The first woman to become a secretary of state in the nation, Madeline Albright has died. The 84-year old trailblazer had cancer. She was a stateswoman who helped the U.S. shape its foreign policy after the Cold War. She was a career diplomat, who brought the nation closer to NATO. She will also be remembered as a champion of human rights.
Her family confirmed her death in a statement on Twitter, on Wednesday. She had been suffering from cancer.
Madeline, who was the daughter of a Czechoslovakian diplomat, fled the Nazis and communists in Europe with her family, when she was 11-years old. She used her experiences to shape the foreign policy of the nation under the presidency of Bill Clinton. She was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in his first term.. She became the first woman to become the 64th U.S. secretary of state from 1997-2001, in his second term.
Raised a Roman Catholic, she fought against totalitarianism and fascism throughout her life. She later converted to Episcopalism and also came to know about her Jewish heritage in her later years.
In 2021, President Barack Obama conferred her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He described her as tough and credited her with helping “bring peace to the Balkans.” He also commended her for paving the way “for progress in some of the most unstable corners in the world.”
Dr. Albright considered the U.S. to be an “indispensable nation,” one who resolved international conflicts. She expanded NATO and was instrumental in stopping Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic from turning Kosovo into another Bosnia.
Another of her great diplomatic initiatives was to convince Russia and the U.S. Senate to let Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic become a part of the NATO alliance.
Madeline Albright had regrets later in life that the nation did not intervene during the massacres that took place in Bosnia and Rwanda. She also unsuccessfully tried to resolve issues between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
She will be remembered as a strong, feminist who self identified as a “pragmatic idealist.” She described the nation’s foreign policy under the Clinton administration as “assertive multilateralism.” She wrote several best sellers including her memoir in 2003, which is a beacon of female empowerment.