Bernard Kouchner

August 1992. A group of private citizens concerned with ethnic cleansing and refugees are sitting in a rooftop restaurant in Banja Luka, in war-torn northwestern Bosnia, after a difficult day. With almost no running water in the hotel, we look, and feel, like hell. Suddenly a circle of light appears — cameras surrounding a dazzling, impeccably dressed man who goes from table to table, dispensing energy, concern and Gallic charm.

This was my first sighting of mon cher ami, Bernard Kouchner, Europe's most important humanitarian-activist politician. Since then we have become collaborators on issues from...

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