TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell says the impetus for the long-awaited move is all Albright. "There's a certain feeling in Europe that Albright didn't handle this very well," he says. "Even though it seems to have worked out, that's in spite of, and not because of, her handling of Milosevic." The same goes for the rest of the administration, and those crotchety types at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. "The Europeans think the U.S. is driven too much by domestic politics, and because of that Washington is unreliable when it comes to dealing with European problems," Dowell says. Not that the U.S. is complaining; they've been pushing Europe for years to start cleaning up its own messes.
She may not have Helen of Troy's looks, but Madeleine Albright may go down in history as the face that launched the world's next superpower: Europe. On Friday, European Union leaders -- one day after approving a blueprint for constructing a strong defense and security arm by the end of 2000 -- announced that retiring NATO chief Javier Solana will be taking Henry Kissinger's calls as the E.U.'s first-ever foreign policy czar. All of which means that the next time there's a Kosovo-style conflict on the continent, Europe doesn't plan on taking orders from the White House.