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The Legacy of Zbigniew Brzezinski: Remarks by Madeleine Albright

Madeleine K. Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State

Moderated by Carla P. Freeman, Associate Research Professor of China Studies and Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins SAIS

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited the Johns Hopkins SAIS community to deliver remarks on the lifetime achievements of Zbigniew Brzezinski. Dr. Brzezinski, or "ZBig" as he was familiarly known to colleagues and students, served as the National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter and was a distinguished professor at Johns Hopkins SAIS. A visionary foreign policy intellectual, Brzezinski was remembered for his work to normalize U.S.-China relations and for his contributions to human rights and national security policies. Brzezinski’s public service and relentless championship of American global leadership earned him numerous accolades and awards, most notably the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981.

“What I valued most about Zbig was that he taught me to think deeply about the nature and purpose of American leadership, and to ask questions about how we can protect our vital interests while still being true to our basic values; about how we can use our power wisely not only for the right purposes but also to achieve the right results; about how we can win the battle of ideas against the enemies of freedom; and about how we can lead in a way that would encourage others to follow,” Albright told the audience.

Albright was the first woman to serve as the Secretary of State under the Bill Clinton administration. She studied International Relations and Russian at Johns Hopkins SAIS in 1962 and earned her MA and PhD Degree from Columbia University, where she took a course in “Comparative Communism” with Brzezinski. To Albright, he was an outstanding professor and a brilliant strategist whose sophisticated analysis of world politics greatly influenced her understanding of international relations. Albright later served on the National Security Council alongside Brzezinski, where she gained respect for him as a friend and mentor.

“In emphasizing both interests and values, Brzezinski reflected his view that American foreign policy must be shaped not solely on the basis of what we are against but also what we are for,” Albright remarked. “And for him, American interests dictated that we should be for a world in which freedom is depended on, human dignity protected, and universal values upheld.”

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