Hillary Clinton: Madeleine Albright Was “A Wonderful Friend”

The last serious threat to European security was the Balkan War 30 years ago, when Madeleine Albright was serving as U.S. Secretary of State. She died yesterday at 84, and tributes have been pouring in ever since. In 1997 she became America’s first female Secretary of State, paving the way for Hillary Clinton and others. Christiane discusses Albright’s legacy with Clinton.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: What do you remember of her that’s really fundamental to you and to your term as secretary of state?

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, she was a great person and a wonderful friend to me and literally so many others. What I remember his her clarity of voice. She had a way of cutting through all the mumbo jumbo to get to the heart of a matter. And at the heart for her, based on her own immigrant experience, first escaping from the Nazis, and then escaping from Stalin’s communists, she understood viscerally the value of freedom and all of the institutions and laws that undergird it.So, when she faced any issue, she really could explain it to her students at Georgetown or to the diplomats on the world stage in a way that I think everybody could grasp. And that was a great gift.

AMANPOUR: Secretary Clinton, she had her first major public office when your husband, Bill Clinton, was president. He made her U.N. ambassador and then secretary of state. That, of course, was during the Balkan Wars, which really is like a throwback in history, if we look at what’s happening right now. And she — her voice was fundamental. And it cut through all the chatter from people who didn’t really want to do anything about restoring security and order in Europe for the first time since World War II. Do you remember that period and how influential she was in the Clinton administration?

CLINTON: I remember very well. I was delighted when Bill asked her to be the U.N. ambassador, where I think she served with real distinction at a difficult time, as you point out. There was a lot going on in the world post the collapse of the Soviet Union, and then, of course, the first conflict in Europe since World War II, in the Balkans. And from the very beginning, I think Madeleine, more than many others, recognized that this was a threat. It was a threat to European stability and unity. It was a threat to the transatlantic alliance. And she did speak out and was very, I think, bold and prescient in talking about the stakes for America in this kind of aggression going unchecked. And it took a while. It actually took the terrible genocidal behavior that culminated in Srebrenica, for NATO to act and for Europe and the United States to really see it in the same way. But she saw it from the beginning. And that’s what I mean about her understanding.

About This Episode EXPAND

It was a day of intense activity at an emergency NATO summit in Brussels, where Biden joined 29 other world leaders in a united front against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Madeleine Albright died yesterday at 84. Hillary Clinton discusses Albright’s legacy. How will Putin respond to sanctions? Will he look for a diplomatic solution to the war, or will he be more likely to escalate?