Madeleine Albright made her mark in American history as the first female Secretary of State during the Clinton administration where she presided over an era of unipolar global power when traditional American values of democracy and freedom reigned unquestioned as lynchpins of U.S. foreign policy.
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The difference between those times and the world under the Trump administration today is sharply outlined in Albright’s new book Fascism: A Warning which the former cabinet member is currently promoting in a series of media interviews.
Albright spoke to Salon recently and weighed in on the recent divisions between President Trump and his national security team in an interview that explains how she sees the president squandering years of progress America has made in helping address the world’s problems and how he’s falling into a trap of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s making.
The interview starts with Albright’s assessment of Russia’s tactics in the undermining of the U.S. objective of encouraging the spread of democracy around the world.
“Well, I think that what it is doing is undermining democracies for the sake of separating them from the United States and from each other and it is a new form of using… It’s kind of weaponizing information, and what sometimes is called asymmetrical warfare, in terms of making sure that our alliances are weakened and that the democratic institutions in those countries are under pressure and threat. At the same time, I think that it does work also as a way of expanding Russia’s influence.”
Albright then goes on to say that Trump’s actions on the foreign policy front are “gifts” to Putin, either purposefully or unwittingly.
“Not only that, I think some of the statements and things that President Trump says and does in reaction are gifts to Putin, if I might put it that way. It is kind of helping in an agenda, whether it’s done on purpose or mainly because of President Trump’s own views towards alliances and the validity of our relationships with some of our friends.”
The former Secretary of State next responds to the breach in the traditional lockstep relationship between the president and his national security advisors after Trump berated his intelligence commulity leaders this week for presentng a threat assessment to Congress this week that was more aligned with reality than his own deluded view of the world stage.
Albright told Salon that she blames Trump for his failure to play to America’s strengths in its dealings with Russia, a country with fewer resources, a weaker economy, and less power than the United States.
“I was very surprised by what I saw on TV and what I’ve read so far. The way that the intelligence community sees the threat and the way that Trump is carrying out policy, I mean, it is really a disconnect. I’ve now decided the simplest way of putting this in answering your question is, Putin is playing a weak hand very well and we are playing a strong hand poorly,” Albright said in criticism of Trump’s performance.
The former top American diplomat goes on in her interview to touch on American policy towards Venezuela, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, and China, touching on virtually all of the major foreign policy dilemmas that the U.S. currently faces.
Her analyses of Trump’s responses to each of these issues makes one long for a time when America was led by presidents with the knowledge and experience to face the challenges the nation is facing with intelligence, deliberation, and confidence in our values system.
Instead we are now in the hands of a misguided budding autocrat with little respect for anything but his own ill-informed opinions — someone who values only that which benefits himself, his family, and their wealthy cronies rather than the greater good of the American people.
That, my friends, is the true national emergency.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by Matthew Rozsa at Salon.