While President Barack Obama addressed the state of the nation last night, a former groundbreaking government official addressed the state of the world in Wellesley.
Former U.S. Secretary of State and world renowned alumna Madeleine Albright participated in a 90-minute discussion at Wellesley College’s Alumnae Hall yesterday entitled “Is The UN Dream Dead? International Organizations and Challenges of Change.”
The discussion was presented by the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute of Global Affairs at Wellesley College. The event marked the end of the institute’s fellowship program, which sent 40 Wellesley College students to countries all over the world for an intensive three-week course in leadership.
Albright, alongside former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, discussed the United States’ context within the global economic climate of today.
Albright began by listing axioms about what it takes to run a country in her view: How to fight terrorism without creating more terrorists, how to deal with the problem of nuclear proliferation, how to decrease the gap between the rich and the poor and how to deal with the issues of energy and environmental issues, and how to restore democracy.
“While I believe the United States is the most powerful country in the world, just listing those makes it very clear that we can’t do them alone,” she said.
Albright offered the solution of operating through “multilateral” institutions. She drew laughs when she detailed an inherent flaw in this approach.
“The problem is American people don’t like the word 'multilateralism.' It has too many syllables,” she said wryly.
The crux of her point was that the United States, and all countries, should seek to be involved in burden-sharing relationships or, simply, partnerships.
Wolfensohn later took the discussion beyond U.S. borders. He said China and India are now world powers, and United States students should begin studying abroad in these countries, abandoning the popular European choices.
“In talking to the [Albright Institute] fellows today…I was suggesting to them that the idea of studying in France or studying in Europe is now likely to be replaced with the idea of going to study in China and study in India because that’s where the future is,” he said. “From a financial point of view it’s absolutely clear it’s moving away from Europe to the countries I just described.”
Toward the end of the moderated portion of the discussion, Albright circled back to her point that the United States is an “indispensible” nation, but not necessarily one that needs to operate outside of the realm of global connectivity.
“There is nothing about the word ‘indispensible’ that says 'alone,'” she said.