Madeleine Albright

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I'm for democracy, but imposing democracy is an oxymoron. People have to choose democracy, and it has to come up from below.

Madeleine Korbel Albright (born Marie Jana Korbelová on May 15, 1937) is a Czech-born American politician. She served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations (1993–1997) and as the U.S. Secretary of State (1997–2001).

Quotes[edit]

1990s[edit]

  • It is the threat of the use of force [against Iraq] and our line-up there that is going to put force behind the diplomacy. But if we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.
    • Stated on NBC's Today Show (February 19, 1998)

2000s[edit]

  • My deepest regret from my years in public service is the failure of the United States and the international community to act sooner to halt these crimes.
  • Little effort was made to explain Saddam's culpability, his misuse of Iraqi resources, or the fact that we were not embargoing medicine or food. I was exasperated that our TV was showing what amounted to Iraqi propaganda...I must have been crazy; I should have answered the question by reframing it and pointing out the inherent flaws in the premise behind it. Saddam Hussein could have prevented any child from suffering simply by meeting his obligations. Instead, I said the following: 'I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.' As soon as I had spoken, I wished for the power to freeze time and take back those words. My reply had been a terrible mistake, hasty, clumsy, and wrong. Nothing matters more than the lives of innocent people. I had fallen into a trap and said something that I simply did not mean. That is no one's fault but my own.
    • Comment on Stahl interview in Madam Secretary (2003), pp. 274-275
  • I was taught to strive not because there were any guarantees of success but because the act of striving is in itself the only way to keep faith with life
    • On her upbringing, Madam Secretary (2003), p. 512
  • Mahmoud Abbas is a puppet.
    • (BBC HARDTALK 17-MAY-2004) uncut version.
  • I never should have made it. It was stupid.
    • Comment on Stahl interview, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme (October 19, 2005)
  • What really troubles me is that democracy is getting a bad name because it is identified with imposition and occupation. I'm for democracy, but imposing democracy is an oxymoron. People have to choose democracy, and it has to come up from below.
    • When asked what she considered the greatest mistake of the George W. Bush administration, interview with Deborah Solomon, New York Times (April 23, 2006)
  • There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.
    • Keynote speech at "Celebrating Inspiration" luncheon with the WNBA's All-Decade Team, quoted in Mechelle Voepel, ESPN (July 13, 2006)
  • I'm not a person who thinks the world would be entirely different if it was run by women. If you think that, you've forgotten what high school was like.
    • Quoted in Time (July 18, 2006)
  • Armageddon is not a foreign policy.
    • Speech at Harvard forum (April 11, 2007)
  • When we're trying to solve difficult national issues its sometimes necessary to talk to adversaries as well as friends. Historians have a word for this: diplomacy.
    • Speech at Harvard forum (April 11, 2007)
  • There is a significant moral difference between a person who commits a violent crime and a person who tries to cross a border illegally in order to put food on the family table. Such migrants may violate our laws against illicit entry, but if that's all they do then they are trespassers, not criminals. They deserve to have their dignity respected.
    • On illegal migrants to the United States from Mexico and Central America, in Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership (2008), p. 225
  • I'm a critic. I think the administration has really undermined America's power and reputation and that Iraq may go down in history as the greatest disaster in American foreign policy, which means that I think it's worse than Vietnam in its unintended consequences and for our reputation. This president, because his administration is imposing democracy, which is an oxymoron, has, I think, hurt the concept. It is not just that the administration has been unilateral but that it has been unidimensional. It has paid attention primarily to one part of the world, without enough attention being paid to other parts.
    • When asked what the George W. Bush administration's legacy in foreign affairs would be, interview with Thomas Omestad, U.S. News & World Report (January 2, 2008)


Disputed[edit]

  • Hugh, I know I shouldn't even be asking you this, but what we really need in order to go in and take out Saddam is a precipitous event—something that would make us look good in the eyes of the world.  Could you have one of our U-2s fly low enough—and slow enough—so as to guarantee that Saddam could shoot it down?

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