Standing barely over five feet tall at a wooden podium in “a
clean, well lighted bookstore” in San Francisco, former Secretary
of State Madeline Albright spoke to a crowded room of supporters
eagerly awaiting to hear her speak about her new book Madam
Secretary, A Memoir.
After I waited for almost two hours with a friend, who hoped to
get Albright to sign the latest Foreign Policy with an essay
written by her, Albright arrived promptly at 7 p.m. and spoke about
her book, after a quick introduction by the store’s programs
Albright spoke about why she decided to write her memoirs
because although she was a Czechoslovakian refugee, she is very
proud to be an American.
As an American, she felt it important to share her version of
American history and events.
Throughout her 15 minutes introducing herself, she was
repeatedly interrupted by an angry audience member who shouted
“genocide” and “killer” at her.
I was not able to see what happened to the man shouting
obscenities to Albright, but after he stopped, another audience
member, a woman, shouted accusations.
Albright was not at all distracted by the man, but stopped in
the middle of her introduction when the woman spoke about Iraqi
sanctions that Albright supported after Desert Storm.
Albright interrupted the woman and said, “I know what your
question is; the question is why I supported the sanctions on Iraq
in the 90s that killed [a number of] children.”
Albright said she would answer the question at the end during
Q&A. She never did.
The audience didn’t seem notice that Albright did not answer the
question that caused such an uproar. And once the anti-supporters
left, the 45 minutes left for Q&A were filled with both light,
yet constructive questions directed at her experience as a United
Nations ambassador and the Secretary of State.
As she answered questions, Albright was composed and eloquent.
When asked how she felt about the Israel-Palestine conflict, she
calmly answered that the United States needed to play a role to
finally put an end to the violence.
She spoke of her personal experience with Yassir Arafat,
commenting that Arafat was a very charismatic leader who knew how
to appeal to the people, but when dealing with pragmatic matters
such as plumbing systems and roadways for Palestinians, he was
Albright continued to answer questions regarding the decision
not to send U.S. troops to Rwanda and her possible run for
presidency of the Czech Republic.
Albright is a true diplomat who is able to speak to a crowd in a
clear and direct manner. It is her ability to speak frankly and
yet, without causing intimidation that it is no wonder why she was
able to begin peaceful negotiations with North Korea’s fearful
president Kim Jong II. Without a doubt, she is an inspiring woman
who’s confidence is immeasurable.
For her last comment, she spoke about the role of women in the
She said that women can do it all, but not at the same time and
that it is important for women to not judge one another.
She also emphasized how it is important for women to allow each
other to have space.
In conclusion, she said defiantly, “There is a special place in
hell for women who do not help each other.”