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Madeleine Albright: 'Madam Secretary'

<I>Madam Secretary: A Memoir</I>, by Madeleine Albright
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Madam Secretary: A Memoir, by Madeleine Albright

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's new memoir is simply called Madam Secretary. In an interview with NPR's Juan Williams, Albright discusses what it was like to be the first female secretary of state, her opinion about the timing of the recent war in Iraq and the lessons of the U.S.-led war in Kosovo.

Albright directed U.S. foreign policy from 1997 until the Clinton administration left office.

Being a woman in a male-dominated field of foreign relations "has some downs, but mostly it has ups," she says. "It gave me the ability to use whatever feminine charms... I might have and, at the same time when I needed to be tough I could be very tough."

Albright questions the timing of the U.S. war in Iraq, she does not take issue with the Bush administration's now contested claim that Baghdad was hiding weapons of mass destruction. "I had every reason to believe that in 1998, when the [U.N.] inspectors were thrown out, that in fact all the weapons of mass destruction had not been accounted for. So the assumption was that some of them might exist. I never thought that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat, which is why I understood the 'why' of the war but I didn't the 'why now.'"

In her book, Albright details the intense behind-the-scenes diplomacy leading up to the 1999 war in Kosovo that resulted in the ouster of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. She cites several lessons of the Kosovo conflict. "You cannot stand by for a long time watching terrible things happen. We also learned that as powerful as the United States is, we cannot do things alone."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juan Williams
Juan Williams, one of America's leading journalists, is a news analyst, appearing regularly on NPR's Morning Edition. Knowledgeable and charismatic, Williams brings insight and depth — hallmarks of NPR programs — to a wide spectrum of issues and ideas.