Madeleine Albright used 'brooch diplomacy' to pin down adversaries

      America's first female Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has revealed that her "costume jewellery" worked as an unexpected diplomatic tool for her. Known as a tough bargainer who would brook no nonsense as she travelled the world, Madeleine faced down despots like Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il. She began using brooches in 1994 after the Gulf war, when the Iraqi press referred to her as "an unparalleled serpent". As American ambassador to the United Nations, she then responded by wearing a golden brooch depicting a coiled snake to her next meeting with the Iraqis. "I didn't consider the gesture a big deal. I doubted that the Iraqis even made the connection ... As the television cameras zoomed in on the brooch, I smiled and said that it was just my way of sending a message . . . ," Time Online quoted her as having written in a new book, Read My Pins. "I thought, well, this is fun. So then I went out and I bought a bunch of costume jewellery to signal what my mood of the day was," she wrote. Upon becoming President Bill Clinton's secretary of state in 1997, she started acquiring more and more of it, only to give new meaning to the term "statement jewellery". Crabs and turtles would indicate Madeleine's frustrations at the slow pace of talks in the Middle East. Madeleine placed a large wasp in a prominent position on her jacket while preparing one meeting with Yasser Arafat, and the Palestinian leader was visibly perturbed. "I wore wasps on days that I wanted to do a little stinging and deliver a tough message," she said. Just like President George Bush asked people to "Read my lips", Madeleine urged her colleagues to "Read my pins". Soon, foreign leaders like Vladimir Putin started recognising the signals, for he once told Clinton that he could tell what the mood of a meeting would be by looking at Madeleine's left lapel. Even when she met then Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to negotiate an anti-ballistics treaty, Madeleine selected a 4in interceptor missile. "The best, I think, was the Russians had actually bugged the State Department at a certain period. We discovered that there was a bug in one of our conference rooms, so the next time I met the Russians I wore this huge bug pin. So they got it," she said. She used balloons, butterflies and flower brooches to hint when she felt negotiations were going smoothly. The 72-year-old has amassed a collection of 300 brooches that have gone on display at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

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