Former secretaries of state offer advice to US ambassador to UN

The New York Times recently reported on a conference in New York City attended by Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright, former secretaries of state, and Nikki Haley, the current U.S. ambassador to the U.N.  It was a discussion of American leadership sponsored by President Bush's presidential center.  The Times reported that during a panel discussion, the Cabinet veterans "sought to school" Haley "on the importance of the State Department budget, the threat posed by Russia, the best way to reform the United Nations and the virtues of nation building, international trade and a free press."

Ambassador Haley may need some schooling, but it should not come from the people who created the current problems facing the U.S.  The Times went on to say, "[T]hey offered an establishment tutorial on statecraft," claiming that the current administration has "disdained the very notion."  One of the more perceptive comments made by the Times writer was, "it felt like a deposed order seeking to influence the revolutionaries who toppled it."

Madeleine Albright advised Haley that "[n]ation building is not a four-letter word."  She did not elaborate on the many nations that were successfully built during her tenure in the Clinton administration.  Albright is also famous for telling reporter Lesley Stahl in response to a question about sanctions causing the death of half a million children, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it."  Albright also stated, "I think also that we have to be very protective of our press."  This was a veiled criticism of the Trump administration's battle with the press.  Perhaps the best way to protect the press is to point out where it is distorting the truth in the hope that it will be more accurate.

Albright also offered advice on how to deal with the United Nations.  Funding for the international body is in jeopardy because of its frequently bizarre decisions.  The U.N.'s World Health Organization recently had to back down on its decision to appoint President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe as a "goodwill ambassador."  Condoleezza Rice stressed international cooperation and mentioned the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from UNESCO, the U.N.'s cultural organization.  Rice was President Bush's national security adviser in 2002 when the United States rejoined UNESCO.

The Times claims that the discussion was overshadowed by a speech by President Bush "that sounded like a rebuke of President Trump and the forces that brought him to power."  CNN described this as "a major smackdown on Trumpism."  This was a break from tradition and contrary to Bush's own stated policy, which he described in 2009, when President Obama took office: "There's plenty of critics in the arena. I think it's time for the ex-president to tap dance off the stage and let the current president have a go at solving the world's problems."

This conference brought together Republicans and Democrats in what the Times referred to as "almost like a meeting of the exiled bipartisan order, sharing their anxiety about Mr. Trump's leadership in the world."  Rice and Albright encouraged Haley to resist President Trump's proposal to slash the State Department budget.  Rice noted that "fighting AIDS, supporting women's groups and financing election monitoring go a long way toward advancing American interests."  She did not mention the State Department's LGBT ambassador program, which has not been popular on the African continent.  She did not mention the $5-million order for custom crystal wine glasses from a Democratic campaign donor.  Some hand-blown crystal retails for up to $85 per wine glass.  The State Department also spent $4.5 million for embassy art when it had no money for Benghazi security.

An attack on the Trump administration would not be complete without a mention of the claim that Russia put Trump in the White House.  Rice, described as "a longtime Russia scholar," said the intervention was "highly sophisticated."  Being a longtime Russian scholar, she must know.  In an election that cost approximately $6.6 billion, the Russians spent approximately $100,000 on Facebook ads.  If that swung an election, it was truly highly sophisticated.  She could not be referring to the soon to be completely discredited "dossier."  The truth about this "dossier" will prove to be a major embarrassment to many people and will further diminish the credibility of the press.

John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy (Algora Publishing).  He has a master of arts degree in international relations from St. Mary's University.  He is retired from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

If you experience technical problems, please write to