One of the most capable diplomats in the US Foreign Service during the 1990s was Richard Holbrooke. He quickly became a top advisor to the Clinton administration on a way to try diplomacy in the Balkans.
In 1993, when Richard Holbrooke was named ambassador to Germany, one of the first things he tried to do was fire Rosemarie Pauli, whom had been arbitrarily assigned to be his Chief of Staff. Pauli met Holbrooke at the airport upon his official arrival and urged him to give her a chance. She recalled:
To their mutual surprise, Pauli said, “we just clicked.” Years later, she described her job as, “I’m the chief of staff. I do whatever needs to be done.” When Holbrooke was looking for a location for the Peace talks, he asked Pauli to assist.
An aerial view of Wright Patterson AFB outside of Dayton (Source: Google Earth)
Wright-Patt had the ability to sequester the negotiators, so that they couldn’t grandstand to the press. (Remember, 1995 had no smartphones! Even the internet itself was pretty basic.)
The air base also had nearly-identical Visiting Officers Quarters configured around a quad, which would assure that each warring delegation had exactly equal accommodations.
Wright-Patt had recreational facilities on site — so less need to leave the talks — but also nearby shopping and dining so, on the other hand, negotiators could take short breaks.
Not-entirely-coincidentally, WPAFB had visual reminders everywhere of U.S. air power. Rosemarie Pauli lobbied strongly for Dayton as the site.
Holbrooke relied on Pauli not only to attend to details. He asked her to befriend the Balkan heads of state and their Foreign Ministers: take them for walks within the compound, and ‘casually’ bring them to where Holbrooke was dining so that some side-negotiations might happen. She asked the Balkan presidents about their children and families, to remind them what was at stake in the war.
photo contributed by Tom Rice
Pauli would continue, off and on, as Holbrooke’s chief of staff until his death in 2010.