I regret what has been left out and mean no disrespect to the people and nations whose names do not appear within these pages. I will continue to write, telling other parts of the story along the way. This volume, then, is a personal account, not a history of the Clinton administration foreign policy or even a remotely comprehensive chronicle of world affairs at the end of the last century. It does, however, deal with the highlights, some involving issues that have continued to dominate the headlines since I left office, including terrorism, Iraq, the Middle East, and North Korea. The danger in writing such a book is that the world continues to change while the text has to be copy edited, printed, bound, and distributeda process requiring months. The text of this volume was completed during the tumultuous spring of 2003. What has happened since is known to youthe readerbut not to me as I write. You have that advantage, and it will, I am sure, influence your reading of some of the key chapters that follow.
Lives are necessarily untidy and uneven, but there is a certain symmetry to the tale of my own. While for some people diplomacy and foreign policy are acquired interests, I had them in my blood. My father had been a diplomat and also a professor, and from childhood I was his most avid student.
Historical forces similar to those that shaped my personal destiny resurfaced during my years as a decision maker in government. When I was still a little girl, my family was driven from its home twice, first by Fascists, then by Communists. While in office I was able to fight against ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, a country where I had lived as a child. For most of my life Communism divided Europe. I spent my academic life studying its effects. Once in office I was able to help the newly democratic nations of Central and East Europe, including the land of my birth, Czechoslovakia, become full partners of the free world. I could apply the lessons of my own experience to support the aspirations of women at work, at school, and in the home. I also strove to reform and revitalize the United Nations, an institution my father had served at a pivotal moment in our lives.
Most of all, having been witness at a very young age to what happens when America plays only a passive role in world affairs, I used my position to work closely with allies and friends on every continent to build a united front in support of liberty and in opposition to the forces of intolerance, unbridled ambition, and hate.
I have read many autobiographies and found the best to be the most honest. So, honest I have tried to be, even when it has been hard........
From Madame Secretary by Madeline Albright. Copright Madeline Albright 2003. All rights reserved.
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