, Czechoslovakia
Spouse: Joseph Medill Patterson Albright
Profession: Diplomat
Political Party: Democrat

Madeleine Korbel Albright (born 1937) is a former United States Secretary of State.

She was nominated by President Bill Clinton on December 5, 1996 as Secretary of State. After being unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, she was sworn in as the 64th Secretary of State on January 23, 1997. Albright was the first female secretary of state and the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government.

Prior to her appointment, Secretary Albright served as the US ambassador to the United Nations, her first diplomatic post. Before that, she served as a member of President Clinton's Cabinet and the National Security Council. She was formerly the President of the Center for National Policy.

As a Research Professor of International Affairs and Director of Women in Foreign Service Program at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in international affairs, U.S. foreign policy, Russian foreign policy, and Central and Eastern European politics, and was responsible for developing and implementing programs designed to enhance women's professional opportunities in international affairs.

From 1981 to 1982, Secretary Albright was awarded a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian Institution following an international competition in which she wrote about the role of the press in political changes in Poland during the early 1980s.

She also served as a Senior Fellow in Soviet and Eastern European Affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, conducting research in developments and trends in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

From 1978 - 1981, Albright was a staff member on the National Security Council, as well as a White House staff member, where she was responsible for foreign policy legislation. From 1976 -1978, she served as Chief Legislative Assistant to Senator Edmund Muskie.

Awarded a B.A. from Wellesley College with honors in Political Science, she studied at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, received a Certificate from the Russian Institute at Columbia University, and her Masters and Doctorate from Columbia University's Department of Public Law and Government.

Albright is highly multilingual being fluent in English, French and Czech, with good speaking and reading abilities in Russian and Polish.

Before and during World War II her family sought refuge in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where they had been on a diplomatic mission from Czechoslovakia. That saved her life, while many of her numerous Jewish relatives in Czechoslovakia were killed in the Holocaust. Albright has stated that she did not know she was Jewish until she was grown.

Albright was appointed ambassador to the UN shortly after Clinton was inaugurated, presenting her credentials on February 6, 1993. During her tenure at the UN, she had a rocky relationship with the UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Boutros-Ghali, a highly principled career diplomat who was not afraid to criticize the US, later described her in his 1999 memoir Unvanquished:

She seemed to have little interest in the difficult diplomatic work of persuading her foreign counterparts to go along with the positions of her government, preferring to lecture or speak in declarative sentences, or simply to read verbatim from her briefing books. She seemed to assume that her mere assertion of a US policy should be sufficent to achieve the support of other nations.

At the end of Boutros-Ghali's five year term in office, Albright and the Clinton administration took the unprecedented step of blocking his reappointment for a second term, as has been customary since the founding of the UN. It made her widely unpopular in the Arab world.

Later, as Secretary of State, Albright incurred the wrath of many Serbs in the former Yugoslavia because of her role in the Kosovo and Bosnia wars as well US policy in the Balkans per se.

Albright has been widely condemned for remarks she made during on interview on December 5, 1996, for the 60 Minutes television program. On the theme of US sanctions against Iraq, Lesley Stahl asked:

We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Albright replied:

I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it.

During the Rambouillet talks on Kosovo in France in 1999, Albright was said to have been mistaken for a cleaning lady by one of the Albanian delegates. She is said to have burst out angrily using very undiplomatic language. Critics say that since that incident, she has upscaled her wardrobe, added more color to it and now always wears oversized gold brooches.

In 2000, Secretary Albright became the first western diplomat to meet Kim Jong Il, the reclusive leader of North Korea.

After her retirement, Albright published a memoir, Madam Secretary (2003).

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