Community & Government

Understanding Diplomacy

Secretary Albright shares her billiards analogy for diplomacy, Secretary Rice breaks down the mechanics of U.S. foreign policy, and both share their views on America’s role in the world.

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Topics include: America’s Role in the World


[MUSIC PLAYING] MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: People always talk about diplomacy as a game of chess. And I don't think it's a game of chess. That's where two people sit quietly and think through their moves. I do think it's more like billiards. There's a pool table, and people come up to it. Somebody has a cue, and they hit a ball. And they think they're going to get it into a pocket on the other side of the table, but along the way, it hits a lot of other balls, and it has unknown effects. In some ways, it is like international relations, where you may be taking a decision in terms of dealing with one particular country, but along the way, there are a lot of other countries that are involved and that have a role in it. One doesn't have control over all the aspects of what is happening when you are dealing specifically with one country. [MUSIC PLAYING] There are some incredible definitions of diplomacy, which is it gives you the capability to go and lie for your country. Or one of my former colleagues said it gives you the capability of talking to monsters. But the truth is it is the basic way that you talk to leaders from other countries. It is personal, in a lot of ways, because you do have to get to know the people. You have to know what is going on in the country and try to figure out how to get some kind of an agreement on things, which means that you have to, while keeping in mind the interests of your own country, put yourself into the shoes of the person and the country that you're dealing with so that you can come to some agreement. - We tend to think of our prosperity and our security within our borders. And yes, we have protective oceans on both sides, we have peaceful neighbors to the north and the south, but we've learned the hard way that actually our fate, our prosperity, our security is dependent on how well others are doing, too. And the big difference after World War II was the United States dedicated itself to the security and prosperity of others in our own interest. And I want to emphasize, not out of some sense of largesse, but in our own interest. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: We are a very powerful country, but it's very important for us to have relationships with the other parts of the world to know what's going on. And diplomacy is the tool in order to make that happen. And let me just say, the people that work at the State Department are absolutely necessary because they are the ones that, in fact, know the story, and that diplomacy actually requires all those people who have spent their life thinking about what needs to be solved. CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Now let's break down who those people are. In the United States, the president is the one who, for the most part, directs our foreign policy. The president appoints a secretary of state, who serves as the country's chief diplomat and the top foreign affairs advisor. The secretary carries out the president's foreign policy through the State Department a...

About the Instructor

Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice stood toe to toe with dictators, counseled presidents, and managed to find common ground on issues that still polarize us today. Sit down with two legendary secretaries of state as they reveal how to build bridges, hold boundaries, and apply history’s lessons to everyday challenges. The class presents an intimate portrait of the late Dr. Albright’s legacy for the next generation.

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Madeleine Albright & Condoleezza Rice

Former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice teach you to settle differences in everyday life like a diplomat.

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