As the Latin saying goes, De mortuis nil nisi bonum. Fair enough, and for most deceased a modest effort would probably suffice to act in the spirit of this sentiment and find something decent to say. However, in the case of the recently departed Madeleine Albright, one is genuinely hard put to find even a minimum of virtue to balance the wickedness.
For all we know she may indeed be remembered as a “loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend” in her private circle, as claimed by her family when they announced her death. But outside of that circle, one suspects that few will remember her that way.
Her passing, which occurred on precisely the day which marked the 23rd anniversary of the decision to commit one of the most infamous acts with which her name is associated, the savage and illegal bombing in 1999 of Yugoslavia, must impress everyone capable of perceiving meaning in human events as a mighty portent. Assuredly, Albright had committed in her public life other acts of malfeasance and moral turpitude which in terms of destruction and victim count may exceed the devastation which her policies inflicted on the people of Serbia and Montenegro. But ensconced in her relationship with the Serbian nation there is an important and telling detail, and it lays bare the depravity.
In the years preceding the outbreak of World War II, Madeleine Albright, known then as Jana Korbelova, and her family took refuge in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia to escape from the ethnic persecution and almost certain death in a Nazi concentration camp as Germany occupied Czechoslovakia. The Korbel refugee family were amicably welcomed and generously accommodated in the Serbian resort town of Vrnjačka Banja, where Jana attended school and reportedly learned the Serbian language. Later in life, after the war, when Jana landed in America, becoming Madeleine, and ambition for personal advancement began to direct her life, not a trace of gratitude or empathy for the people who saved her life could be detected. If on some of her “diplomatic missions” the objects of her contempt rewarded her with stones, who could really blame them? Throughout the nineties, she championed the vilification of the very people who most likely shielded her from a gruesome death in Auschwitz, slanderously denouncing them as reincarnated Nazis and hailing with glee the mayhem and destruction wrought by NATO upon them. Her intemperate calumnies speak volumes about her character.
As a public figure, Albright never gave an inkling of the noble attributes which now fill the official eulogies. Her casual remark during an interview in 1996 with Leslie Stahl of “60 Minutes”, that in her opinion sanctions laid on Iraq which cost the lives of half a million children (more than died in Hiroshima, Stahl reminded her) were “worth it,” was shocking beyond words. But that was just a “loving grandmother” in charge of superpower foreign policy sharing her most cherished values with a global audience.
Her academic output was rather thin, compared to her father’s, who had a successful career as a political science professor on his own merits and without agreeing to any moral compromises to get ahead after the family immigrated to America in the post-war period. One has the distinct impression that in order to get ahead Madeleine relied less on her scholarship and more on who she hung around with. In her rise to prominence she tended always to keep in lockstep with political heavyweights such as Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Clintons. It was a career strategy that paid off. In the topsy-turvy Beltway world, a person with her flimsy professional and moral qualifications could indeed scale unimaginable heights, as long as she toed the party line and in her diatribes publicly spouted all the right opinions. It is thus that Madeleine Albright became not just a “diplomat” representing her adopted country in the United Nations and later even Secretary of State. As allegedly “one of the world’s most respected diplomats [so goes one of establishment puff pieces dedicated to her] Dr. Madeleine K. Albright, continues to advocate for democracy and human rights across the world, while also championing the important impact international relations and educational exchanges have on the United States today,” as the fawning blurb disingenuously put it, but there is more than that. The grateful and admiring establishment, whose obsequious servant she had been, in the final stages of her career made her professor, of all things, in the practice of diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
Thus, the bogus diplomat, who in 1999 orchestrated multiple violations of international law by using her position to destroy and dismember a European country through the application of the most egregious force and violence, was put in charge of training future diplomats.
That was rather akin to appointing Dr. Mengele professor of medicine so that he could apply his accumulated professional experience to the training of future doctors.
In Orthodox teaching, for forty days after death the soul passes through a series of toll-houses where the record of sins committed during its past life is put before it by jeering demons who, of course, have it all written down. Perhaps this scenario should be modified slightly just for the passage of Madeleine Albright, nee Korbelova, so that in her descent to the netherworld she might be met at the toll-houses by the reproachful gaze of her numberless child victims, whose innocent deaths she engineered and proclaimed to be “worth it.” Naturally, the demons will still be there at the end of the journey, waiting for her arrival and for the pleasure of her company.