Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was a native Czech, has died of cancer at the age of 84.
Albright was a central figure in President Bill Clinton’s administration, first serving as US ambassador to the United Nations before becoming the nation’s top diplomat in his second term.
She championed the expansion of NATO, pushed for the alliance to intervene in the Balkans to stop genocide and ethnic cleansing, sought to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons, and championed human rights and democracy across the globe.
She was a face of US foreign policy in the decade between the end of the Cold War and the war on terror triggered by the September 11, 2001, attacks, an era heralded by President George H.W. Bush as a “new world order.”
The US, particularly in Iraq and the Balkans, built international coalitions and occasionally intervened militarily to roll back autocratic regimes, and Albright — a self-identified “pragmatic idealist” who coined the term “assertive multilateralism” to describe the Clinton administration’s foreign policy — drew from her experience growing up in a family that fled the Nazis and communists in mid-20th century Europe to shape her worldview.
She saw the US as the “indispensable nation” when it came to using diplomacy backed by the use of force to defend democratic values around the world.
Born Marie Korbelová in Prague in 1937, Madeleine Albright grew up in the UK with her family in exile, she then served in the US administration during the Cold War.