Around the Institute

Madeleine Albright on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Unaccompanied Minors at US Border, and More

August 1, 2014

Above, watch the full conversation with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

At the 2014 Aspen Action Forum, former US Secretary of State and Aspen Institute Trustee Madeleine Albright recently sat down with Aspen Global Leadership Network Fellows from Panama, Lebanon, China, and South Africa in a wide-ranging discussion on US and international politics. Addressing the conflict in Israel and Gaza, and other pressing issues, Albright offered her insight on what’s needed to move forward on solutions, and the leaders with the most potential to offer them.

Read below for a few of the most salient quotes from the afternoon. Watch the video for more.

Sec. of State Albright on:

The Unaccompanied Minors Border Crisis

“The standard thing to say is that [the violence motivating unaccompanied minors to cross the border] is America’s fault because we basically should not be using drugs. However, I do think that Central America and Latin America bear some responsibility for this also, that their laws are not strong enough… This is a problem for the Americas, and I believe we should work on this together.”

The World’s “Game-Changers” 

“There is something going on in the world all the time… It is normal for there to be problems between countries, among countries… But there have been two things that have happened in the last six months that are game changers. One of them is the Russian annexation of Crimea and the Russian behavior, and the other is everything that is happening in the greater Middle East —in terms of ISIS, generally what’s happening in Iraq and Syria, and [Lebanon]. Now the Israeli-Palestinian issue, which is always a discrete issue of its own is part of this much larger story of competition, nationalism, and various other influences.”

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

“This issue has been with us for a very long time… President Clinton before he left office put down the parameters for what the solution is. A two-state solution where there is respect for each other and an end to conflict. It is on the table, it has been there and it requires the political will to make it happen.”

The United States’ Moral Authority

“I believe that America needs a moral foreign policy, but not a moralistic foreign policy — moralistic being telling everybody what to do all the time. … Americans don’t want to be the world’s policemen. But I do think people want to see America with a foreign policy that is value-based — i.e. respect for the role of the individual, the possibility for people to improve their lives, mobility, and sticking up for human rights.” 

Not Forgetting the Past, Lest it Repeat Itself

“History also teaches us a lot about how World War II began. … The British and French were exhausted from World War I. [They] were going to do everything they could to avoid war. And they actually said, ‘Why should we care about people in faraway places with unpronounceable names?’ And if you look at what is happening in the Middle East, we are tired from Iraq and Afghanistan, so why should we care about people from faraway places with unpronounceable names?”