Madeleine Albright: America’s Youth Holds the Key

[ 0 ] June 29, 2013 |

The U.S. is facing a host of diplomatic challenges at the moment, but our problems with energy and the environment are the biggest problems, because they have the longest-term effect, says former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. But terrorism, nuclear proliferation, reducing the gap between the rich and the poor, and “how to restore the good name of democracy” are also pivotal issues any president has to deal with in the near future.

But America’s youth may hold the key to bettering relations with our international friends – and foes – in the years to come.

Watch Madeleine Albright talk to genConnect at the 2013 Aspen Ideas Festival about the biggest problems facing the United States, the impact of social media on diplomacy, and the importance of America’s youth in international relations:

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Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright

Albright says the importance of getting youth involved is paramount. She mentions that young people are aware of the importance of multilateralism, or global cooperation, and technically astute enough to communicate around the world.

“Americans don’t like the world multilateralism … but basically it’s just partnering,” Albright says. “Where I think young people are even better at that is to try to figure out relationships across the board, learn languages so that you can actually communicate with people in other countries, and create bonds.”

She adds: “You all [the younger generation] are not bound by boundaries. You are technically savvy, you can communicate with anyone around the word.

“Our generation screwed a lot of things up. You guys have to unscrew it.”

Albright encapsulated the issues she thinks are of paramount importance to the U.S. internationally in her book Memo to the President Elect, at a time when she had no idea who the next president would be. The book predated the 2008 financial crisis.

When she gave a copy to President Obama, she said, “I inscribed it with the audacity to hope this book would be useful.”

Watch: ‘A Tremendous Set’ of Environmental Challenges

On the issue of how social media can affect diplomacy, Albright says it has been revolutionary. One just has to look at what happened with the Arab Spring to witness its effect.

“The time that was there to consider decisions has changed everything,” she says, “Now, our ambassadors have to provide information back very quickly, but often social media provides the information back even faster. And then Washington has to react to it on a 24/7 cycle, and that makes it very hard.”

She also says social media has unleashed the voices of people around the world, and it is diplomacy’s job to provide a mechanism to understand and consider what they are saying. And listening to what others are saying – even if those opinions differ from your own – is a vital tool to have in your arsenal when entering an international dialogue.

“Often, people in decision-making roles are always telling people what to do without really listening, and not just listening to people who tell you what they think you want to hear,” Albright said.”But, in fact, to listen to a lot of diverse voices.”

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Category: Aspen Ideas Festival 2013, Views on the News

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About Madeleine Albright: Madeleine K. Albright is Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm, and Chair of Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm focused on emerging markets. She was the 64th Secretary of State [...]
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