As the leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations prepare to meet this week in Madrid, I’m reminded of a call I received shortly after I became supreme allied commander at the alliance in 2009. It was from Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and with the directness for which he was famous, he said: “Jim, I want you to work with Madeleine Albright on our new NATO Strategic Concept. We are on a short timeline, and it must be done right. Get in touch with her and give her all your support.”
I didn’t know Albright, who had been US secretary of state from 1997 to 2001, well. But, like pretty much everyone who did, I was in awe of her energy, good humor and drive. We contacted her team and set up an introductory call, and for the next year I was privileged to be part of her team creating a long-term strategy for the alliance, the first of the 21st century.