The late Madeleine Albright was the first female Secretary of State. Her actions in office repeated the U.S. imperative to interfere in the affairs of other countries and resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.
Madeleine Albright’s death brought a firestorm of praise from the corporate media. The New York Times called Albright a “brilliant analyst of world affairs.” CNN advised that the West follow her foreign policy “lessons.” USA Today called Albright a “groundbreaking” Secretary of State and a “feminist icon.” Former staffers, surrogates, and beltway establishment figures provided the bulk of the obituaries which heaped praise onto Albright’s imperialist corpse.
Madeleine Albright was indeed the first woman to be appointed as U.S. Secretary of State. Albright was also a “trailblazer,” but not in the way that the foreign policy establishment would have us believe. The trails that she blazed led directly to the mass destruction of nations and peoples abroad in service of U.S. imperialism. Even mass murderer Colin Powell is known to have balked when Albright asked him, “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”
Albright was referring to Powell’s reluctance to send U.S. troops to Bosnia as the NATO-instigated crisis in Yugoslavia escalated following the fall of the Soviet Union. An infamous “Serb hater,” Albright is said to have intentionally sabotaged negotiations with Serbia in the lead up to NATO’s bombing campaign in 1999. Her dream of a dismembered Yugoslavia at the hands of the United States would eventually come true in 1999 after a decade of U.S. and NATO meddling culminated in the razing of Serbia, Yugoslavia’s largest and most socialist-oriented republic.
Thousands of civilians, including three Chinese journalists, were killed and billions worth in infrastructure destroyed by NATO bombs because of Albright’s “girl boss” approach to Yugoslavia. Albright would use the war on Yugoslavia to successfully push for NATO expansion into Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. NATO expansion is a root cause of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Albright thus has a hand in pushing the world further along the path of World War III.
NATO expansion and Yugoslavia’s dismemberment were just a few of the many aspects of Albright’s murderous foreign policy. As a star pupil of Zbigniew Brzezinski, Albright would advise successive Democratic Party administrations from Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton. She fully supported sanctions on Iraq which killed upwards of 500,000 children according to UN estimates, famously telling 60 Minutes that the price of sanctions on the Iraqi people was “worth it.” African lives were equally as worthless to Albright. During the genocide in Rwanda, Albright used her influence to stymie peace-keeping efforts and support their proxy force, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), as it slaughtered its way to power with the help of the United States.
Albright ended her life as chair of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a soft power organization funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Department of State. The NDI carries forth Brzezinski’s legacy of destabilization through public support for regime change operations once seen as the dirty work the CIA. In many ways, Albright’s work in legitimizing regime change is in keeping with intersectional imperialism. Albright’s status as a woman gives the ruling class an enhanced capacity to sanitize her foreign policy record in a similar manner that the NDI is employed to aid so-called “civil society” and “pro-democracy” forces abroad to sanitize regime change.
Albright may be dead, but intersectional imperialism is alive and well. This brand of imperialism reached a climax under the Barack Obama presidency and is spearheaded by the Democratic Party. Under intersectional imperialism, the elevation of a tiny fraction of individuals from oppressed groups into positions of power represents the pinnacle of American exceptionalism. The diversification of empire is equated with a journey toward a more “perfect union.” What makes this process “intersectional” is its emphasis on elevating those in the establishment who supposedly relate to multiple experiences of oppression.
Albright’s identity as an immigrant woman turned war hawk makes her a more than ideal example of the successes of diversity. It is the typical rags to riches story. Albright is said to have escaped from the scourge of communism for the “democratic” West and proceeded to take full advantage of all the opportunities that capitalism has to offer. Her efforts would be rewarded with tenures at the most prestigious universities and eventually the highest ranks of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. And to think, Albright was once a refugee!
Intersectional imperialism’s feel-good stories are meant to conceal the fact that one only rises to the top brass of Washington’s foreign policy establishment through dedicated service to militarist violence. Albright’s hatred of communism was a good start. But her willingness to provide diplomatic cover for the most cruel and destructive U.S. wars was an even greater asset to the empire. To break the glass ceiling in Washington, a woman must be willing to break entire nations. That is exactly what Albright enthusiastically accomplished over her long tenure as political operative and advisor to the imperialists.
Intersectional imperialism is dangerous because it creates role models specifically tasked with the job of marginalizing genuine anti-imperialist and leftist politics. The ruling class understands that the only path to unity among the oppressed classes is through a conscious struggle against racism, sexism, and all forms of oppression. Movements should want to cultivate leaders from all sections of the working class but not at the expense of political substance. Figures like Albright present a barrier to such efforts by directing energy away from class struggle and toward class snuggle or collaboration with warmongers and profiteers. Worse yet, imperialists less interested in virtue signaling to the left have been able to exploit the corruption of the Albrights and Clintons of the world to gain legitimacy among a section of the working class.
Intersectional imperialism is a byproduct of a system, and a U.S. Left, in crisis. Albright’s reputation may be temporarily resuscitated by romantic obituaries but words alone cannot change the dark landscape of imperialism. Propaganda cannot obscure the reality that U.S. imperialism has nothing left to offer humanity but endless war and austerity. At this stage of its life, imperialism is a moribund system holding on to the dictum that it’s “too big to fail.” The Left must confront its enemies within or remain a marginal force in the United States, and that means cutting the cord with any effort to remodel imperialism into a more effective evil.
Danny Haiphong’s work can be followed on Twitter @SpiritofHo and on YouTube as co-host with Margaret Kimberley of Black Agenda Report Present's: The Left Lens. You can support Danny on Patreon by clicking this link. He is co-author of the book “American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People's History of Fake News- From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror.” You can contact him at [email protected].