tv Madeleine Albright on Foreign Policy CSPAN May 31, 2018 6:47pm-7:48pm EDT
the washington post to talk about foreign policy and her new book. the two also discussed and analyzed president trump's foreign policy. [applause] thank you. it's a pleasure, i want to say such a pleasure to be here with secretary albright. as you know, she served as our secretary of state from 1997 to 2001. before that she was our u.n. ambassador. she served on the nfc staff and foreign relations committee, she's teaching and running her own company and she's published a new book that we're going to
talk about in some detail called "fascism, a warning" and some might say the title is alarmist. and she says good. [applause] david: before turning to the subject matter of your book, madam secretary, i want to talk about what's very much in the news on online, a subject that you are uniquely qualified to talk about and that's north korea. the audience will remember that secretary albright went to pyong yang in october, 2000 and met there with a then leader of north korea, kim jong-il, the father of kim jong-un, and had a round of discussions with him about a deal that's very much
like the kind of deal that is being discussed as president trump prepares to go to his summit meeting on june 12th. so i want to ask secretary albright to begin by talking about that trip and talking about the nature of negotiating with this regime, then and now. sec. albright: well, first of all, i'm delighted to be here, and with you, david, because, i love reading your columns and your books, and being friends. and so, thank you very much and thank you all for coming. i do think that it is a very difficult and peculiar regime to deal with. in the case of what happened during the the clinton administration, we had, in fact, been dealing with north korea from the beginning of the administration because they had threatened to pull out of the nonproliferation treaty and there were a number of aspects that we were trying to deal with. i won't go through the story,
but we were very involved trying to figure out how to deal with north korea. and quite similarly to what's happening now. the president of south korea was somebody who wanted to have a relationship with north korea, the sunshine policy. when i watch what president moon is doing right now, and the same approach, we are one people and why can we not in some way work together. what had happened, and i say it's essential to mention is how much preparation and how much time the clinton administration had spent in trying to learn more about north korea and meeting with them a number of times at the united nations in a number of ways and yet, still, even then, it was very hard to figure out who they were and how to deal with them and what makes it interesting in terms of the
moment, this all began, my visit to north korea, with the number two guy, vice marshal cho coming to the united states in order to invite president clinton. so the number two guy is here now talking to secretary pompeo, trying to get ready for this summit. so, what happened was that we were, i think, met him in the state department. he looked very diplomatic and then we went over the next day to the white house and he was in full uniform and he gave president clinton a folder in which there was an invitation for president clinton to go. and he said, well, maybe at some point i'll be go, and prepared to second the secretary, weren't thrilled about that, but i obviously went. i think the part that needs to be stated very clearly is the year before that, 18 months before that, president clinton had asked former secretary of
defense to do a complete review of our north korea policy, and it deserved that because there was so much that had happened. and what happened was that bill pay went ahead of me several months and said this is fork in the road time. either we will use force or to negotiate. so there had been all of that preparation. so, i go. and we had no embassy there so it was really hard to figure out how everything was going to work. and we knew very little about kim jong-il. there was one thing that we did know and i take-- dennis rodman was all my fault because we did know that they liked basketball and that kim jong-il liked michael jordan. so i took offer a basketball
autographed by michael jordan -- david: the idea, madam secretary carrying in a diplomatic pouch this basketball photo is great. did you brief dennis rodman? sec. albright: no, never-- but i do think that what is interesting is how smart and informed kim jong-il was. we had a lot of kind of back and forth about basketball, but then basically he was in-- he technically knew an awful lot of things. we were actually talking about missile limits at the time. he did not consult his experts. he really was able to talk about various aspects of the programs, and he spent a lot of time on it. it was very interesting. he also could be very gracious, i mean, it was all kind of
dinners and all kinds of things, but i think that he was determined to make some progress. the problem was that it was-- we ran out of time. we were in the middle-- we had begun negotiations on the missile limits. they were held in kuala lampur. the election of 2000 happened. david: first i want to ask the baseline question which i think most of us would want to ask president trump, this seems to be a regime that tells us they're ready to make peace, but in secret is doing things contrary to that. at the time that you went to pyongyang in october, 2000, it seems as if they were already at work on what we discovered and told the world was a program to
highly enrich uranium, on the way to building a bomb, which came out two years later, but the work had probably already begun. and i think that that's the gut question i'd ask you. after your time with them, do you think they're a trustworthy counterpart in negotiations so that we could make a deal with them we'd actually feel this is a deal that will stick? sec. albright: well, i think the key word is trust. trustworthy. i think that this is why what one has to do, if there is any agreements, it has to be verifiable. it's interesting, everybody quotes president reagan, trust, but verify. we can't trust, frankly. so, it's really verification and that's one of the aspects, i hope as things go forward, that what is really detailed is what the verification process is going to be. who will be the people that do
the verifying? will they have access to things, because i think this agreement, whatever comes out of this, if something does, it cannot-- it can't be based on trust because i think maybe it's a different word in korean, but the bottom line is that it really, it has to be something that is verifiable in a way that we have developed in some other places and there has to be some way where access is part of it and where there are reports all the time. now, what's interesting, when we left office, they-- we did know that they had some materials probably to make one or two bombs, they had not made any. they did not have any icbm's and they did not have nuclear weapons. so, time is something that's not worked very much to our advantage in terms of that, the kind of things that have been developed under, well,
obviously, on their way, even by the father, before the son took over. so, trustworthy, i think you raise a very important word. can't be based on trust. it has to be based on very deep and international verification, plus, david, i think one of the words is denuclearization. we can't even come to an agreement as to what the definition of that is. what are all the elements of this that have denuclearized, and what are schedules, any number of complex issues which would have been helped had there been thinking by this administration before agreements were made to have a presidential meeting. david: i'll read briefly a passage from the book, but i'd urge people when they get secretary albright's book to look at her description of this north korean diplomacy.
it is uncertain in hindsight, she writes, how real an opportunity was missed in the period around 2000, the period we have just been talking about, that there were reasons for our hope, and i think that's really what your sentiment is to us. so, i want to close by just asking you if you would offer just brief advice for president trump as he gets ready to leave for sampor. -- singapore. when you went to pyong yang you had more experience in international diplomacy, you'd been doing it for many, many years. i think reasonable people hope that president trump will succeed, but he sure could use some advice going into this and so i want to put that to you. what's the-- if he was sitting in my seat and he said, come on,
madeleine, really, tell me. what would you tell him? sec. albright: i'd tweet it. [laughter] sec. albright: but let me say, what i think is that it would be important for him to understand who he's really dealing with in terms of that-- if he's any-- kim jong-un, like his father, i was surprised by how technically adept and smart he was. so i think that president trump has to understand that kim jong-un has spent his whole life studying this and understanding every single detail of their programs and all of that. so, actually, even though we don't know enough about he's deal with a leader that knows what he's talking about. david: that sounds like a warning, don't try to bluff this guy. sec. albright: absolutely.
the other part is really important is not to be extemporaneous. [laughter] david: good luck. fmr. sec. albright: yeah, and i think that that -- in any diplomatic talk, one of the discussions, what is really important is discipline, and every president, or all of us, frankly, when you go into these kinds of discussions, you've been briefed a lot by people, you have gone over talking points. you know how you want one discussion to lead. i can only tell you the kind of briefings i would get whenever i would go anywhere. what to expect that might be out of the ordinary, how to respond to it, to be thoughtful about you to really know that you are either the secretary of state or the president of the united states, and therefore, it has to be very disciplined in a way about what you want.
i also, i hope that i have advocated for diplomacy, especially when there were all the discussions about bombing and a variety of things, you always have to have that fourth tool in your tool kit and not take it off the table, but i had argued for diplomacy and i'm glad they're moving in that direction, but to recognize it's only the beginning of the story he has to be -- president trump has to be very careful not to kind of declare victory, but to listen and to be able to then move forward based on the understanding that a lot of detailed negotiations are going to have to take place, no matter what they decide there, to follow up. david: your successor, mike pompeo, is now center stage, meeting today, i think, in new york to explore the ground. i'm wondering whether he has reached out to you and other
former secretaries of state as he begins his tenure and if you can give us any of the flavor of what you might have said to him? fmr. sec. albright: well, first of all, i had met mike pompeo before because when he was at the cia and i had been on something called a cia external advisory board, of which i'm no longer a member, but i did -- i had met him before at a social event. he did call me when he was named and he said he'd reach out to me again, which he hasn't, he's been busy, but i do think that what i have to say in listening to his hearings, i was encouraged by two things. one was that he said that he wanted to get the state department kind of back in shape, and understood the importance of the state department and his interest in democracy. so i haven't heard from him, but i do think that he undoubtedly is more knowledgeable than most about what's going on in north korea, given the fact that he
had been director of the cia. david: let's turn to your book, "fascism, a warning," with that, striking title, the book is informed that i secretary albright's experience directly as an immigrant, as a person, as a young girl fled europe in flames from fascism, from nazism, and maybe you could open our discussion of this book by sharing a little bit of that experience. you left prague, a city where you were born, yes? and went to london and were in london during some of the awful days of the blitz and then came to america in 1948. and so, i'd ask you what was it
like to leave a prague that was under attack? what was it like to be in a london that was daily under attack, and then what was it like to come to america? fmr. sec. albright: well, first of all, i was born in 1937 and in march 39 is when the nazis marched into prague. i was a very smart two-year-old, but i don't remember it. [laughter] but what didright: happen was that my father was a czechoslovakian diplomate. we managed to escape and go to london, where the government in exile was. my father kind of worked for the government in exile. we lived in notting hill gate before it was fancy. the department was filled with refugees. what i do remember is spending every night in the cellar, you know, with everybody after the air raid sirens had gone off.
when i was working on another book, a previous one, i went back to the apartment house and i actually was stupid enough to say, do you still have a ellar?g? -- c we went down and it still had the horrible green paint that i remembered from the war and it was kind of a weird cellar. i remember my father at some point saying, "we have to go down there, but it's full of hot pipes,ipes and goas so if we get hit, it's not going to be great." i did come out later and buildings were destroyed. i did grow up during the blitz and i saw what happened and the bravery of the british people and so that had an incredible effect on me. we then went back after the war. we lived in prague for a little while, and then my father was made ambassador to yugoslavia. so we moved there.
my father didn't want me going to school with communists so i had a governess. the little girl in the national costume that gave flowers in the airport, that's what i did for a living. so, then what happened was that because i'd gotten ahead of myself, having a governorness -- governess, and in europe you have to be a certain age to be in the next level, they sent me to school in switzerland where they wouldn't feed me unless i asked for it in french, so i learned french quickly. and then the communists took over czechoslovakia and we moved again. a different form of fascism. that's what i grew up with. and arrivedmerica on november 11, 1948, veterans day, and there was thanksgiving . this is my first real feeling that i had to do something different. we gathered together and i heard
them buddy asking for god's blessing and i thought, who is asking, and i realized i was asking, and then i asked. [laughter] all i wanted to be was to be an american. then we moved to denver. my father, at that stage, he had asked for political asylum. he defected. he asked for political asylum . at that age, the rockefeller foundation was finding jobs for central european intellectuals or something and they found him a job at university of denver. and they had no idea where denver was. we started driving across america. my mother said, they say denver is the mile high city, but we're not going up so maybe we're going the wrong direction. [laughter] fmr. sec. albright: but the bottom line is we were refugees. in fact, at that stage we were called displaced persons. and my father wrote a book about "mr. dp discovers america", what
we really wanted, i, wanted to be an american teenager, and every single way, but it wasn't easy to fit in. first of all, i had very ethnic parents. we kept eating czech food and a lot of family solidarity, but the bottom line is that my whole desire was to have a normal american life. the thing about me, though, is my parents were remarkable in theng that crazy story, abnormal seem normal. so going from place to place was something that i kind of grew up with. i did not become an american citizen until i was at wellesley between my sophomore and junior year, and partially, it took us a long time to get our citizenship because we were here, were getting it during the mccarthy era, and so, there was a question about why had my father spent any time at all working for a coalition government where the deputy
foreign minister was a communist and his assignment was partially after being ambassador to yugoslavia on a new commission to deal with india and pakistan then the coupand happened. for a period of time he reported to the british, and the americans, not to his own government. but anyway, i became a citizen in 1958. david: let me just ask you as somebody who came to america not simply as an immigrant, but as a refugee fleeing war, chaos in europe, what you think when you hear president trump use some of the language that he does about immigrants? fmr. sec. albright: well, i'm appalled, but let me just -- something that my father used to say, when we were in england, we would say, people would -- were
very kind. they'd come up and say we're so sorry your country has been taken over by a terrible dictator. you're welcomed here, what can we do to help you and when are you going home? [laughter] fmr. sec. albright: when we came to america, we're so sorry that your country was taken over and you are welcome here, what can when willelp you, and you become a citizen? my father said that's what made america different from every country. for me, when i see what is happening now, i can better it -- i consider it an outrage. this country is based on people being proud to be here and being proud to be americans. one of the things i love to do is naturalization ceremonies, i can't swear people in, i and not an officer of the law, but i can give them their certificate. the first time i did was 2004 in monticello, and thomas jefferson's home, and i figured since i had his job, i could do that.
gave people their naturalization certificates, and all of a sudden, i hear this man saying, can you believe i'm a refugee and i just got my citizenship paper, naturalization papers from the secretary of state? and i said can you believe that , a refugee is secretary of state? and so when i think about what really people want to do and contribute and be a part of this country, the stunning number recently is we have deplored what, in fact, happened in syria where people were destroyed or suffered from a chemical attack. the number of syrians that have been able to come to the united states is less than the number of people that were affected by that chemical weapon. really terrible -- i have traveled around the united states a lot. we are a very large country. we have a lot of room. and i think people should be welcomed here, having been vetted in a number of different ways, but really, to be welcoming because that is what
this country is based on. so, i think it's un-american and appalling what is happening and then the other thing is, we can't tell other countries what to do if we aren't showing some kind of leadership in this. one of the issues is, as we get more into what i think is happening in europe, a lot of it has to do with the fact that migrants, refugees, are viewed -- are not welcomed, and if we want to tell the europeans to take more, how can we possibly do that if we are banning certain people, some of them very specifically against muslims? just generally i think, un-american. david: i want to invite the audience both here and watching this on live stream, if that's available, to submit any questions that you've got to #securingtomorrow and they will magically arrive on my ipad here and we'll try to look at some of them.
so i want to take secretary albright through some parts of her book that i found especially interesting, sometimes upsetting. and i want to start with your basic description because it's hauntingly evocative of what we've been living through. your basic description, how fascism rose in your europe in the 20th century, in the 1920's. you write, "fascism came into being early in the 20th century, a time of intellectual livelyiness and insurgent nationalism, coupled with widespread disappointment at the failure of representative parliaments to keep pace with the technology driven industrial revolution," and that political dysfunction that europe experienced sounds an awful lot like what we've been seeing.
we have had a broken congressional system now for some time. i'm wondering how do you see the ground on which hitler and built, the ways it is similar, the ways it is different, how you would assess that? fmr. sec. albright: well, i think that in doing the research for this book, i have to say that even though i knew a lot of the history, the echoes of what has happened in that period certainly came through loud and clear. i think that what is very similar is the fact that there were more and more divisions in society between the have's and the have-not's, something to do with employment and the extent to which technology made certain jobs more difficult or fewer jobs. the other part, i think, very much a disappointment by some people in terms of how various wars had been carried out, who
were the victims in terms of the people that were coming back, that were not reintegrated into society. i think, also, and in europe, specifically more than i think happened here, is a lot of the governments were new. they had come into place after world war i, and they, in fact, were really not dealing with the issues particularly well because they were so complex in terms of the divisions in the society that were there. and then, i think, that the fact that there all of a sudden became leaders, this is true with mussolini at the beginning exacerbated the divisions instead of trying to find common ground and i think that's a similarity. something that applies now, and i have to admit that this is a purely plagiarized line that i stole from silicon valley, which
is that people now are talking to their governments on 21st century technology. they are -- the governments are listening to them on 20th century technology and providing 19th century responses, and so, there really is no faith in institutions. i think that that was one of the things that happened in the 1930's. so, all of a sudden, some leader comes up who has fairly direct and simple slogans, to say, i will take care of you. and there was this identification with nationalism or tribalism and a way of excluding those that did not, in fact, fit into whatever image there was of that tribal national group. so, patriotism is one thing, but nationalism, hyper nationalism, very dangerous and that was basically how it started. a tribal group that was really elaborated on and promised more
things to by this leader who was a demagogue, at the exclusion of other people, and then the part that i think goes a little bit back to the immigrant story, and then finding scapegoats, foreigners of various types that were responsible for some of the problems by taking away jobs or being sediscious in some way. -- seditious in some particular way. fmr. sec. albright: part of the mystery -- david: part of the mystery when we read this history is that germany prided itself of being the most civilized country in europe with a tradition of music, of philosophy, of science, just the level of distinction and cultivation. what is striking as you replay the story is the way in which hitler was a rag-tag band of followers, and a strutting,
shouting style, broke through the barriers most germans probably thought were there. there's a passage in your book where you talk in particular about the german business establishment and what it did. and i just want to read that passage which, again, i found haunting. the country's political establishment, big business, the military and the church had initially dismissed the nazis as a band of loud-mouthed hooligans who would never attract support. over time saw a bulwark against communism, nothing more. men,underestimate the hitler's, because his lack was taken -- he was taken as an attempt at term. he was to members of the polled guard clearly an amateur who was in over his head and unlikely to remain popular for long. there is a way in which elements of our business establishment have decided with all of the disruption, all of the, you know, loud and troubling
comments that come out this have white house, to make a tactical alliance, they like the tax plan, this and that. when you're with long-time republican friends on capitol hill, who were people in a sense, who hold the balance right now in terms of how this story plays out, what do you tell them? do you ever reflect back on what happened with the german establishment in a similar situation so long ago? fmr. sec. albright: well, i think that what is interesting to me is that -- and i do have republican friends -- is that they are, in some ways, hoping this will go away and that there are certain advantages because there is a difference, i think, between democrats and republicans about the role of government, generally.
so, i think that there are certain that prefer not having a lot of regulations and government intrusion and certainly like the new tax plan. so, it's kind of like, this will go away, and there are those that i think to a great extent are a part of what i call normalizing what is going on and of thinking that we'll get over this. and i do think that what needs to happen more, and i kind of -- we all know the statements, see something, say something. i have added to that, do something. think one can't just kind of assume, because -- what i find interesting, the unemployment rate is down and the stock market seems to be booming.
the bottom line is, actually, unemployment rate was going down under president obama, but the bottom line, there's a sense that economically things are not so bad, and especially if one forgets about how bad they are for other people. and so, i think there is this kind of approach of we'll get over it, which i inc. makes me very nervous. and you were talking about congress. i have spent a lot of time out there recently and i keep telling them it's article one time. the first article of the constitution is about the power of congress and we're about to have elections, so one of the things that i have on my to-do list is for people that disagree with this to get involved, to either -- i'm not saying this to the republicans, but to others, to run for office, you know? [laughter] i do think that part of what
bothers me, and i'm not think am sitting at "the washington post," but the disrespect for the press. freedom of the press is a basic aspect of democracy, invented by americans, and by talking about the press as the enemy of the people, it's outrageous, and i think that's where people, whatever party, have to start saying, that is not normal. that cannot happen. if you go back to the 1930's, part of what did go on was pure propaganda and this amateur, hitler, really being able to find some professionals like joseph googles -- joseph goebbels in order to use the media to build on this nationalist part. what's interesting, you talk about intellectual germans, a lot of them liked very nationalist literature and music. while being intellectuals, they were also kind of able to integrate it into a picture that they wanted, to suited hitler in terms of the grandeur of the german nation.
david: another part of our democratic tradition, i would say, which you can see in almost all of our greatest presidents, is empathy. the ability to empathize with other people, it's a striking quality in abraham lincoln. it's, i believe, in president washington. it was part of harry truman, simple haberdasher. it was part of eisenhower. go down the list and you find sometimes imperious personalities have that ability to see life through other's eyes. you and i on friday were at radcliffe for a ceremony that was really honoring secretary clinton, your successor at the
state department, and one of the themes that was most poignant in that discussion was her description of how she learned to be empathetic as a young woman. i say that as a prelude to something that just leaped out at me, talking about hitler and what made hitler so toxic, so different and dangerous. you quote him saying in august, 1939, when some of his generals weren't sure about, you know, going to war, and mussolini wasn't sure that italy was ready, and hitler says, "close your hearts to pity. and do it, and move forward." and maybe you could just speak a little about that quality of empathy, and the ability to see the suffering of others, and bring that into presidential
leadership, and its importance. fmr. sec. albright: well, i think it's an essential part of presidential leadership or any leaders to be able to understand what is going on with the people, and why. instead of what hitler did and mussolini in terms of identifying with those already that didn't have any respect for those that were on the outside. so, it's the opposite of empathy. by the way, i can't resist saying this, because i'm chairman of the truman foundation and i don't know how many you've been to independence, in going to the house that harry truman returned to, and came from after he was president, it doesn't look exactly like margo largo or whatever it's called. [laughter] no.d: i have been thrown out of mar-a-lago.
[laughter] sec. albright: but, i do think that there has to be some aspect of really understanding. it goes to the very pieces of this, which is the idea that this demagogic leader, hit learn and mussolini and others i talk about in the book identify , themselves with a nationalistic group that then has to close their hearts and their minds to anybody that isn't the same, and make up about that they ultimately will be even more victorious if they stick with this leader and begin to believe a myth about what they can do, and then really denigrate everybody else and exclude them in terms of any rights. it is that division i think that is at the basis of fascist power. david: we have a question that was sent to, again, the hashtag is #securingtomorrow on twitter
. the question for you have you , been in contact with hillary clinton lately? how is she doing? [laughter] david: i happen to know that you have been in contact with her recently because it was just last friday. so, maybe you could share your impressions of secretary clinton a year and a half after. sec. albright: well, it was great to see her. we stay in touch. we went to the same college. she's 10 years younger than i am. david: that would be wellesley. sec. albright: yes that would be , wellesley. and i obviously stay in touch with her. i think she is still -- what is interesting because i gave a talk there, and we talked in my introduction to her that she's clearly the better diplomat, because she started out with her book title "what happened" and , mine is "fascism, a warning" so -- but i think in many ways, she is trying to analyze what
happened. i think what she's trying to do is to, in many ways, build on her own experiences and has put together this moving forward together movement, trying to really be as helpful as she can to the group that is being excluded, frankly. i think her instincts, as was evident when i first met her when she was head of the children's defense fund, is to really reach out to people. i think she's sorry, there's no question, about what happened , and i think he is still working work through it. we talked about this. i think she had a very nice day with all of us last saturday, but it's not simple, obviously. this follows, at least in my mind, slightly from talking about secretary clinton, you write in your book about leaving prague, leaving czechoslovakia after the communists took over.
you say "the story of the communists taking over czechoslovakia holds lessons that still need absorbing. good guys don't always win, especially when they are divided and less determined than their adversaries." littleou just speak a bit about that issue, that the good guys don't always win, and when they are divided and don't have that intensity and passion that the other side does, that they go down in defeat? that could be, some would argue, a capsule description of our 2016 election. sec. albright: i think it's central what we're talking about, which is that democracy is obviously about a lot of different voices and we respect the fact that people have different views, and there is a real value to discussing those different views.
the problem that i saw, frankly, in europe now, what has happened is that the opposition parties are all divided. they are busier disagreeing with each other than trying to form some kind of a coalition. and one of the aspects that did happen and it's happening in the united states now, i think both political parties have extremes and there are a lot of with lot of divisions. i do think that one of the things that has to happen is to find -- it me, one of the issues is trying to find common ground, and compromise is not a four-letter word. so, the question is how, in fact, to elaborate on discussions and to find out what the differences are and try to find common ground, but it's very frustrating when you've got more problems trying to get your party together on some kind of a common line, and then let the opposition, those that are in
the other party pick you apart, because there is opposition. and it's very true in europe, and to some extent, it's obviously true here. it's very hard to say, you know, you all have to think exactly alike. so the question is how to air the differences and then try to be pragmatic and come together in some way that you're not killing each other off. david: there's a very lively debate going on now in the democratic party between people who say we need to learn the lessons of the past and take a harder left position to be as tough, i want to say ruthless, but that's not quite the right word, but as tough in pushing our views as those on the right have been. there's another side in that debate that says we have to learn the lessons of the past and hold on tight to the broad
center where most americans are and not go to the extreme wings. in that debate that's going on in the party, where is madeleine albright? sec. albright: i am definitely a centrist. i do think it's important to know what the views are, but i have found my career plus my thinking has been to be a centrist. i would definitely, if i had to choose one direction or another, i would move towards the left, not towards the right, but i do think that it is important. the problem is just the vocabulary, the middle way sounds kind of wimpy. moshe -- mushy, as is usually described. sec. albright: yes. but i do think, i'd like to hear what the ideas are. i wish there were a way to have -- one of the things i call for
that is on my to-do list, how to talk to people that you disagree with. i don't like the word tolerance, from tolerate, put up with. i prefer respect. i want to know what the left and right have to say, but i'm always somebody that tries to bring people together and find that, as i said, compromise is necessary. a lot about democracy is compromise, but it has to be done on the basis of understanding what the position is and putting yourself in the other person's shoes and try to bring them together. you lose -- i think if you're an extremist wherever, you end up losing and also going further to an extreme than you had intended in the first place, i think, because you're bound and determined to persuade somebody that they are stupid and you are not. we are now, as a country, among other things, struggling with an investigation of
russia's attempts to manipulate our politics in 2016 through hacking, through what's called weaponized information. and the person directing that is by our intelligence community's account, russian president vladimir putin. you have a passage in your book where you go to meet putin in moscow in 2000. he's just come in as russia's president and you're meeting him after the yeltsin years, and flying home, you write a little memo to yourself. i'm going to read it because it's pretty riveting and then i'm going to ask you to explain what you meant by the language. you wrote, "putin is small and pale, so cold as to be almost
reptilian." [laughter] "he was in east germany when the berlin wall fell and says he understands why it had to happen, a position built on the law, and expected something to rise in its place and nothing was proposed. the soviets simply dropped everything and went away. he argued that a lot of problems could have been avoided had they not made such a hasty exit. putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness." that's writing in 2000. 18 years ago. so tell us how that story is played out and tell us how we should best deal with the person you described as so cold as to be almost reptilian. sec. albright: well, first of all, president putin, i first met putin before that when he was kind of acting president at
an apec meeting in new zealand . at that stage putin was trying , to be very ingratiating and trying to make new friends. he was still cold and reptilian. the issue about him is he is very smart. in these meetings, he did not have talking points and he took notes himself. he also is somebody, i have to describe this because they actually did kind of a jazz concert for president clinton, and president clinton jiving was driving around, and putin is sitting like this, no rhythm whatsoever -- [laughter] -- but the thing that is is how smart he really was. the thing that i speak to more is something that happened before that. in 1991, when the soviet union had fallen apart, i was running a think tank and i was asked to
participate in a big survey of all of europe after the end of the cold war. we had questionnaires and focus groups and things like that. and the focus group, i'll never forget, is one outside of moscow where this man stands up and says, "i'm so embarrassed. we used to be a superpower, and now we are bangladesh with missiles." happened, or it's not so easy or difficult to deduce this, but putin identified himself with the person that felt that the dignity and the grandeur of russia had been lost and he has -- is bound and determined to restore that in every single way. and what he's done is reinterpret history in order to say that we never respected russia, that the expansion, everything that we were doing was opposed to russia, and that
it is his duty to bring everything back. the other part, and i've done a lot of reading about him, in addition to meeting with him, he is -- he's a kgb agent. he knows how to -- he has played a weak hand very, very well. he is very good at propaganda. when you control everything, he has weaponized information. his goal is not only to restore russia, but to make sure that the united states' position in europe is undermined by having a separation of the other democracies from us. we can see the effect of that, hungary is definitely the main exhibit on this, but generally using information, and then using information to get involved in our election process. he is -- he's an expert at this kind of thing, but he's determined and he has a goal, and he's smart. we cannot underestimate him. he is playing, as i said, a
weak hand very well. david: so, what does your experience tell you about how the united states should deal with this ex-kgb officer, very high risk tolerance, willing to push right to the limits and then past? what's wise strategy, is the word i want to choose, in dealing with him? sec. albright: well, first of all, i think that we need to -- we can't just have a relationship, an adversarial relationship. i think the art of diplomacy is trying to figure out where the areas that we can cooperate and where we have to really stand up to what we believe in. there are areas in which we should be cooperating. climate change, dealing with some terrorists we agree are the real terrorists together, and then trying to figure out a
number of different, how to deal with world health problems, any number of things that require multilateral cooperation, nuclear proliferation, for one. but then, really stand up for what we believe in in terms of our values, and understand that while putin is the leader and we have a president, that there are bureaucracies under that in terms of trying to figure out what the various relationships are. the thing that makes this all complicated, we were asked at the end -- by the way, i think it was a mistake for us to say we won the cold war, they lost the cold war. that's not a semantic difference. the communist system failed. what has happened is putin says was the biggest disaster in 20th century was the dissolution of the soviet union. given what happened in the 20th century, that would be a slight overstatement. [laughter] i think we have to understand
where he's coming from, and push back where we have to. to doe been asked something that has never been done before, how to devolve the power of our major adversary. we are still trying to figure that out. i do think that it's terrible if we don't stand up for our values , and if the president of the united states stands next to a polish leader that is trying to get rid of his judicial system and praise him, that doesn't exactly help our case. we have to know what we believe in and try to push back what the russians are doing to undermine all of those countries and at the same time find areas where we can cooperate. it's not simple, but i think there needs to be a strategy. what i actually think, the new defense strategy of the united states has now said that russia and china are our major adversarees. i think that is a gift to putin.
they are not the equivalent of china. is a power that is evolving in a very big way, and penetrating various places. the russians aren't there. but i'm sure that putin was very happy to read that. david: in this final question , because we're approaching 10:00, i want to ask you the central puzzle of this book, "fascism, a warning", i'll quote something you write toward the end of the book. "given that fascism sends to tends to take hold in a step by step manner rather than taking one giant leap, could it ever proceed very far in america before being stopped? is the united states immune to this malady or susceptible?" you pose that question, so directly, i want to ask you for your answer. sec. albright: well, first of
all, the best quote in the book is from mussolini, which is if you pluck a chicken one feather at a time, you don't notice it. we are plucking the chicken and . this is a warning in terms of steps that i think are there that make me -- by the way, i do not say that trump is a fascist. i think that trump is the most undemocratic president in the modern american history and i do think he does not respect the institutions and thinks he's above the law, and does not, in fact -- and uses the media in a variety of different ways. i am concerned. my issue -- i often asked if i'm am an optimist or a pessimist -- i'm an optimist who worries a lot. [laughter] decided to write this book because of the steps that are there, and to go back to something that my father said when we came to the united states, he was worried about the fact that americans took
democracy for granted. i think we can't do that. on my to do list is basically to worry about the fact of discriminating against one group, the attack on the press, the lack of respect for other thattutions, and i think we have to -- i did -- it is an alarmist book in that particular way. i basically don't think it can happen here, but i decided it was worth laying out what the steps are, what the chicken feathers, what they're adding up to, and try to figure out how we go back and strengthen our institutions, have people speak out, and there's not a book or a speech that's ever been given that doesn't quote robert frost. robert frost said that the older he gets, his teachers are younger. and so now, it's the high school students in so many ways that are out there wanting our institutions to work so that they don't have to go to school with flak jackets on.
and so, i think we need to be supportive of those that want to make sure that our democracy works, that we can find common ground, that we don't have leaders that exacerbate the differences, but are lead people that can bring us together. so, an optimist who worries a lot. david: so, that is a superb answer. one question just came in on twitter and i'm going to ask it because we have a minute and 59 seconds left. this is a question, you have a famous collection of brooches and pins. you even wrote a book about them in which you said you use them as tools of democracy, of diplomacy, and this person asked on twitter, what is the significance of the brooch that you're wearing today? sec. albright: well, it's in your honor, david, because it is a writer's pen, and i so admire "theyou write, and what
washington post" says, so i thought i would wear that. it's one of my more pleasant pins. [laughter] and one that kind of fits in with our russian theme. when the russians were bugging the state department when i was secretary of state and we found the guy listening, and did what diplomats do, is demarche moscow about doing that. the next time i met with the foreign minister, i wore a huge bug and he knew exactly what i was talking about. [laughter] [applause] david: so, madam secretary, thank you for being with us. it's been a wonderful conversation. the book, again, i really commend. i don't put yellow post-it notes in all of books that i talk about here, but this one is very powerful read. thank you so much for joining us.
sec. albright: thank you all, thank you very much. [applause] [applause] speeches allnt this week in primetime. tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern, apple ceo tim cook, governor john kasich, governor kate brown, and congressman luis gutierrez. and on friday at 8:00 p.m. eastern, jimmy carter, betsy devos, representative mark meadows, and atlanta mayor keisha lance bottoms. primetime on c-span, c-span.org, and the free c-span radio app. >>