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Madeleine Albright on fascism and the "most undemocratic president" in U.S. history

Madeleine Albright's warning
Madeleine Albright talks fascism, "most undemocratic president" 07:15

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is warning of a looming worldwide political threat. In her new book, "Fascism: A Warning," she argues contemporary world leaders are turning to the same tactics used by fascists like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini nearly a century ago. "We should be awake to the assault on democratic values that has gathered strength in many countries abroad and that is dividing America at home," she writes.

Albright pointed to politics in countries like Hungary, Turkey, the Philippines, Poland and Venezuela.


"I think what we're doing is kind of normalizing some of this and thinking this is just a step, and what is really happening is that there are leaders that are reacting to something that is happening within societies. People are not happy. That's for sure," Albright said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning. "Some as a result of technology, and they've lost their jobs. Some as a result of immigrants coming into their countries. And these leaders are grabbing power by identifying themselves with one group, and then – with fear. And then also kind of excluding the individual rights of other people and being above the law and undermining democratic institutions."

She also addresses President Trump in her book, writing: "If we think of fascism as a wound from the past that had almost healed, putting Trump in the White House was like ripping off the bandage and picking at the scab."

"I think Trump is the most undemocratic president I have ever seen in American history. And so that's what worries me. But I do think that we all need to pay attention, which is why I'm – this is a warning. That's what the book is about," Albright said. But she made it clear that she was not calling Mr. Trump a fascist.

"I'm saying that there's certain elements of the kinds of behavior that he has that reminds me of a variety of issues that have taken place," she said.

Among them, she said: attacking the press, "which is central to having a democracy"; acting "as though he's above the law"; not respecting the rights of others; and providing "a lot of simplistic answers to questions."

As for Mr. Trump's response to the FBI raiding the offices of his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and calling it an "attack on our country," Albright said: "I find that ridiculous."

"We can't have a leader that feels that he is above the law. The law and the rule of law is the most essential part of a democratic system," she said.

During her career in public service, Albright met with controversial political figures, including former North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, father to current leader Kim Jong Un. She said the stakes in the possible denuclearization talks between the Trump administration and North Korea are "very high."

"I'm actually glad that there is some desire to have diplomatic talks. But I did go there. It took an awful lot of preparation. You don't just kind of show up. We have been trying to figure out a variety of things to do about North Korea. The former secretary of defense, Bill Perry, did a complete review, all kind of things. So what worries me is the lack of preparation and a lack of understanding of the terms," Albright said.

In regards to alleged chemical attacks by the Syrian government on its own people, Albright said "it's a war crime."

"What is needed is a strategy. We can't just do one-off bombing. I do think we need -- I personally believe that there should be some military response to what just happened. But it needs to be within an overall strategy that does, I think, require a change. Assad is killing his own people," she said, adding "there's no question" Russia is complicit. 

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