Michael Hirsh

Stories by Michael Hirsh

  • Upstaged

    They are two leaders on their last legs. One is the most powerful man on earth, the foremost champion of globalization and an indefatigable optimist. The other is the aging head of an insignificant island nation, the avatar of a musty, closed economic system and a notoriously long-winded ranter. But on Wednesday, in a vivid illustration of the leveling logic of the United Nations, it was Fidel Castro, not Bill Clinton, who won the hearts of the General Assembly at the United Nations Millennium Summit.Clinton, in one of his last big foreign speeches before he leaves office in January, spoke somberly of the need for better UN intervention. After his five-minute address, the president won only tepid applause, and seemed to trudged off the stage reluctantly, as if expecting something closer to the remarkable standing ovation he received at the UN two years ago at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. His spokesman, Joe Lockhart, was quick to say that the president hadn't expected...
  • The Lioness In Winter

    It wasn't long ago that Madeleine Albright was known as "Madame War." No one meant this as a compliment. Stern and hawk-faced, her signature Stetson pulled low over her eyes, the secretary of State seemed to be the militant in Bill Clinton's cabinet. She was the one who prodded NATO into battle for the first time in 50 years in Kosovo, ousted a U.N. secretary-general for his reluctance to bend to U.S. demands and lectured countries left and right over their behavior. The United States, Albright loved to say, is "the indispensable nation." And while her counterparts around the world recognized that was no doubt true, they didn't particularly want their noses rubbed in it. Within Washington circles, meanwhile, she was roundly derided as a single-minded policy lightweight, obsessively focused on bringing American power to bear on every situation, whether in Kosovo or Iraq.Witness, then, the "new" Madeleine Albright: humble, subtle and, to a surprising degree, effective. And that's some...
  • Legacy Of An Arab Survivor

    Hafez assad was never very good at war. Though he built up a huge army, Assad lost the Golan Heights to Israel in 1967 as Syria's Defense minister and failed to win them back in 1973 as the nation's leader. He later saw his entire air force wiped out over Lebanon. Assad was no great shakes at peace, either. From the '70s on he found himself outflanked as his old partner, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, made a separate deal with Israel that left him stranded, and his hated rival, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, paced past him in peace talks. What Assad was very good at was survival. During his 30 years at the top, while his Soviet allies collapsed, Sadat was assassinated and Israeli prime ministers came and went, Assad cunningly managed to consolidate control in Damascus while he waited to get the Golan back. And in doing so he became the key holdout in the protracted Mideast peace process.This year it seemed that, finally, Hafez Assad's time had come. As the clock ticked over into...
  • The Long March Begins

    For Bill Clinton at least, the hard part is over. As his staff gathered in the place where their boss once strayed with Monica Lewinsky--George Stephanopoulos's old West Wing office--to watch on C-Span, the president known for lurching from disaster to triumph waited upstairs in the residence for one of his greatest victories to unfold. Finally, the hard-fought House vote to grant China permanent normal trade relations went over the top, ending at a decisive 237-197. Clinton came down with a big smile. "This is just great!" he exclaimed. Later, in a congratulatory call to his ace trade negotiator, Charlene Barshefsky, he reminisced over the 13-year U.S. effort to bring China into the World Trade Organization, a drive that culminated in last week's PNTR vote. "This is historic," he told her. For him, clearly, it is. Clinton knows that while histories of his administration may well begin with impeachment, his WTO feat will help to balance the ledger.But by January 2001, when Clinton...
  • Giving Them The Business

    Ed Whitfield wears the hunted look common among certain congressmen these days. These are the undecided ones, those who haven't said how they'll vote on China. Tracked down in a Capitol Hill hearing room, the Kentucky Republican is surrounded by several large, well-fed men representing billions in blue-chip market cap: Procter & Gamble, Caterpillar, Bank of America. All want the same thing: a "yes" vote on a bill to grant permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to Beijing. Whitfield looks peevish, weary. "It's frustrating," he tells them, "that business leaders have not done a very effective job of talking to employees." Translation: labor unions, which fear that opening up China will cost U.S. jobs, are threatening to trash him in the fall election if he approves PNTR. "I'll probably end up voting for this law," says the congressman, who comes from a Democratic coal-mining district. "But it's going to be damaging."This little tableau, enacted dozens of times last week with...
  • The Rise Of The 'Rego-Cops'

    Washington to U.N. peacekeepers: don't call us, we'll call you. After Sierra Leone, no one wants to send the United Nations into a war zone alone any time soon. The debacle of the last few weeks was a horrifying capstone to a series of post-cold-war U.N. peacekeeping disasters dating back to Bosnia in 1993. None of these, of course, was entirely the United Nations' fault. The world body has few resources and no mandate to form its own combat force for taking on the Foday Sankohs of the world. It's unlikely to get one, either. U.N. Security Council members, especially the United States, don't want to beef up the United Nations because they fear it might infringe on their sovereignty (remember the "black helicopters"?). Nor do they want to risk their own soldiers' lives in U.N. efforts far from home. Congress's recent moves to cut even more from an already slender foreign budget only punctuates that harsh reality.Instead, what has been emerging in recent crises--Kosovo, East Timor and...
  • How Much Does Alan Greenspan Matter?

    Alan Greenspan may be one of the few people in America who spent a satisfied weekend after the big selloff. In recent months the Federal Reserve chairman has been playing a game of chicken with the markets--especially the once defiant Nasdaq. Greenspan repeatedly warned of feverish stock overvaluation, an on-and-off worry since his famous warning against "irrational exuberance" back in 1996. To cool the economy down he had raised interest rates five times since June 1999. But while the older industries of the Dow got hurt, the soaring tech sector seemed to defy the laws of economic gravity. And the much-lionized Fed chief seemed like a man who couldn't move markets anymore. "Alan Greenspan," sniffed a New York Times columnist on March 16, "is no longer taken as seriously on Wall Street."For the moment, Big Al may have regained some oomph on the Street. But with the air going out of the tech-stock bubble, many market observers wonder whether he will be able to contain the selloff if...
  • Working The World

    Bill Clinton has just nine months left--not much time to put a lasting gloss on his tumultuous presidency. So it's no surprise, perhaps, that the president's efforts at legacy-building abroad have reached a frenzied pitch. In South Asia last week, Clinton thrust himself into the middle of yet another seemingly intractable conflict, seeking to mediate (even while insisting he was not) between India and Pakistan over the disputed province of Kashmir. At the same time, as Air Force One--its secure phones and faxes buzzing--city-hopped through the Indian Subcontinent, the administration sought to quell a possible eruption between China and Taiwan. And en route to Washington on Sunday, Clinton stopped in Geneva, where he tried to make Mideast peace on the wing with Syrian President Hafez Assad. Clinton, says spokesman Joe Lockhart, "wants to make every day count."This isn't just the work of a lame duck in denial. Most presidents seek refuge from late-term doldrums by traveling the world...
  • Left On The Launch Pad

    It takes a leap of imagination to think of Canada, that innocuous land of Joni Mitchell, Molson beer and occasional cold fronts, as a national-security threat. Unless, of course, you are the U.S. State Department, and the issue is satellite sales. That's what Mark Bitterman learned late last year when his Dulles, Va.-based company, Orbital Sciences, lost an $80 million contract to build part of a radar satellite for the Canadian government. Though Ottawa just wanted to monitor the movement of ice floes--not troops--the part was considered sensitive military equipment. And State, saddled with huge new export-licensing responsibilities for high-tech goods, dithered over the licensing for a year, says Bitterman, a senior VP. Under U.S. law, Orbital's engineers couldn't even talk details with their own subsidiary handling the deal across the border. Finally the Canadians gave up and delivered the contract to an Italian firm. "Our reaction," says Bitterman, "was disbelief."When Congress...
  • Ubiquity And Its Burdens

    Cornelis Herkstroter remembers when the world, quite suddenly, caught up with Shell Oil. For a hundred years Royal Dutch/Shell had prided itself on being one of the first real multinationals. And it acted like one. It was monarchical in manner and arrogant as hell, paying scant notice to locals as it marched in and out of the countries where Shell's legions of drillers, refiners and traders planted the company flag. But in the '90s the noise of protest outside Shell's boardroom in The Hague, once as faint as distant sirens below, grew into a roar that rattled the company's foundations. In Europe, youths who were angered by Shell's decision to junk an oil platform in the North Sea forget the environmental damage began boycotting and burning its service stations. Newspaper editorialists howled in 1995 when Shell only mildly protested as the corrupt government of Nigeria which got about half of its revenues from Shell hanged writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and other activists who had protested...
  • A Tale Of Two Cities: Washington

    It was a decidedly odd way for Bill Clinton to hear the news. At about 8 a.m. on Nov. 15, the president was stepping into the shower in his hotel bathroom in Ankara, Turkey, where he was preparing for a summit of European leaders. A whole continent away, in Beijing, his China negotiators, Charlene Barshefsky and Gene Sperling, were huddling in another bathroom--the women's room on the first floor of the Chinese Trade Ministry. It was the only private place they could find to make a cellular-phone call. Just hours before, they had told Clinton that the news looked grim; there was little chance of a deal on China's entry into the World Trade Organization. The president had gone to bed somewhat downcast; a defeat would have been a personal slap in the face. He had recently pleaded with Chinese President Jiang Zemin to restart WTO talks after allowing a deal to slip away during Prime Minister Zhu Rongji's visit in April. But now, through the hiss of water in his shower, Clinton heard...
  • Banking On A New Order

    It's the biggest piece of banking legislation since the Great Depression. It's been in the making for 20 years--for so long, the joke on Washington's K Street goes, that numerous lobbyists have put their kids through college on the fees they've earned fighting over the bill. And now that the repeal of the 1933 Glass-Steagall law is finally all but here, after an agreement last week between the Clinton administration and GOP lawmakers, trillions of dollars in consumers' savings and investment will be up for grabs.But most of the changes only bring regulations in line with the realities of the corporate financial world, which hasn't been waiting for Washington to act. The agreement will put an end to a long-outdated ban on stock speculation by banks and other "crossover" businesses that stemmed from the Crash of 1929. The new law will allow banks, securities firms and insurance firms to jump with both feet into each other's businesses. Yet for a decade now, America's biggest financial...
  • The Gangster State

    It began as a spore of suspicion --a tip that British investigators picked up in some boxes of corporate documents last summer. That led them to Canada, and then, along with the FBI, to several accounts at a respectable, midsize New York bank. Nothing very startling--until authorities realized that billions and billions of dollars were getting "laundered" through the Bank of New York accounts, apparently shunted through a maze of companies traced to Russia. Today the case has become a scandal that threatens to unravel the whole threadbare structure of relations between Russia and the West.The facts of the case, first reported by The New York Times on Aug. 19, remain murky. A senior FBI official familiar with the investigation cautioned it is still at an early stage, and along with other officials he expressed concern the story may have been prematurely overblown by some media. "All we know is that lots of money was going in and out of these accounts. Whether it's nefarious or not we...
  • Holbrooke's Ultimatum: Perform Or Perish

    After 14 months of purgatory, Richard Holbrooke isn't wasting any more time. First his nomination as U.N. ambassador was stalled in an ethics inquiry by his own administration; then it was held hostage by GOP senators seeking deals. Now, at last, the blunt diplomat known as "the bulldozer" is to be sworn in on Wednesday. Two days later, Holbrooke heads off to the Balkans, where he was last seen handing a final ultimatum to his old adversary, Slobodan Milosevic, before the war in Kosovo began last March. Holbrooke will carry a do-or-die message this time as well--but one directed at his own troops, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. "The U.N.'s future in international crises is going to be determined in very large part by what it achieves in Kosovo," Holbrooke told NEWSWEEK. A senior U.S. official renders a harsher verdict: "If they fail here, no one's ever going to give the U.N. an important job again."It's becoming a familiar story. The United States, the nation that lovingly...
  • Three Alarms For Uncle Sam

    Bill Clinton really didn't want to get involved, not in another Asian hot spot, not over another disputed province, Kashmir. But when Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif flew to Washington last month to plead for U.S. help, the president decided that relations between the world's two newest nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, were so edgy they needed closer attention. His concern grew last week, when Indian MiG-21s shot down a Pakistani plane, killing 16. Though U.S. officials deny they are "mediating"--India refuses to consider Kashmir an international issue--Clinton plans to visit South Asia early next year to take what he calls a "personal interest" in resolving the tensions. Sharif got his wish--and his man.Like it or not, America is being cast as the world's globocop, especially since its mighty display of air power in Yugoslavia. But those who imagine that the U.S. emerged from Kosovo as the unquestioned enforcer of world peace haven't been watching Asia. Simultaneous crises...
  • Uncle Who?

    Bob Manning, a longtime Asia hand in Washington, noticed the difference immediately. There was a tougher mind-set, a harder undertone in the voices of Japanese Diet members and intellectuals who once deferred obsequiously to U.S. defense strategies. When he was in Tokyo earlier this summer, Manning says, the Japanese questioned America's armed commitment to Asia in ways he had never heard before. They even asked whether the 100,000 U.S. troops in Asia--the core of America's role as regional stabilizer and peacekeeper--"were really just 100,000 hostages" to Chinese or North Korean aggression.Hostages? So much for America as globocop. Those who imagine that Washington emerged from Kosovo as the enforcer of world peace haven't been watching Asia. Crises are brewing in Taiwan, the Koreas and South Asia, and U.S. mediators are finding the tensions more intractable than ever. Despite plying Pyongyang with offers of food and civilian nuclear assistance, U.S. officials have all but given up...
  • The Road To Peace

    They began gathering early Friday evening, as the sun set on a sweltering day in the green canyons of Macedonia. Hundreds of Kosovar Albanian men, many of them shirtless, and skinny from 10 weeks at Stankovic refugee camp, lined up expectantly at the side of the road into Kosovo, twirling their T shirts over their heads and wildly cheering giant British Challenger tanks that roared by in clouds of diesel exhaust and dust. The British, slated to be the first wave of foreign peacekeepers in Kosovo, stopped at the border and waited for the go-ahead from KFOR (Kosovo Force) commander Lt. Gen. Mike Jackson. After 78 days of ever more relentless bombing, and much hand-wringing over a war no one wanted and virtually everyone questioned, NATO was ready to begin its victorious occupation of the devastated province.And then the Russians stole the show. In a stunning blow to the alliance's carefully calibrated diplomacy--and to its celebratory mood--200 Russian troops drove into Pristina...
  • The Hunt For Scapegoats

    It's a ritual as old as scandal itself: if charges of wrongdoing threaten the chief, some poor scapegoat is sent packing into the political wilderness. And if it's a scandal as big as Chinese nuclear espionage, just one goat may not be enough. In recent days Republicans on Capitol Hill, figuring they've got Bill Clinton on the run, have called for the resignations of two of the administration's top officials: national-security adviser Sandy Berger and Attorney General Janet Reno. ...
  • The General Takes Charge

    "I'm pretty good when the battle begins," Ehud Barak told Bob Shrum, his newly hired American ad man, a few days into his campaign. The ex-general running for prime minister of Israel quickly proved it. Some pundits called Barak's stunning landslide victory over incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu last week a tribute to his aggressive U.S.-style election tactics. Others pointed to a backlash against Netanyahu's dark, Nixonian personality. But for many Israelis the triumph was mainly about Barak himself, the tough little Sabra with the chest full of medals and the 180 IQ whose campaign changed the face of Israeli politics. "This victory belongs to all of Israel," Barak told a roaring crowd of 300,000 in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square--many of whom saw him as heir to the martyred Yitzhak Rabin. Blunt and defiant as always, he added: "I will be the prime minister of those who voted against me as well."Israelis are a skeptical lot--hardly easy touches for bring-us-together rhetoric on election night....
  • Grooming Mr. Summers

    Larry Summers, once upon a time, never could have gone all the way to the top. That was the view of official Washington. He was too scruffy, too insensitive and just too damn brilliant, arrogantly treating important congressmen like the hapless foils he once trampled as a national debate champion. Summers's shirttails were always hanging out. And the plump former Harvard professor (who at 28 was the youngest ever to get tenure) was so absent-minded that, an associate remembers, "he had a habit of not looking in the mirror after he shaved. There were always patches." Summers seemed, all in all, better suited to a wonk's cubicle in a basement somewhere than the world stage. "Four years ago, if you had said Larry Summers would be Treasury secretary after Bob Rubin," says a senior administration official who knows him well, "people would have laughed in your face." Except on Wall Street, where the response to an ivory tower type like Summers would have been more direct: Sell!Behold,...
  • In China, Fury And Fallout

    The bombs fell in belgrade, but the fallout spread all the way to Beijing. In the Chinese capital, thousands of protesters turned out Saturday, chanting "Down with American imperialists" and "NATO Nazis." Roving gangs pelted U.S. Embassy buildings with rocks and smashed several diplomatic vehicles. Hours later, protesters in the southwestern city of Chengdu escalated the attack, severely burning the residence of the U.S. consul. An embassy spokesman complained that U.S. officials were "under siege," and that Beijing was offering inadequate protection. The outburst over NATO's accidental strike on the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade may have been partly orchestrated, but the outrage wasn't. U.S.-China relations were already at a low point over U.S. allegations of nuclear espionage, trade tensions, human rights and Beijing's opposition to the Kosovo campaign. And the bomb hit couldn't have come at a worse time for NATO: with Russia moving toward agreement on an alliance peace deal for...
  • War On Many Fronts

    In Vietnam the reporters had a name for the military's daily briefings: the Five O'Clock Follies. There was the war the generals said they were fighting, complete with impressive body counts. Then there was the real war, which was an utter quagmire. It took several years before the American public understood the difference. Just five weeks into the Kosovo campaign, critics of NATO's strategy have begun to wonder if a similar credibility gap is opening up.Granted, NATO has a lot to spin these days. But as another week passed without a military or diplomatic breakthrough, the disconnect between what NATO briefers say and the reality on the ground grew wider. Alliance spokesmen insist Serb forces are being "degraded," but reporters have begun to snooze during the daily videos of smart bombs blasting targets--most of them long-deserted buildings.While the air war was again stepped up last week--raids on Belgrade were the heaviest so far--bombers were said to have destroyed fewer than 50...
  • A Magical Lobbying Tour

    He came. He saw. He lobbied. And by the time Zhu Rongji returned to Beijing last week, he had won over America's business community, cajoled an embarrassed White House into committing to a trade deal--and, just perhaps, brought U.S.-China relations back from the abyss. The puckish Chinese prime minister's performance was reminiscent of the early days of Gorbymania, when the then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev charmed Americans. The self-deprecating Zhu--who joked that God frowned on him because it rained during his visit to Los Angeles-- had a similar agenda: to show a China-phobic U.S. public that Mao jackets are out, markets are in and vague charges of spying don't really matter.Zhu, in fact, politically one-upped the master himself, Bill Clinton. Seeking to gain entry for Beijing into the World Trade Organization, Zhu brought along stunning concessions on market- access issues that have bogged down U.S.-China negotiators for years. He agreed to slash agricultural tariffs, grant...
  • Casualties Of War

    From three miles up an F-16 pilot can't see much--just a tiny tableau below, a postage stamp of destruction. That's what one NATO flier encountered as he broke through the clouds at 500 miles per hour last Wednesday. He saw villages in flames, a long dirt road filled with vehicles. Some might have been trucks in Serb Army green, and some might have been tractors trundling refugees to the border. As with everything in this war, confusion reigned. The roads north and south of Djakovica in western Kosovo were at the epicenter of ethnic cleansing . For three weeks Serbian police and Army troops had methodically set villages ablaze, rousting Kosovars with brutal efficiency. In a gripping yet emotionless account on tape, the unidentified NATO pilot, an American, later told the world of his decision to help stop the horror . He spotted a Serb convoy, he said, and made several passes over it, finally concluding "these are the people responsible for burning down the villages that I have seen...
  • Lobby And Win 1-2-3

    He came. He saw. He lobbied. And by the time Zhu Rongji returned to Beijing last week, he had won over America's business community, cajoled an embarrassed White House into committing to a trade deal--and, just perhaps, brought U.S.-China relations back from the abyss. The puckish Chinese prime minister's performance was reminiscent of the early days of Gorbymania, when the then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev charmed Americans. The self-deprecating Zhu--who joked that God frowned on him because it rained during his visit to Los Angeles-- had a similar agenda: to show a China-phobic U.S. public that Mao jackets are out, markets are in and vague charges of spying don't really matter.Zhu, in fact, politically one-upped the master himself, Bill Clinton. Seeking to gain entry for Beijing into the World Trade Organization, Zhu brought along stunning concessions on market-access issues that have bogged down U.S.-China negotiators for years. He agreed to slash agricultural tariffs, grant...
  • Albright's Old World Ways

    Two recent scenes from the life of Madeleine Korbel Albright: Independence, Mo., the home of the Truman Library, part of the iconography of the American Century. Albright--the most media-savvy secretary of State since Henry Kissinger--has fussed over every detail of this event. With a triumphant flick of her pen, she signs three former Soviet satellites into NATO, the mighty alliance created by Truman and his secretary of State, her personal hero and model, Dean Acheson. To a standing ovation, Albright holds the treaties aloft like trophies, her aquiline face beaming. She wipes away tears and in a triumphal speech yelps, "Hallelujah!" The signing is at once a coda to the cold war and the culmination of Albright's personal journey. A child of Munich (she was a toddler in Prague when Neville Chamberlain gave Czechoslovakia away to Hitler), she saw her homeland lost a second time to the communists. Now, as America's top diplomat, she has brought the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary...
  • The Next China Battle

    It was like darkness at noon on Capitol Hill, suggested one executive. He was taken to a windowless basement office. It was stuffy. There was no water. Seated in a corner, sweating, the man says, he faced a dozen interrogators and veiled threats of subpoenas if he didn't tell them what he knew about his China business. The mood, he says, "was like a criminal investigation. It was not a search for the truth. It was a search for the guilty."The accused, it should be noted, was not a spy. He was a senior executive at one of the nation's leading computer companies. The questioners were FBI agents and staffers working for Christopher Cox, a respected California Republican. Cox, like many in Congress, takes a dim view of U.S. "engagement" with China, an issue that dogged Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's visit to Beijing last week. Cox heads a special House committee looking into the transfer of sensitive technology to China. After an eight-month probe, he plans to issue a 700-page...
  • Balking In The Balkans

    Something is seriously wrong with this picture," Sen. John McCain said on Capitol Hill late last week. The scene was Rambouillet, a sleepy French village. The setting: a 14th-century chateau, where negotiations to achieve peace in the renegade Serbian province of Kosovo were going nowhere. After two days of nonstop talks, Madeleine Albright, the U.S. secretary of State, phoned Adem Demaci, an obscure ex-novelist with coke-bottle glasses who last year emerged as the political power behind the ragtag Kosovo Liberation Army. Albright asked Demaci not to block a NATO-backed agreement giving Kosovo limited autonomy. But Demaci, who had refused to attend the talks, insisted on full independence. He curtly told Albright that a phone call couldn't solve such a "bloody and serious" problem. Then he hung up. "Basically he stiffed her," says one astonished U.S. official. "Here is the greatest nation on earth pleading with some nothingballs to do something entirely in their own interest--which...
  • Balk In The Balkans

    Something is seriously wrong with this picture," Sen. John McCain said on Capitol Hill late last week. The scene was Rambouillet, a sleepy French village. The setting: a 14th-century chateau, where negotiations to achieve peace in the renegade Serbian province of Kosovo were going nowhere. After two days of nonstop talks, Madeleine Albright, the U.S. secretary of State, phoned Adem Demaci, an obscure ex-novelist with Coke-bottle glasses who last year emerged as the political power behind the ragtag Kosovo Liberation Army. Albright asked Demaci not to block a NATO-backed agreement giving Kosovo limited autonomy. But Demaci, who had refused to attend the talks, insisted on full independence. He curtly told Albright that a phone call couldn't solve such a "bloody and serious" problem. Then he hung up. "Basically he stiffed her," says one astonished U.S. official. "Here is the greatest nation on earth pleading with some nothingballs to do something entirely in their own interest--which...
  • To The Brink--And Back

    It is Slobodan Milosevic's favorite role. Every now and then the Serb dictator gets to play a Very Important Person, taunting the world with his special brand of brinkmanship. As a bonus, he often tries to make someone from Washington look silly. His specialty this year is exploiting the divisions within NATO as it prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in April. And last Saturday his No. 1 victim was U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.Albright flew to France early Saturday in a last-minute effort to forge an agreement over the renegade province of Kosovo. Prompted by the slaughter of 45 Albanians in the town of Racak last month, the talks had dragged on for two weeks. While the sides were close to a deal to grant semi- autonomy to Kosovo, Milosevic refused to even discuss a peacekeeping deployment of NATO troops in Kosovo. With only six hours remaining before a noon deadline for NATO strikes, Albright arrived at the table. As the deadline passed, the negotiations wore...
  • A Nazi-Era Bill Finally Comes Due

    WACLAW KOLODZIEJEK stands up, the smile frozen on his face, and pulls open his golf shirt. There on his chest, tattooed in bluish purple, are the numbers 2254. They are slightly askew and off-center, as if the German who injected them was in a hurry. And in August 1940, when Kolodziejek arrived at Auschwitz, the Nazis were very much in a rush. Anxious to build their extermination factory, they yanked Kolodziejek and thousands of other Poles off the streets of Warsaw as conscripted labor. Kolodziejek--a 17-year-old Catholic with movie-star looks--was on one of the first transports to Auschwitz. At the camp, he was beaten and terrorized. In 1942 Josef Mengele experimented on him, Kolodziejek says. Later he nearly starved. He laughs about it now--except when discussing Mengele, then his voice breaks--because there's nothing else he can do. ...