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Article 1

‘I would have given up my career to save my marriage’

There are some remarkable revelations in Madeleine Albright’s new memoirs. Sharon Krum reports

Madeleine Half-Bright. That’s what select reporters covering the UN in the early 90s used to call Medeleine Albright behind her back. Then US ambassador to the United Nations, Albright had been dismissed by the predominantly male press corps as hardly in the league of her testosterone-charged predecessors.

“She doesn’t have the intellect to handle the nitty-gritty of foreign affairs,” I remember a reported who delighted in tossing around the Half-Bright moniker, sniping. “Women are just too emotional to do the job,” he added. When Bill Clinton appointed Albright the first female secretary of state in the history of US politics in 1997, the same critic dismissed the appointement as leftwing political correctness. “Window dressing for the Clinton administration.”

At leat former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made an attempt to polite when learned a woman was filling his old shoes. “Welcome to the fraternity,” he said to the newly minted madame secretary. “Henry, I hate to tell you, but it’s not a fraternity any more,” she shot back. Indeed it wasn’t. And yet, as Albright, 66, writes in her autobiography, Madame Secretary, despite the daily grind of high-level meetings with kings and presidents, overseeing treaties, no matter how much she operated like a man in a man’s world, she could not separate her gender from the job.

Consider a to-do list she jotted down on January 28 1998: “1) Call Senator Helms. 2) Call King Hussein. 3) Call Foreign Minister Moussa. 4) Congressional calls. 5) Prepare for China meeting. 6) Buy non-fat yogurt.”

She knows this is not a list likely to be found anywhere on Colin Powell’s desk, and can laugh about it now. But during her tenure she was infuriated by men who underestimated and belittled her just because she was a woman. Interestingly, she writes, the problem was worse at home.

“I am often asked whether I was condescended to by men as I travelled around the world to Arab countries and other places with highly traditional cultures. I replied, “No, because when I arrived somewhere, it was in a large plane with “United States of America” emblazoned on the side. Foreign officials respected that. I had more problems with some of the men in my own government.”

Mobbed once by young girls on a train from Washington to New York asking for her autograph, Albright was proud to be a role model for women, and there is little question that without her, the American public would hardly be so accepting of Condoleezza Rice.

But for all her success, politically and as a feminist, the most telling moment in Albright’s book is her questioning of whether a married woman with full domestic responsibilities could ever be the player she was on the world stage.

“When I became Secretary of State, I realised that, though others might, I would never have climbed that high had I still been married. Yet I am deeply saddened to have been divorced. I know that, at the time, I would have given up any thought of a career if it would have made Joe (who left her for another woman) change his mind.”

This is the crux of Albright’s story, a woman born to believe that the roles of “mother” and “wife” were her career, only to throw off her apron in middle age to manage Middle East negotiations, yet always divided and exhausted by the trade-off required. Not to mention frustrated by the double standards applied to her job performance.

“From my graduation day until the graduation of my last child, I had to deal with the age-old problem of balancing the demands of family with academic and professional interests,” she writes. “As I began to climb the ladder, I had to cope with the different vocabulary used to describe similar qualities in men (confident, take-charge, committed) and women (bossy, aggressive, emotional). It took years, but over time I developed enough faith in my judgement to do my job in my own way and style, worrying at least a little less about what others thought.

Albright was born in Prague in 1937. her father, Joseph Korbel, a diplomat, fled the Gestapo for England, and some of Albright’s earliest memories are of a flat in Notting Hill Gate, west London. The family returned to Czechoslovakia only to leave again as communism took root, this time for the US, where Joseph Korbel became a professor of foreign affairs at the University of Denver.

Though Albright’s grandparents were Jewish and died in the Holocast, her family hid the truth from her, and she believes now it was to spare her the pain. Learning of her family history in 1997, Albright pronounced the discovery riveting.

She attended Wellesley College and, after a whirlwind romance, married journalist Joseph Albright. She writes of feeling like Cinderella when her ambition to be married was realised. In quick succession, she had three children: premature twins, Alice and Anne, a secon daughter who probably suffered brain damage as a result of her mother contracting German measles and died at birth, and then a third daughter, Katherine.

As her girls grew up, Albright earned a doctorate in law and public policy, began raising money for Democratic political candidates, taught international relations, and eventually began working in the Carter administration for her old professor, national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.

But, she writes, this gilded life, which has been on an endless upward trajectory, fell apart in January 1982. Her husband announced he was leaving her for a younger woman, every middle-aged woman’s nightmare, the ultimate cliché. Despite her professional achievements, Albright concedes that her identity was so tightly wrapped around the twin personas of wife and mother, that she grieved for the one she lost.

Years later, after a private dinner with Hillary Clinton and the recenly widowed Queen Noor of Jordan, Albright would calculate the impact of their marriages on each woman.

“In different ways and at various times,” she writes, “ we had each been left to explore the boundaries of our own inner strength by a husband who had deceived, deserted, or died.”

Suddenly single, Albright was in a state of shock. “I had no confidence thaks to Joe’s departing comments about my looks [he told her she had become too old-looking and that his new lover was considerably younger and beautiful], and I was a prude. My last date had been in the 50s. This was the 80s. With no idea what the new rules were, I felt like a 45-year-old virgin.”

Although she found refuge working as a professor and in politics, the insinuation that her persuit of a career caused her marriage to break down always hovered.

“Did my career cause my divorce? I have always resented the question. I consider it insulting to women who want a career, and I reject the implication that I was selfish. I also resent the question because I don’t know the answer. There are many contradictions in the way I feel.”

One thing that divorce did for Albright was to free her up to conquer the world stage of foreign policy. Motivated by her family’s experience of both fascism and communism, she believed America’s role was to safeguard the world against repeat attempts at ethnic cleansing, while aiding countries making the transition to democracy. But with one caveat. “As secretary, I was determined to make efforts to improve the lives of women and girls part of mainstream US foreign policy. One of America’s core goals was the promotion of democracy, but democracy wasn’t possible if women were treated as second-class citizens and victimised discrimination or abuse.”

She singles out her greatest achievement as pushing the Clinton administration to act against the Serbian slaughter in Kosovo. Her regrets include being unable to effectively stem the violence in the Balkans, Rwanda and Somalia. Her frustration after another round of failed peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians is palpable, and provides a perspective into foreign affairs only a woman could give. “If women leaders had acted the way Arafat and Barak did during Camp David,” she writes, “they would have been dismissed as menopausal.”

Today, two years out of office, watching world affairs from the side-lines, Albright teaches at Georgetown University and owns a global consulting firm. She wrote her story, she told an American interviewer recently, to remake the image she had cultivated as a woman who had to act like a man to get the job done.

“People who only saw me in this severe, ‘Why are you pushing the US agenda’ mode will understand that I’m a real woman. I have a lot of female friends. I like to get dressed up. We all have this other side. We all like to let our hair down and not always be ‘on’.”

Ex.4.26. Find in the article above the English for the following words and phrases:

1) в состоянии шока 2) двойной стандарт 3) несмотря на каждодневную рутину встреч на высшем уровне 4) в то время 5) главные задачи (цели) 6) в начале 90-х 7) подхватить краснуху 8) переход к демократии 9) граждане второго сорта 10) головокружительный роман 11) избавить от боли 12) неожиданно оказавшись одинокой (оставшись без мужа) 13) главное направление внешней политики США 14) внутренняя сила 15) её главное достижение

Ex.4.27. Translate the following into Russian:

1) Then US ambassador to the United Nations, Albright had been dismissed by the predominantly male press corps as hardly in the league of her testosterone-charged predecessors.

2) “Window dressing for the Clinton administration.”

3) “I am often asked whether I was condescended to by men as I travelled around the world to Arab countries and other places with highly traditional cultures.”

4) Her father fled the Gestapo for England.

5) Albright earned a doctorate in law and public policy, began raising money for Democratic political candidates, taught international relations.

6) Despite her professional achievements, Albright concedes that her identity was so tightly wrapped around the twin personas of wife and mother, that she grieved for the one she lost.

7) Although she found refuge working as a professor and in politics, the insinuation that her persuit of a career caused her marriage to break down always hovered.

8) Her frustration after another round of failed peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians is palpable.

9) the newly minted madame secretary; a to-do list; to fill sb’s old shoes; a role model for sb; the crux of Albright’s story; the ultimate cliché; a private dinner.

Ex.4.28. Find in the article words and phrases which mean:

a) (derog) a person who is or claims to be easily shocked by anything rude or indecent, especially things connected with sex

b) the act or period of holding an important, especially political, position

c) to feel bitter or angry about sth insulting, offensive, etc

d) the cruel killing of many people at one time

e) [sing] (infml) the most important aspects or details of a situation, an activity, etc

f) [sing] the mass killing of Jews by the Nazis before and during World War II

g) sb (for sth/doing sth) to make sb suffer unfairly, especially because one does not like them or their opinions, etc

h) (on sb/sth) a strong impression or effect on sb/sth

i) (fml) a warning that certain factors need to be considered before sth is done, accepted, etc

j) (approv) holding the attention completely; extremely interesting

k) (between sth and sth) the balancing of various factors in order to achieve the best combination; a compromise


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