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Debt Crisis Making Us Look Bad: Madeleine Albright

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ALBRIGHT

WASHINGTON -- The ongoing political circus over raising the debt ceiling is undermining America's position as a "moral example" for the rest of the world, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told The Huffington Post.

"It looks very strange that we can't deal with this," Albright said in an interview. "It weakens our position as a moral example to the rest of the world."

Albright, who served under President Bill Clinton as America's first female Secretary of State, is currently a professor of international relations at Georgetown and remains engaged in American diplomacy.

At a moment when Europe is struggling to find a solution to its own debt crisis -- which, in the case of Greece, has recently led to violent street protests -- Albright said, "We look pretty feckless that we can't deal with it."

Albright also took issue with the single-minded obsession with budget cuts that seems to have gripped much of Congress over the course of the debt debate, saying that as the U.S. begins troop withdrawals in Iraq and Afghanistan, and confronts a civil conflict in Libya and an uprising across the Arab world, the resources allotted to foreign diplomacy, rather than military action, are far too small.

"It's very hard to deal with all of the foreign policy problems that are out there today, really hard, and especially with the constraints that exist," she said. "The State Department budget -- in comparison to the Defense Department's -- is small, which is ludicrous. The budget of the Defense Department is more than $670 billion dollars, and State's is less than $50 billion"

Albright went on, "The budget cuts conversation affects how much money we can put into national security. Congress is arguing right now about the State Department budget, and I read recently that the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to cancel our dues to Organization of American States, which was a treaty obligation."

HuffPost recently reported that Democratic lawmakers were livid after an appropriations session in the House introduced severe limits to the State Department's budget, including suspending dues to the OAS.

"When we're talking about the fact that many of the problems we have don't have military solutions, but political and diplomatic ones, it doesn't make a lot of sense."

"There is a real debate going on about what is the role of the government in this country," Albright continued. "And I happen to believe that taxes are the price you pay for living in a civilized country."