Madeleine Albright and the New American Diplomacy

Thomas W. Lippman, Author Basic Books $27 (368p) ISBN 978-0-8133-9767-2
Lippman, a journalist with considerable foreign policy credentials, packs his account of Albright's life into the first of his ten chapters, then moves on to his real concerns: Albright's relations with the media and with the Clinton administration's foreign policy. This is not a hatchet job, but Lippman does not pull his punches. Secretary of State Albright comes across as deftly disguising the possibility that she might be in over her head by speaking out forcefully, as she did in advocating the use of military force in central Europe. As she has faded from the limelight as the Clinton administration's primary spokesperson on foreign policy, however, we are left wondering if there are good reasons why successful diplomats have traditionally been colorless, behind-the-scenes players rather than media stars-as Lippman claims Albright was when first appointed. The author portrays Albright as engaging in obsessive efforts to control the flow of information relating to her performance--for instance, regarding the work of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs where Albright ""conducted a virtual reign of terror to silence officials she suspected of talking to reporters""--and this image leads the author to the blunt conclusion that Albright is ""a control freak."" Lippman recognizes the unique difficulties faced by the Clinton administration in the post-Soviet era; his overview of Clinton foreign policy in the final chapter provides little reason to believe that Albright's post-WWII view of international politics as a struggle between good (the U.S.) and evil (the U.S.'s opponents) could have remained influential in a more complex world for an extended period of time. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/2000
Release date: 06/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 372 pages - 978-0-8133-4239-9
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