March 23 (UPI) — Madeleine Albright, first woman U.S. Secretary of State, has died of cancer, her family said in a statement. She was 84.
After serving as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, she became Secretary of State during President Bill Clinton’s second term.
Albright supported the expansion of NATO, urged the alliance to intervene in the Balkans to halt genocide and ethnic cleansing, and was the highest ranking woman in the federal government at the time.
In 2020, Albright told USA Today one of the tactics she used to assert her points in diplomatic meetings dominated by men.
“After too much of the small talk, I would say, ‘I have come a long way, so I must be frank,’ Then I really did make a point of what I needed to say,” she said. “I don’t think frankly that I was rougher, tougher or anything than any man. I just think people were surprised to hear that language from a woman.”
Albright was a refugee from Czechoslavakia who came to the United States as an 11-year old. Her family, which is Jewish, escaped the Nazis by fleeing to England after Hitler invaded Czechoslavakia.
Albright often wore a variety of symbolic pins on her suit lapels while serving as Secretary of State.
She said they were used as “gentle implements of statecraft, teaching tools and a different form of communication.”
One example of that was in 2000 during a U.S.-Russia summit in Moscow. Albright said Vladimir Putin told President Clinton that he checked to see what pin Albright was wearing in order to decipher its meaning.
Albright said Putin asked why she was wearing a three monkeys “Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil and See No Evil” pin. She replied it was because of Russia’s heavy-handed approach in Chechnya that included serious human rights violations.
Albright said Putin was furious, but looking back she said she was glad she had worn the “evil” pins.