THE GROUND OPTION
FRIDAY, APRIL 23, was the big day—NATO's fiftieth anniversary summit in Washington. As I began work early that morning, I learned about the stormy discussion on ground troops between the President Clinton and Prime Minister Blair, the result of which was that there would be no discussions of the ground option at the summit. However, Javier Solana had issued a press statement authorizing NATO to do an "assessment" of its ground intervention plans. It wasn't what I had hoped for, but then it wasn't yet May I, my deadline, either. And "assessment" was one of those words that could mean anything from a one-sentence appraisal to a complete new plan.
Secretary Cohen gave me final guidance at breakfast at 6:30 A.M. in his office. I expected Hugh Shelton to join us but he didn't. As I reviewed the status of our efforts and gave a brief synopsis of the Allied Force briefing I would give to the heads of state in a few hours, I made sure that the Secretary understood my views on the ground operation. I was pressing for beginning preparations by May I because there were many nations that would need a long time to be ready; I wasn't pressing to commit to a ground operation, I said, because I didn't have a workable plan at this point, and I knew we