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NC political science experts recall Madeleine Albright’s legacy

Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 11:59 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The country’s first female secretary of state died Wednesday afternoon at age 84 from cancer.

While most politicians and civilians were fans of Madeleine Albright, North Carolina political science experts say if there was something she would be criticized for, it was her relentlessness to attack issues from the start.

“She helped create organizations that advanced women in international politics, both people that wanted to work in government and international policy, as well as people who wanted to work in academia,” said NC State political science professor Robert Reardon.

A major role of the secretary of state is to be an advocate for American policy abroad.

“She was somebody who, as secretary of state, was widely known, admired, and respected within the United States,” said Steven Greene, a colleague of Reardon’s at NC State.

In the 1990s, Albright watched over developing nations like a hawk and pushed her peers to make the United States a guide for new nations. While secretary of state, Albright was an advocate for NATO and American involvement in developing democracies.

“She saw the cold war as opening up an opportunity for the United States to bring a lot of these countries that were formerly within the Soviet’s sphere of influence into the community of democratic states,” said Reardon.

Albright addressed issues of unrest, all while breaking the proverbial glass ceiling.

“The secretary of state, after the president, is the representation of America to every other country,” said Greene. “You know it’s hard to say what’s good at being secretary of state, but insofar as there is a good at being secretary of state, I think there is largely a consensus that she really was.”

Albright was appointed to the top diplomatic position for Clinton’s second presidential term. She was confirmed by a Senate vote of 99-0.

Before taking that position, Albright was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She was a professor, an author, and an advocate for women taking on leadership roles in the workplace.

A child refugee from Nazi- and then Soviet- dominated Eastern Europe, Albright was described by President Biden as a “champion of democracy and human rights.”

She was awarded the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by former president Barack Obama in 2012; Reardon saying that honor was inevitable.

President Biden has ordered flags at the White House and other federal buildings and grounds to be flown at half-staff until Sunday, March 27.

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