MANILA - On the first Independence Day of the new millennium, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she handed a naturalization certificate to an overjoyed immigrant, whose plight reminded her of her remarkable journey and the importance of American involvement in world affairs.
"Can you believe I'm a refugee and I just got my naturalization certificate?" Albright recalled the man as telling her, to which she replied, "Can you believe that a refugee is secretary of state?"
The handover happened in Monticello, the Virginia estate of America's first top diplomat, Thomas Jefferson, who would later serve 2 terms as president.
Albright sums up her "American Story" using three things: the manifest of SS America when her family arrived from Czechkoslovakia on Nov. 11, 1948, her designation as top envoy signed by former president Bill Clinton, and the Medal of Freedom awarded to her by former president Barack Obama.
"If you’ve been a refugee, as we were, to end up being secretary of state, is really a remarkable story about America," Albright said in an interview with ANC's Headstart aired on Wednesday.
Albright, who was in Manila last June for the ANC Leadership Forum, said she was worried over a "lack of institutional order" as the world faced the triple threats of nuclear weapons proliferation, climate change and terrorism.
"(That) cannot be dealt with alone. It needs multilateral cooperation and that part, I think, is not very strong at the moment," she said.
Asked about the protectionist policies of US President Donald Trump, Albright said it was a "dangerous policy."
"My life story is one where the importance of American involvement is really there. It doesn’t mean America acting alone. It means America has to be engaged," she said.
"I am troubled by the concept of protectionism and America First," Albright said, referring to Trump's slogan. "What we have to do is see ourselves as a part of the global system."
Albright said she saw the world entering a third phase, after the two world wars.
America's muted role in World War I "really led" to World War II, after which, it became more involved.
"I would hope that very soon we would see the lesson that none of our countries can operate alone, that we have to operate with others to deal with the issues," she said.