World leaders and DC elite will pay tribute to Madeleine Albright

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WASHINGTON — World leaders and a group of America’s foreign policy and political elite prepare to pay their respects to the late Madeleine Albright, the refugee girl from war-torn Europe who became the first secretary of State of the United States.

Led by President Joe Biden and his predecessors Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, the man who chose Albright to be his top diplomat and the highest-ranking woman in the US government at the time, some 1,400 mourners will gather. on Wednesday to celebrate his life and accomplishments. at the Washington National Cathedral.

Albright, 84, died of cancer last month, prompting an outpouring of condolences around the world that also praised his support for democracy and human rights. In addition to the current and former presidents, at least three of her successors as secretary of state will attend her service along with other current and former cabinet members, foreign diplomats, lawmakers and a host of others who knew her.

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

Foreign dignitaries scheduled to attend include the presidents of Georgia and Kosovo and top 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 government. They ended up in the United States, where she studied at Wellesley College and rose through the ranks of Democratic Party foreign policy circles to become ambassador to the United Nations. Clinton selected her as Secretary of State in 1996 for her second term.

Though never in line for the presidency due to her foreign birth, Albright was almost universally admired for breaking a glass ceiling, even by her political detractors.

As a Czech refugee who saw the horrors of both Nazi Germany and the Iron Curtain, she was no dove. She played a prominent role in pressuring the Clinton administration to engage militarily in the Kosovo conflict. “My mentality is Munich,” she often said, referring to the German city where the Western Allies abandoned 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 Kosovar Albanians in 1999. As UN ambassador, she advocated a tough US foreign policy, particularly in the case of Milosevic. Bosnian treatment. NATO’s intervention in Kosovo was eventually named “Madeleine’s War”.

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

In 2012, Obama awarded Albright the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, saying his life was an inspiration to all Americans.

Born Marie Jana Korbel in Prague on May 15, 1937, she was the daughter of a diplomat, Joseph Korbel. The family was Jewish and she converted to Roman Catholicism when she was 5 years old. Three of her Jewish grandparents died in concentration camps.

Albright was an internationalist whose views were shaped in part by her background. Her family fled Czechoslovakia in 1939 when the Nazis took over her country and she spent the war years in London.

After the war, when the Soviet Union took over much of Eastern Europe, his father brought the family to the United States. They settled in Denver, where his father taught at the University of Denver. One of Korbel’s best students was Rice, who would later succeed her daughter as secretary of state.

Albright graduated from Wellesley College in 1959. He worked as a journalist and then studied international relations at Columbia University, where he earned a master’s degree in 1968 and a Ph.D. in 1976. he Then he entered politics and what was at the time the male-dominated world of foreign policy professionals.

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