WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – World leaders and a group of American political and foreign policy elites are preparing to pay tribute to the late Madeleine Albright, a child refugee from war-torn Europe who became America’s first female Secretary of State.
Led by President Joe Biden and predecessors Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, the man who elected Albright as their top diplomat and the highest-ranking woman ever in the US government at the time, to celebrate her life and achievements About 1,400 condolence meetings will gather on Wednesday. at Washington National Cathedral.
Albright, 84, died of cancer last month, prompting a wave of condolences from around the world, which also lauded his support for democracy and human rights. In addition to current and former presidents, at least three of his successors to the service will serve as secretaries of state, along with other current and former cabinet members, foreign diplomats, lawmakers and others who know him.
Biden, Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are all set to pay tribute at the service, while the current Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and former secretaries Condoleezza Rice and John Kerry are set to attend. Other top current officials expected to be in attendance include Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, CIA Director Bill Burns and White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
Participating foreign dignitaries include the Presidents of Georgia and Kosovo and senior officials from Colombia, Bosnia and the Czech Republic.
Albright was born in what was then Czechoslovakia but his family fled twice, first from the Nazis and then from the Soviet regime. He ended up in the United States, where he studied at Wellesley College and rose through the ranks of the Democratic Party’s foreign policy circle to become ambassador to the United Nations. Clinton elected him to his second term as Secretary of State in 1996.
Although never in line for the presidency due to his foreign birth, Albright was universally praised for breaking a glass ceiling, even by his political opponents.
As a Czech refugee who witnessed the horrors of both Nazi Germany and the Iron Curtain, she was not a pigeon. He played a major role in pressuring the Clinton administration to militarily engage in the conflict in Kosovo. “My mentality is Munich,” he said frequently, referring to the German city where the Western Allies left their homeland to the Nazis.
As Secretary of State, Albright was instrumental in persuading Clinton to go to war against Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic in 1999 over the treatment of Kosovar Albanians. As ambassador to the United Nations, he advocated a strict US foreign policy, particularly in the case of Milosevic. Healing of Bosnia NATO’s intervention in Kosovo was eventually dubbed the “War of Madeleine”.
He also took a tough stance on Cuba, saying at the United Nations famously that the Cuban firing of a civilian aircraft in 1996 was not “cojones”, but “cowardice”.
In 2012, Obama awarded Albright the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honour, saying that his life was an inspiration to all Americans.
Born Marie Jana Korbel in Prague on May 15, 1937, she was the daughter of Joseph Korbel, a diplomat. The family was Jewish and converted to Roman Catholicism when she was 5. Three of her Jewish grandparents died in concentration camps.
Albright was an internationalist whose outlook was partially shaped by his background. His family fled Czechoslovakia in 1939 as the Nazis took over their country, and he spent the war years in London.
After the war, as the Soviet Union occupied large parts of Eastern Europe, his father moved the family to the United States. He settled in Denver, where his father taught at the University of Denver. One of Korbel’s best students was Rice, who would later succeed his daughter as Secretary of State.
Albright graduated from Wellesley College in 1959. He worked as a journalist and later studied international relations at Columbia University, where he earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in 1968. in 1976. He then entered politics and what was at the time the male-dominated world of foreign policy professionals.