Madeleine's War

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Later that evening, when they moved on to visit troops at Ramstein air base, Albright donned a leather bomber jacket. But while Clinton spent hours mingling and talking, Albright went off to work her cell phone. She talked to the Ukrainian Foreign Minister about Russia's evolving position, then the French and British foreign ministers about the statement she hoped to get at the G-8 meeting, and finally a conference call of key NATO ministers for an update on Rugova's release.

Most important were two calls to U.N. Secretary-General Annan. A potential problem was brewing: Annan, who had remained on the sidelines, was suggesting that he appoint a group of negotiators to deal with Belgrade. Annan had been reliable from the outset in supporting the NATO position, which Albright appreciated. But the last thing she wanted was a pod of U.N.-anointed diplomats pushing compromises. "Kofi, we don't need negotiators running all over the place," she said. They agreed to keep discussing ways in which the U.N. envoys could be helpful in working on the political and humanitarian aspects of implementing a settlement without authorizing them to broker with Belgrade in a way that could compromise NATO's positions.

On Thursday morning, Albright and her entourage broke away from the President's tour and took their own Air Force jet up to Bonn for the G-8 meeting. With a red folder marked INTEL on her lap, she conducted her regular morning staff meeting on the short flight. "Slobo's feeling the heat," she said, a twinkle in her eye, as she glanced up from a memo on how Milosevic was putting some former top military men under house arrest.

She was sardonic, sometimes amused, occasionally impatient, always crisp. "We've got to talk to Kofi again to make sure he doesn't have negotiators proliferating." But she knew how to use the initiative to her advantage. "When I see Ivanov, I'll stress the U.N. component to him." An aide takes issue with a scheduling decision. "You've given me three options," Albright says, "and I've picked the least bad one. If that's no good, give me more options."

Business done, she switched from CEO mode to professor. It's important to keep in mind Russia's complex history with Serbia, she lectured, leaning back in her seat and propping her glasses atop her head. There are long-standing cultural and religious ties, but Tito broke with Stalin and even supported the liberals in Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring of 1968. Our fight with Serbia has dangerously alienated Russians, she noted, and it would be useful to allow them to be the ones to help solve it.

As soon as she arrived at the Petersberg conference center, a castle overlooking Bonn, Albright held a private meeting with Russia's Ivanov. It was planned with three aides for each side, but they decided to do it one-on-one, without even interpreters (each understands the other's language). They wrestled over the wording he would accept in the G-8 statement, which would be Russia's first public endorsement of an international force for Kosovo. Albright proposed calling it a "military force." Ivanov replied that he would agree only to calling it a "presence."

"You have to agree to the word security," Albright said. "Igor, will you make me happy and just say yes to that?"

"Yes," he answered, with the hint of a smile, "but when will you make me happy? I keep waiting for my turn."

Ivanov took a piece of paper and sketched out the possible composition of a security arrangement, using circles to represent the role various forces would play. Albright used her pen to show how NATO had to be involved, but Ivanov didn't agree. "This isn't for the two of us to do," she finally said. "We ought to leave it to our experts to start work on this."

As she left the Ivanov meeting with half a triumph, Albright was handed a phone. Christopher Hill was at a villa outside Rome with Rugova, who wanted to speak to her. Yes, Rugova told her, he would support NATO's bombing and negotiating positions in his public statements. "I'm glad to hear that," she replied. "We've been concerned about where you stood ever since your appearance with Milosevic on TV." Albright was relieved: if he had opposed the NATO mission, it would have been a public relations fiasco. In the grand solarium of the Petersberg center, the formal meeting of the G-8 went as planned. Over fish and fruit, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Albright teamed up on Ivanov for one last attempt to push him to accept something stronger than "security presence." Albright persuaded him to accept the added adjective "effective." Cook suggested adding the phrase "including a military force" in parentheses. Ivanov wouldn't go that far. "I'm sorry," he said. "This is all I can do today."

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