Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright weighed in on the current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson’s announcement that he will be skipping the first NATO foreign ministers meeting since he was sworn into office.
Albright said that it is a “most unfortunate signal” to the NATO nation members. “I think it’s a most unfortunate signal. I would blame it on schedulers. I do think that is part of the problem. He will have met with a lot of ministers in other venues, but given the discussion that’s going on about NATO, I think it’s an unfortunate scheduling problem,” the former Secretary of State said to the House Armed Services Committee.
Her testimony involved America’s role in the world. Testifying alongside former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, both former administration officials spoke out strongly against President Trump’s world view.
The NATO meeting is scheduled from April 5 and 6, the first meeting since Tillerson was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Reuters reported late on Monday that Tillerson would be skipping the meeting because Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting the U.S. on April 6 and 7.
However, news of the ‘scheduling conflict’ quickly caused a stir as it was also reported that Tillerson will travel to Russia later in April. It was particularly bad timing for the administration as earlier in the day, FBI Director James Comey announced, while testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, that his agency was actively investigating any links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Trump has been under wide scrutiny both for his rhetoric for improved relations with Russia and months of praise of Vladimir Putin, and for repeatedly blasting NATO as “obsolete” and raising doubts as to whether the U.S. should defend NATO allies if they did not pay more for their defense.
Both Albright and Hadley continuously urged against the U.S. retreating from the world stage throughout the hearing.
“While it is comforting to believe that we can wall ourselves off from the ailments of the world, history teaches us that whenever problems abroad are allowed to fester and grow, sooner or later they come home to America,” she said in her opening statement.
They were equally critical of the Trump administration’s proposal to slash State Department funding by 28 percent, with Albright expressing astonishment at the fact that such deep cuts were proposed.
“I think they are so stunningly damaging to America’s position that I find it hard to believe that somebody that is in the U.S. government could even suggest them,” she said.