The Madeleine Albright Few Knew

Her former spokesman shares a behind-the-scenes view of how the former Secretary of State wielded power at the height of American influence

Earlier today, as I sat in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. — as did President Joe Biden, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, and many, many others — my mind returned to intense memories of a very different time

a time when America was respected, admired and feared around the world, a time in the late ’90s when Madeleine Albright became the first woman to be named Secretary of State

As so many have written, Albright brought wisdom, clarity, humor and a full helping of humanity to whatever she did. And she was always doing something. And doing it with enthusiasm and determination

Whether in her role as a professor at Georgetown University, author of several books, mentor to generations of foreign policy professionals, adviser to Democratic candidates for president, ambassador to the United Nations or America’s first female secretary of State, Albright came prepared and worked hard

For seven remarkable years, from 1993 to 2000, at the United Nations and the State Department, serving as her spokesman and close adviser, I watched her shape American foreign policy at a very special time in history

So, in the hope of filling out the story of her time in office as U.N. Ambassador and secretary of State, let me offer a perspective with which only a few are familiar

In the 1990s, Secretary Albright really was a woman alone in a sea of men. At the United Nations, she used to joke that if she ever wrote a book it would be called “14 Suits and a Skirt,” as she spent most of her time in the U.N. Security Council with 14 male ambassadors

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