Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s death today has taken me into my archives and our May 2, 2006 Q&A about her relationship with diamond broker Maurice Tempelsman, long-time companion of Jackie Kennedy.
Coincidentally, Albright and I were among 275 women profiled by Bella Abzug and Mim Kelber in their 1987 Women’s Foreign Policy Council Directory, along with Condi Rice, who Kelber some years later confessed had been “a serious disappointment.”
My questions to Albright—who had serious blood on her hands as well—followed Albright’s The Mighty and the Almighty book talk on morality and foreign policy to an audience at New York’s Union Square Barnes & Noble.
[Note: Gerald Celente at Trends Research has just emailed reminding me of Madeleine Albright’s 60 Minutes interview:
Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.
—60 Minutes (5/12/96)]
I asked Albright about her widely rumored romantic relationship with Tempelsman during the time she served as Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, since it is thought that the Albright-Tempelsman friendship led to Tempelsman enjoying executive privileges secured through Albright.
Excerpts of Albright’s book talk below are followed by my questions and Albright’s responses. This story first ran in 2006 at Scoop.co.nz.
“Madeleine Albright: This is my first audience about this book and I’m very glad to do it right here. . . . I am not pretending to be a theologian and I haven’t turned into a religious mystic. But I really did think that given those things that are going on in the world especially after 9-11, that it was very important to explore the role that God & religion plays in American foreign policy. . . .
There are four really basic ideas I explore. One is the importance of morality in foreign policy. I do believe it is important to have a moral foreign policy.
The second idea that I look at is basically the result of being in Washington at the moment, which is a horrible place. . . . I have lived in Washington since 1968 and I have participated in many political activities. I have always loved politics. I worked on Capitol Hill. And for Senator Muskie. And then I worked in the White House for President Carter and President Clinton. And I’ve always loved politics. But now it’s a very nasty business.
And what I’ve been looking at is how to unblock our system and to look at issues that right and left can actually do together. . . .
I had a conference with a peculiar partner for me and that’s Senator Sam Brownback. We actually found a number of issues that we could agree on. For starters there are four:
–How to stop genocide
–How to stop trafficking in people
[Brownback has for years refused to address the merchandising of women in polygamy cults up and down the US Rocky Mountains.—S.M., 2006 note]
–How to help refugees
–And religious tolerance.
Osama bin Laden is a horrible evil human being and the people that follow him are really murdering innocents. He would be irrelevant if he were not raising some very important questions about peoples’ relationship with God. . . .
And what I am recommending now is that we actually have to take religion and God into consideration. That doesn’t mean that traditional diplomacy is out the window. . . . But, in fact, we have to recognize the reality that religion plays. . . .
The best part of no longer being Secretary of State is that I can now answer the questions.
Suzan Mazur: How did you view your relationship with Maurice Tempelsman during the Clinton Administration years?
Madeleine Albright: How did I? Well, I have known Maurice Tempelsman quite a long time. In fact, I saw him last night when I was at the Council on Foreign Relations.
For those of you who don’t know him, he is a very interesting businessman in New York. He has been very involved in a variety of political affairs that are part of our political discussion.
And then I’m chairman of the board of the National Democratic Institute and Maurice is a member of my board. And somebody that’s been on it a long time. Has very vast knowledge about Africa. So he’s a very good friend.
Suzan Mazur: Was it a romantic relationship?
A blushing Madeleine Albright: With me? No. He was involved with Jackie Kennedy. No romantic relationship.”
[Note: Jackie Kennedy Onassis died in 1994; Clinton and Albright left office in January 2001.]