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World leaders, DC elite to pay tribute to Madeleine Albright

World leaders and a host of America’s political and foreign policy elite are preparing to pay their respects to the late Madeleine Albright, the child refugee from war-torn Europe who rose to become America’s first woman secretary of state.

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

Albright, 84, died of cancer last month, prompting a wave of condolences from around the world, which also hailed her support for democracy and human rights. In addition to the current and past presidents, at least three of their successors as secretary of state will attend the service, along with other current and former cabinet members, foreign diplomats, lawmakers and a number of others who knew them.

Biden, Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are all scheduled to deliver their tributes at the service, while current Secretary of State Antony Blinken and former Secretaries Condoleezza Rice and John Kerry are scheduled to attend. Other senior officials expected to be in attendance include Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, CIA Director Bill Burns and White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

The planned foreign dignitaries include the presidents of Georgia and Kosovo, as well as senior 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 Soviet rule. They ended up in the United States, where she studied at Wellesley College and rose through the ranks of the foreign policy circles of the Democratic Party to become an ambassador to the United Nations. Clinton chose her for his second term as Secretary of State in 1996.

Although Albright was never a candidate for the presidency due to her foreign origins, she was almost universally admired for breaking a glass ceiling, even by her political critics.

As a Czech refugee who lived through both the horrors of Nazi Germany and the Iron Curtain, she was no deaf. She played a leading role in urging the Clinton administration to intervene militarily in the Kosovo conflict. “My way of thinking is Munich,” she often said, referring to the German city where the Western Allies had ceded their 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, particularly in the case of Milosevic’s treatment of Bosnia. NATO’s intervention in Kosovo ended up being dubbed “Madeleine’s War”.

She also took a hard line on Cuba, famously telling the United Nations that the Cuban shooting down of a civilian plane in 1996 was not “cojones” but rather “cowardice.”

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

Flanked by former Secretary of State Warren Christopher (left) and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton gestures during his address to guests at a reception at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday, September 26, 1994 .
Flanked by former Secretary of State Warren Christopher (left) and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton gestures during his address to guests at a reception at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday, September 26, 1994 .
AP

She was born Marie Jana Korbel on May 15, 1937 in Prague, the daughter of the diplomat Joseph Korbel. The family was Jewish and converted to Roman Catholicism at the age of 5. Three of her Jewish grandparents died in concentration camps.

Albright was an internationalist whose viewpoint was shaped in part 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 conquered much of Eastern Europe, her father brought 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 Ph.D. 1976. She then entered politics and the male-dominated world of foreign policy at the time.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/27/world-leaders-dc-elite-to-pay-tribute-to-madeleine-albright/ World leaders, DC elite to pay tribute to Madeleine Albright

JACLYN DIAZ

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