WASHINGTON—Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, now says that China is a much bigger adversary to the United States than Russia. The statement is in contrast to the partisan rhetoric among many on the Democratic side, who have been pointing to Russia as the most urgent national security threat since it has “interfered” with the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
In a public interview with The Washington Post’s David Ignatius on Thursday, Madeleine Albright voiced her disagreement with Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy, which was published in January and listed China and Russia as the principal adversaries of the United States in the years to come.
“The new [National] Defense Strategy of the United States has now said Russia and China are our major adversaries. I think that is a gift to Putin because they are not the equivalent of China,” said Albright, “China is really a power that is evolving in a big way, penetrating various places. The Russians are not there. But I am sure Putin is very happy to read that.”
By equating Russia with China, the newly outlined U.S. defense strategy could give Putin the justification to take a more aggressive posture toward the West, Albright said.
Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy mirrored the views of the White House National Security Strategy, which was unveiled by Trump in December 2016 and laid out the case for preparing to confront the “revisionist powers” of Russia and China that are challenging the United States and its allies.
By describing China’s threat to the United States as more serious than Russia’s, Albright distanced herself from the common view among Democrats and major media outlets, many of whom since 2016 election have been relentless in portraying the narrative that Donald Trump colluded with Russia to win the presidential election of that year.
Albright’s interview was meant to introduce her book “Fascism: A Warning,” a book title that many observers see an attempt in taking a swipe at President Trump and the political movement he generated. However, Albright also appears to suggest that Trump’s political momentum and his supporters are home-grown rather than the products of foreign interference from Russia.
Albright also said that the United States still needs to be active in pushing back against Russia’s expansion in Europe. “We have to know what we believe in and try to push back what the Russians are doing to undermine all those countries,” Albright said.
Retired from public service since 2001, the former top U.S. diplomat under Bill Clinton is the chair to her own Albright Stonebridge Group, a “global strategy and business advisory firm” that has been noted for providing consulting services to the United States and international companies seeking to do business in the People’s Republic of China.