DiscoverThe Axe Files with David AxelrodEp. 126 - Madeleine Albright

Ep. 126 - Madeleine Albright

Update: 2017-03-02


Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State, speaks with David Axelrod about her experiences as a young political refugee in the 1940s and how that shapes her view of President Trump’s travel ban; the effect the Trump presidency is having on the global order; why it’s important for the U.S. to stay engaged in the world; and her view on Steve Bannon’s role within the White House.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

the board for the acts files comes from rockin' mortgage my Quicken loans lift the burden of getting a home loan with rockin' mortgage and get a secure transparent home loan approval in minutes skip the bank of the waiting then go completely online at Quicken loans dot com slash X Files This podcast is brought you by sixty DB listen to conversations that go beyond the headlines business sports politics today's news plus all of your favorite podcasts download the free sixty DB at Today the the the and now from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN The X Files with your host David Axelrod the the the Madeline Albright is not only the great American States woman choose a great American story and given recent events and the UN settlement seem like a good time to sit down and get some of her wisdom so I visited with her in Washington as the The Secretary Albright welcome it's always always good to see you wonderful to see you but particularly in these very interesting times and I really think I always start these conversations by asking people about their journeys but yours seems particularly germane given some of the issues that have arisen in the last few months because no one really understands the path of refugees in the experience of being driven from one's country more readily than you that was your childhood it definitely was I can identify myself in many ways one is the most important one a grateful American because what happened was my father was a chick or Slovak diplomat I was born in nineteen thirty seven two years before the war really started and he had been somebody that have been in the government he and when the Nazis marched into Jack sock in March thirty nine my parents decided they had to leave because they couldn't be around for the Nazis and so we went to England and I spent the war in England and we were refugees there my father was with the government in exile and he actually broadcast over BBC into Czechoslovakia but I live to the blitz and we went to Aries shoulders and I really did feel very much I was a little girl but obviously it was a vulnerability was clear very clear and spending the night in to this day remember the This was the seller or large apartment house and I remember my father saying even then well it's good to be there but they're hot water pipes and gas pipes there and if there were bomb we wouldn't survive it we moved out of London after the blitz at two a town called Walton on Thames where what people said was that if there were a bomb that hit your house there was an iron table that existed if you had in your house and you are angry at you it survive and so I remember this iron table leave I played around the table I am a table I slept on the table so that as there was the beginning of my life and then part of what is really ugly it might even my life is going up down up down so now when we the war was over my father returned and four while he chuckles to Czechoslovakia we lived in Prague and he was kind of chief of staff at the four ministry for a while and then he was made Czechoslovakia ambassador to Yugoslavia so I always say the little girl in the national costume that gives flowers at the airport that's what I did my father didn't want me going to school with the communists and so I had a governess and I didn't have and very few friends and in Europe when you get ahead of yourself you can go to the next level so my parents sent me to Switzerland to school and I didn't speak French and they wouldn't feed me until I spoke French so I learn French but then what happened was the communists took over Czechoslovakia and we left again and my father K week he came to the United States under the auspices of the United Nations and then defected and asked for political asylum and the story told about our lives just kind of encapsulate everything he said we were in England people were very kind they said were so sorry your country's been taken over by a terrible dictator you're welcome here what can we do to help you and many are going home we came to the United States people said We're so sorry of countries been taken over by a terrible system you're welcome here what can we do to help you and only become a citizen and my father really said that is what made America different from every country and soul daresay that's what made America great it did absolutely and I do think the diversity of our country really is something that I do think are exceptional I really do think are exceptional I have never thought that we could ask for exceptions to the rules but I do think this is an exceptional country for accepting people like me and others and not only accepting that it's kind of an incredible story to go from being a refugee to being secretary of state so I know my my father was an immigrant from Ukraine also fled tyranny but in a different era and I've always been proud to live in a country that people fled to the people where people wanted to go because they felt that they could live in freedom and find opportunity seems that that's a great straight so tell me through the comment on what you're seeing now through the prism of your own experience as a young girl well I am what is going on now is I would say is an American anti American and very dangerous because I think this country has been enriched by people from different countries and different backgrounds but the way that there has become such an anti immigrant focus on things has I think Curtis very badly first of all it has limited the number of people obviously the one coming on a Professor and I know for instance that there's real concern about how many foreign students will be able to come in how are American students can go travel abroad and to research any number of things are really limit us but I also think that what is he if this was the kind of anti immigrant rhetoric and the executive order that came out was supposed to protect us it is done the opposite frankly it's a great recruiting tool for ISIS then also it has in fact made it very dangerous for our troops in Iraq for instance because people are they're afraid to help them and very clearly the interpreters said that we need to be there then it has limited our capability to collect intelligence and from the countries that have been quo band and so I think it has hurt us in many ways it alls who is when you when you say it makes her troops unsafe it also has approved provocation for homegrown terrorists here which is the biggest threat from terrorism we face right now radicalized citizens are already or permanent residents who through social media have become move to to violence so certainly this was unhelpful in that regard on your point on a rack or acting on the list put in jeopardy people who have been cooperative absolutely I mean there's so many things wrong with it I mean partially it was a bad idea for its substantive reasons it also was rolled out in a way that shows the complete lack of understanding of the US government by the Trump administration in terms of no coordination of not understanding how the system works putting the cabinet members that quote knew about it into a very uncomfortable position than the real integration of the judicial system the language that came out about that and I think has shown a very bad picture in terms of who we are I also have been abroad a lot and people wonder what is America these days I mean we have been known for being generous and kind the other part David is that what has happened is that in Europe the large number of refugees have gone into Europe and that certainly angle or Merkel in Germany has been the most generous in opening up their borders and in other countries have taken some of the refugees and we are telling people you've got to take more are taking less President Obama was generous in terms of opening up and saying that we need to take more refugees President Tom has cut that in half and then already put this band and I'd think it's we can't tell other countries what to do if we are not being generous ourselves or actually counter very bad in terms of not understanding the importance of this issue if you are here of course you would say that he's just trying to as you point out the stem of the potential of violent anti American elements coming into the country home but the but the refugee screening that's been done is the most rigorous in the world already no question to put in by President Obama in terms of I think they're like twenty steps that are very very rigorous on this and takes couple of years a long time and Anna are people that scream the visas are very capable and look at it but I go back to I said earlier this is encouraging those that have anti views anti Islamic and anti American views about what we think about Islam is just a recruiting tool that's the problem I've never seen anything done that is quite as counterproductive as this executive order I am interested in in your conversations with people overseas you must talk to foreign leaders in your counterparts former leaders and diplomats what are they saying to you well first of all I did create a group of former foreign ministers we talk about whatever we want whenever we want and the last couple of meetings that we've had have been specifically about refugees among our former foreign ministers there are some that are refugees jar top and rail in Greece said for instance and yes K Fisher from in Germany and so we've been talking about when international things we can do but most recently I just came from this Munich Security Conference them what was so interesting is I've been to then myself many times n e the US has always been the center of the discussion but mostly about what we can do to be helpful and what our role is in the world this time people were very confused by the kinds of things that Trump is candidate had said and even president wrote in terms of of saying that border where does our stand what is our stand on the European Union and so even though Vice President of Pence came a singer J Maddox was there saying that we were committed to NATO people come up to me and say well fine words but what are the actions was really going to happen here and so and then the other part that truly troubled me nobody there I know well the two Americans is folk but also then President Trump has talked about our values in terms of America's system and so what has happened is there were the foreign minister of Russia Sergei Lavrov and Zarif the foreign minister of Iran the foreign minister of Turkey and the foreign minister China said We are now in a post Western world so all of a sudden the kinds of things that have really showed why America's leadership is important why people look to this country President Reagan's shining city on the hail all that all of a sudden has dissipated with the America first and then ban discrimination against people and in horrible language visa VI than the Mexicans you know saying we've got bad arm raise any I've never seen anything like this in terms of moving away from what the basic values of the United States are when we came to the United States we sailed in on a ship called the SS America and I did go by the statue of Liberty as eleven years old so those words are implanted in my head and I have said there's no fine print at the bottom of that statement that we won't take x y or Z kind of people is ridiculous this is anti American and yet this is sort of the core of the appeal that he made as a candidate that this sort of a battleship America thing that we're going to pull up the drawbridge and that was the point of his his inaugural speech America first what are the consequences of that in terms of our law our long term security and the security of the world well I think that we it is the responsibility the president stays to protect our people our territory in our way of life are people are internationally minded they travel they want to do things and then many of them actually do have backgrounds in other countries and Leah we see ourselves as being part of the international system our territory we have been blessed by having two friendly neighbors on the north and south and protected by two oceans we have been until nine eleven and so I do think it as complicated a little bit in terms of how we deal with our security issues but our way of life is totally dependent on having partners in other countries and we are interconnected and so I think that by saying that we can pull up the drawbridge and be hostile towards those that are different I think it is in the media may be in the short term it's attractive to people who feel they're competing with some former fur job or that our jobs have been outsourced but in the medium turn it hurts us it is very shortsighted and we will suffer our economy will suffer our capability of competing in a number of different ways and of being leaders I see the Anais and what kind of the theme of my life has always been is when the US is absent such as in Munich for instance when a deal was made the British and French made a deal with the Germans and Italians over the heads of the Czechoslovakia the US was in there and then as a little girl when the Americans came they acts were there you could feel it and it was things were going to be alright and they were alright and then when at the end of World War two the British they we in the Russians made a deal kind of divide year and that was terrible so I can go on but every time the US has kind of absent itself or been on the wrong side terrible things happen so we have to be leaders and so that's what troubles me it strikes me then you live through this very poor tent this time and what emerged from the disaster of World War Two was a very sturdy world order in which America was at the center and the alliance between America and Europe was central to that that seems to be fraying now and as you look at Europe what do you see because there is this rising nationalism there we saw in practice it you see it with the rise of Le pen in France Angela Merkel as you point out has been very generous in accepting refugees but some political price and she is now trailing in polling for the first time in six or seven years there what we're is this headed well I think it's very dangerous so let me add that tried to analyze it in a number of different ways I think that there is that there are two mega trends that have a downside to them so globalization is obviously the big trend and it has brought a lot of people out of poverty and has been positive in a number ways the negative part about it is though that is faceless and people feel lost in and they want to establish with their identity is and that's fine I think we all what our linguistic ethnic religious identity is but if my identity hates your identity and it creates terrible problems and that's what we're seeing is an especially in Europe for instance where there had been as a result of the financial crisis economic problem so who do you blame for that and it's easy to blame the other for the financial crisis and loss of jobs the other part that I've tried to get my head around is that after World War One when the Austria Hungary Empire was defeated at the countries in Central Eastern Europe were created a lot on the basis of national identity and so then the trend after the fall of the war the end of the Cold War there was this desire to be Europeans I was doing surveys in Europe at the time and in ninety one and whether they were checks are Hungarians are polls that say they want to be Europeans so then what has happened now is been there has been a fall back to that kind of nationalism that blames the other and patriotism is one thing nationalism is very dangerous and were seen as and when it turns into hyper nationalism and then when it turns into this domestic political scene where you decide you have to blame the foreigners and you don't want the refugees and and the whole belief system is based on division rather than unification and that's what's happening you have speaking of division apparent division within the administration because you must know general madness oh I don't know if you've had a chance to spend time with the mouse secretary Tiller soon of General McMaster just became national security advisor they seem to be institutional is they seem to recognize the value of international institutions in the importance of alliances like NATO of them but Steve Madden who is sitting next to the president in the White House does espouse the views that you described of the net nationalist Xena phobic kinds of anti immigrant anti trade of who who is making foreign policy in this administration well that's the question frankly I think the president Trump he may be a great businessman I have no idea but I think he knows he would insist he would insist but I think he knows nothing about foreign policy and national security policy and what we've seen in terms of his reactions to things would show that he really doesn't get it from the national security perspective and has never been in the government I mean it's not easy to kind of come into the government and sort out how decisions are made I do teach and I teach about the fact that foreign policy is trying to get what you need for your national interest and what are the tools and how does the decision making process work or not a new country we've actually making decisions for a long time and they have this administration either has not studied had decisions have been made or don't care or are deliberately trying to undermine the process and my own sense is that I don't think President Trump is trying to undermine the process but the more than I hear about Steve and I think he is deliberately trying to undermine the process I don't know whether he is quote the great intellectual that some people are saying in that he's ideologically motivated and he's read all these books I just think that he has decided that what is important is to destroy the system and as somebody who's been in the government you haven't I have destruction isn't bad I mean sometimes a little kick but destruction is very dangerous and especially if the destruction is being done in order to put in some kind of an authoritarian state and what has been so what makes democracy what it is is the are the intermediary groups between the citizens and the government the administration civil society is people talk about independent groups that can speak that are have represent various parts of the population and there's supposed to be constant dialogue between the people and of the government and a way that people are raped in politics is actually not a bad word it is comes from this discussion is supposed to be taking place and to try to blow that up and then have some strong man to take it over to what end is for me in comprehensible but I do think that Steve and unfortunately is one of the most influential people out there and that Trump is taking too much advice from him to take a short break and be back with Secretary Madeleine Albright rocket mortgage by Quicken loans proudly supports the X Files when it comes to the big decision of choosing a mortgage lender it's important to work with someone you can trust who has your best interests in mind with rockin' mortgage you'll get a transparent online process that gives you the confidence you need to make an informed decision skip the bank skip the waiting and go completely online at Quicken loans com slash X Files equal Housing lender license in all fifty states and MLS consumer access dot org Number thirty thirty years you talk about the appeal of the strong man and at the core of of the politics of a Steve banner but we also live in a very complex times I was a revolutionary times in some ways wrought by technology and globalization has been turbocharged by technology and so what we saw on the election were in wide swaths of the country the people who feel like they've been left behind in this economy that they haven't that the deal has been rigged against them and it seems to me that's not something to be ignored and use it in Europe as well I think Rex at the Breck said vote was a reflection of that so as a as a great public think or what we have to do to account for changes in the economy that will in fact because of automation leave more more people in an unsettled position I talked about mega trend there's another one that I've talked about and it is technology which clearly has connected people in the most remarkable way and it's always good to talk about the Kenyan woman farmer who doesn't after Locke Miles to pay our bills anymore she can do it over mobile phone and all of the world there's no question that technology has been a boon for a better life for many people but it also has a downside and as you call me a great thinker I have to admit I just plagiarized this thought because I got it out in Silicon Valley and I think it summarizes a lot of what's going on people are talking to their governments on twenty first century technology the government listens to them on twentieth century technology and are providing nineteen century responses so that there's no faith in institutions and I think that in many countries including ours we kind of miss the boat in Tryon seeing what technology was doing to people and not doing enough in our educational system to get people prepared for dealing with new kinds of skills for new jobs and Han people have been left out I was out campaigning and in many ways it was very different from two thousand and eight I mean in terms of some of things that happen to people and and I think there really was a sense that there has been a group of people that have not been able to cope with the current systems but what is more troubling is the general aspect of no faith in institutions so in our system it is very important you've seen executive and legislative relations are actually the most fascinating part of our government but just the gridlock that came out of the Republican Congress when President Obama was there and the fact that Mitch McConnell just flat out said that his major goal was to make sure that President Pres Obama wouldn't have two terms then created a very bad reputation for Washington and nothing got done and so I think that's the problem is that all of a sudden people don't know where to turn because the institutions are not responding to their needs and that's what we have to look isn't the kind of a danger though that the negative lessons of the last eight years are now going to infect the next period of time this a big debate within Democratic circles is should you resist every element of what Trump doesn't rhyme bring him down even if you're smart enough not to say it um what do you think about well I think it really is an issue in tears I believe in bipartisanship frankly I got along with Jesse Helms we were able to do a lot of things together and a few minutes ago we were talking about the post World War two world a lot of it was based the institutions that we live with were based on bipartisanship Senator Vandenberg but there is debate in and in the party and and I think that we have to be somewhere between we can't resist everything I think though we need to remember who we are as Democrats what has to be done and at the same time there are certain things that we can cooperate on some we just have to say this is not American and I think Dad has something to do with the immigration issues with how to treat workers generally the health care system I mean what bothers me the most in the is that the social contract is broken what this agreement that is made in a democracy is that the people are willing to give up some of their individual rights in order to be protected by a government that has the power to create an education system or build roads or make sure that people are safe that that's what the deal is but that day but that contract has not been fulfilled and that's the thing that really bothers me I do think that and
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Ep. 126 - Madeleine Albright

The Axe Files with David Axelrod