From May 10-14, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai will be visiting Washington — and much of his trip has been structured by the team working for Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke in coordination with Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes.
I have confirmed that at least for the time being the scuffling between a team of National Security Adviser Jim Jones and US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry vs. Richard Holbrooke is over. “They are all pulling the same direction now,” one senior administration official shared.
During a recent trip to Afghanistan along with General David Petraeus, word has reached us that what was supposed to be a relatively brief meeting with President Karzai stretched on for several hours — and word is that Holbrooke and Karzai reinvented their relationship and not only got on extremely well, but bonded.
The looming issue for the Karzai-Obama meeting and DC visit is getting consensus on an outreach and reconciliation strategy with leading figures from the Taliban. Holbrooke figures large in this — particularly given his skill set of negotiating with some of the world’s toughest personalities, particularly the thuggish Slobodan Milosevich.
In other news, there has been some silliness about whether Richard Holbrooke was or wasn’t invited to The New Yorker bash at the ritzed up W Hotel last Friday as part of the pre-White House Correspondents Association festivities in Washington. The Washington Examiner reported that he wasn’t — but then David Remnick’s team said he was invited, but never RSVP’d.
Holbrooke reportedly told someone when he thought he wasn’t on the list, “Tell Remnick I’m crushed.”
Instead, Richard Holbrooke and wife Kati Marton spent part of their evening at a fun Dupont Circle party with Sex in the City creator Darren Star and Talking Points Memo publisher Joshua Marshall. Holbrooke told Star that he watched the very first Sex in the City episode and got hooked and was Star’s first fan when hardly anyone knew about the show in those early days.
By the way, huge shout out from this blogger to Jane Mayer — one of my two favorite anti-torture divas (Karen Greenberg of the Center on Law & Security at New York University being the other) — who did get me on The New Yorker party list, even though I had supposedly been invited and hadn’t RSVP’d either.
— Steve Clemons