Albright Blamed for Kosovo

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Washington might need a scapegoat for its Kosovo misadventure, and right now Madeleine Albright is the leading candidate. A parade of unnamed diplomatic and military sources has skewered the secretary of state in the Washington Post as a rampant hawk who picked an ill-conceived fight with Slobodan Milosevic. Albright defended herself on CNN Wednesday night against charges that her poor judgment of Milosevic's resolve was responsible for the Kosovo campaign, saying "it was essential for us not to stand by and watch what Milosevic was planning to do."

"With the Kosovo campaign going badly, there's bound to be some finger-pointing," says TIME correspondent Douglas Waller. Albright was responsible for the strategy of bombing Milosevic into signing the Rambouillet peace accord, which critics now say left Milosevic no plausible means of backing down without appearing domestically to have surrendered the Serbs' crown jewels. She may well be the Cabinet's resident hawk, but to hold Albright personally responsible is disingenuous. "The responsibility is shared by the National Security Adviser, the Joint Chiefs and the CIA," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "But ultimately, the buck stops with the President. The impeachment scandal distracted the White House at a critical moment in the buildup of this crisis. Then the President's domestic political concerns led him to minimize the risk of going to war by declaring at the outset that ground troops weren't an option. That may have made it unwinnable." Madeleine Albright certainly had a hand in shaping the problem, but so, it would seem, did Monica Lewinsky.