© 2020 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
WKYC School Closings List
Government & Politics

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright Calls This Election The Most Important in History

Madeleine Albright

The first female Secretary of State has been canvassing Ohio to promote the presidential candidacy of one of the few other women to hold that title: Hillary Clinton. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze spoke with Madeleine Albright about Clinton, women in politics and the biggest foreign-policy challenges likely to face the next president.

The challenges abroad
Albright says the nation is facing myriad of foreign policy issues including now – as when she was Bill Clinton’s secretary of state – tension in the Middle East. She acknowledges that the decades of conflict there have some advocating that the U.S. just back away.

"It's diversity that makes us strong, not deciding that there are certain people that we hate and turn against them."

“It has been going on a long time, and I know there are people who think, ‘Let them all just kill each other and why should we get involved in it?'

"But the bottom line is, it is affecting so much of foreign policy.  It’s a crisis of the Middle East that is spreading out of it, and the refugees are kind of the most visible symbol of it. And the refugees and what is going on affect politics in Europe, our partners that are needed to deal with other issues in the world, and also the United States.

“My belief and Hillary Clinton’s has always been is that the United States need to play a role abroad with partners, and she’s so good at getting partners to help.”

Vetting and extreme vetting
She acknowledges that for many voters, questions of refugees, immigration and terrorism blend into one concern: That it’s all too risky for the U.S.

“I think it’s unfortunate to dub everybody that is from Syria or refugees generally as being a threat to us,” says Albright, who was herself a refugee.

“This country has been welcoming to people and it’s diversity that makes us strong, not deciding that there’s certain people that we hate and turn against them.”

She insists that the screening process for refugees from Syria and elsewhere is detailed, as is Hillary Clinton’s discussion of the issue. But “I have no idea what Trump is talking about when he says ‘extreme vetting,’ and building walls and deciding that we’re not going to take any Muslims into this country.

“We do have to be careful, vigilant and there is a vetting process, but we can’t just decide that people who are suffering are just left out.”

Killed by their own leader
She also says it’s hard to convince Europe to take more refugees “if we ourselves are not more generous.”

And she said she’s visited a number of communities in Ohio that have sister cities in the Middle East and elsewhere and “are really very understanding of the plight of those who have to leave their country because they’re being killed by their own leader.”

Albright roused a lot of criticism last winter when she told a Clinton rally, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”

Women supporting women
Shortly after that, she called it her “undiplomatic moment."

“I would not vote for a woman I disagreed with. I would not vote for Sarah Palin under any circumstances, or Michele Bachmann.

“I was saying generally that women need to support each other. People need to make a choice according to the issues, and Hillary Clinton has been so supportive of women in terms of empowering women, allowing women to make choices about our own body, arguing for equal pay for equal work.

“I find it very hard to understand that women would vote for somebody that has been so disrespectful of women and in fact has denigrated women and treated them as objects. But everybody has to make their own choice on the basis of issues.   

Albright, who made a half-dozen stops in Ohio campaigning for Clinton this week. Democrats Clinton and Albright are two of the three women who have served as secretary of state. Condeleeza Rice is the only Republican to hold the post. She has called on Donald Trump to drop out of the race.

Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, was also campaigning in Ohio today (Monday), accusing Clinton of political favoritism and corruption.