The Baghdad Bandwagon

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BAGHDAD: Seasoned thespians they aren't. But when it comes to putting on an international song-and-dance in the midst of crisis, no one has better timing than Saddam Hussein and Madeleine Albright.

While Albright stormed toward London for a pre-airstrike pep rally with British foreign secretary Robin Cook and Jordan's King Hussein Friday, an amicable Tariq Aziz organized a road show at one of Saddam's sprawling palaces Friday for an unidentified number of foreign diplomats. His message: You can trust us, really.

Unfortunately for Saddam, the performance was stolen by Albright, who worked the phones to build international support for military action. Russia, China and Turkey balked at the suggestion of air strikes; France, Germany and Sweden straddled the fence. "Albright most likely won't succeed in getting some international armada behind the U.S.," says TIME diplomatic correspondent Douglas Waller, "but the U.S. will still go ahead with the military option anyway. Albright is laying the groundwork for an attack and, hopefully, reducing any adverse reaction for when an attack is actually launched." Coming soon: Madeleine plays the Persian Gulf, touring Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain.