Women in the World

03.08.12

Albright Urges White House to ‘Act Soon’ on Syria

The former U.S. secretary of state said the administration is searching for the right way to stop the carnage.
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Former U.S. Sec. of State Madeleine Albright said on Thursday that she hopes the White House “would act soon” to help forge “an alliance structure” and “an international commitment” to help stop the bloodshed taking place in Syria, where more than 7,500 people have reportedly been killed in the uprising that began last year.

“It’s a very difficult decision,” Albright said. “People are being slaughtered in the cities, and what’s happening now is that [the White House] is trying to find the right mechanism” to act.

Albright, who spoke to CBS’s Charlie Rose at Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s Women in the World Summit in New York City, did not specify a specific course of action that the U.S. should take. Instead, she stressed that the White House and the international community need to find a way to avoid a possible civil war and "to make sure the killing stops."

Albright’s comments came as President Obama has reportedly asked his advisors for preliminary military options in response to the year-long violence in Syria, and as leading Pentagon officials have reportedly said that diplomatic and economic pressure remain the best way to protect the Syrian people from their government.

The former secretary of state, 74—who’s new book, Prague Winter, comes out in April—has no shortage of experience with bloodshed and civil war. The daughter of a Czechoslovakian diplomat, Albright spent World War II in England as her father smuggled her out of the country after the German invasion. Later she returned before fleeing once again as the communists took power.

“I was very lucky,” she said. “[But] I understand...what it’s like to have to leave your people...and to not have power over your life.”

witw-madeleine-albright
Marc Bryan-Brown

Indeed, it was only after she became the first female U.S. secretary of state that Albright said she learned of her Jewish heritage and how some of her family members had perished during the Holocaust. It was this visceral, personal experience, she said, that led her to fight for the independence of Kosovo during the late 1990s.

“That is something that I’m very proud of,” she said. “Kosovo would not exist if it were not for the Clinton administration.”