Madeleine Albright: ‘To Put It Mildly, the World Is a Mess’

by Katherine Connell

Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright thinks that there have been two “huge game-changers” in world affairs recently: Putin’s actions toward Crimea and Ukraine and the unraveling of the Middle East.

In an interview with Bob Schieffer on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday, she described the unrest in the Middle East as a result of an Arab awakening and reaction to the artificiality of borders that were drawn in the region following World War I. As for Russia, “Putin is living in his own world,” she said. “He has made up a lot of lies,” and seeks to “reestablish himself as the identification of Russian nationalism” and to recreate “something akin to the Soviet Union.”

When asked for her thoughts on the conflict in Gaza, Albright said that while she was a believer in Israel’s moral authority and its need to ensure its security, she is “concerned about Israel . . . in terms of their image,” given the mounting Palestinian casualities. She lauded Secretary of State John Kerry “for all the effort” he has put in to attempting to broker negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, while acknowledging that it had not succeeded.

Schieffer noted that in the face of all this turmoil, President Obama has seemed to be otherwise occupied. “Every time you turn on a TV he’s en route to a fundraiser,” he said, asking if Albright agreed that that was a fair criticism.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” she said. “He has his advisers around him” and “has been on the phone,” she said.

While Albright disputed the idea that the U.S. is “stepping back” from world affairs, she said that what has changed is Americans’ attitude to engagement: “We don’t want to be the world’s policeman.”

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