Originally created 06/12/06

Madeleine Albright talks foreign policy



In The Mighty and the Almighty, Madeleine Albright delivers an absorbing, well-written, informative and thoughtful look at U.S. foreign policy and the role religion plays within it.

Ms. Albright served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and in the Clinton administration became the first woman appointed secretary of state. She blends her foreign-policy experience with an academic perspective in this intelligent evaluation of how the U.S. carries out its foreign policy.

Because Ms. Albright is a Democrat who also served in both the Carter administration, it shouldn't surprise that her sharpest criticism is aimed at George W. Bush. Her criticisms seem well-founded and balanced, however, and offer a compelling alternative to the government's current foreign-policy approach. Although she echoes the criticisms many have of U.S. unilateralism in Iraq and in the war on terror, Ms. Albright manages to bring a fresh perspective on how to move forward.

In a shift from her past beliefs about the need to keep religion and politics separate, Ms. Albright offers a thought-provoking and original approach to incorporating religion into international relations.

Religious convictions, not just the materialistic or "rational" motivations espoused by realpolitik, are behind much of the politics and actions of world players today. Religion, which has played a divisive role throughout much of world history, also has the potential to unite. Three of the faiths involved in most of the political upheaval today, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, are Abrahamic and share common teachings about peace and compassion.

Much of The Mighty and the Almighty is an exploration of Christianity and Islam, and religious faith in respect to international relations today. Ms. Albright addresses the role of religion in America and America's role and image in the world.

Ms. Albright ends her book on a cautiously optimistic note. She says the stakes are too high to continue on our current path, but if America can learn rather than dictate, and concentrate on what brings us together, there is hope.