Not Ready for Richard Holbrooke to Go


holbrooke on twn.jpg
Richard Holbrooke has been one of my most important touch points in Washington and has been a close friend, adviser, and in recent years — a partner in sorting through and discussing in private some of America’s biggest national security and foreign policy challenges.
He is very, very ill — in critical condition at the moment — after surgery to repair his aorta. My own father died of a ruptured aorta, and I find myself deeply distressed by the news just released.
Richard Holbrooke is not everyone’s favorite diplomat — but among those in the current Obama administration, he is mine. He is the Dem’s most successful player in securing America’s diplomatic objectives. A huge player in the global justice community, Richard is the one most tenaciously, vigorously, competently focused on achieving real results.
Richard Holbrooke can be a son of a bitch in all of the right ways — a real fighter and a brilliant policy intellectual and practitioner — and I’m hoping that he is fighting as hard as he can not to leave us. This city and America’s foreign policy team will be vastly diminished without him.
I don’t pray much — but I am praying for Richard Holbrooke right now and his wife, Kati Marton.

— Steve Clemons


12 comments on “Not Ready for Richard Holbrooke to Go

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  2. AndrewM says:

    I really like what Richard Holbrooke did regarding East Timor. His actions showed the sort of hard “headed realism” and “skillful diplomacy” that I would expect from American diplomats.


  3. Cee says:

    I’d love to see the Wikileaks re: Yugoslavia.
    Cables Reveal Background of Pro-Dictator U.S. Policy
    By Ted Rall
    December 12, 2010 “Information Clearing House” — — NEW YORK–After the Soviet collapse in 1991 U.S. policy toward Central Asia was transparently cynical: support the dictators, screw the people.
    As the U.S. stood by and watched, corrupt autocrats looted the former Soviet republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Dissidents were jailed, massacred–even boiled.
    Well, actually, the U.S. was anything but passive. They negotiated deals for oil and gas pipelines. They rented airbases after 9/11. They poured in tens of millions of American tax dollars–all of which wound up in secret bank accounts belonging to the dictators and their families. Meanwhile, average citizens lived in abject poverty.
    During trips to Central Asia the locals constantly ask me: “Why doesn’t America stop supporting [insert name of corrupt dictator here] so we can kill him and free ourselves?”
    Poor, na


  4. Bil says:

    Looks like a very good reason to dust off our old prayer list Steve. Blessings.


  5. JohnH says:

    Before Holbrooke passes, I hope he leaves a bequest to the American people–the truth about why we are in Afghanistan, what the stakes are, and why Americans should be throwing hundreds of billions of dollars into a seemingly pointless effort.
    It’s really sad that so many important diplomats have missed their final opportunity to be frank and honest. Holbrooke’s place in history would be secure if he didn’t miss his final chance…


  6. bob h says:

    I’ve always admired Holbrooke- a unique combination of chutzpah, smarts, and patriotism. I suppose the strains of a job like his helped bring this on.


  7. Helen Driscoll says:

    Steve, Both my dad and my sister came out of similar crisis — both
    fought like hell. He is a fighter — add your heart energy to his.
    I’ve always really liked him, he leads with his chin.
    He’ll learn a lot from this, when he comes out of it.
    Our thoughts are with him and his family.


  8. John Waring says:

    Our prayers go out for the Ambassador and his family.


  9. Keith Porter says:

    Amen, Steve.


  10. Barb Goetz says:

    Sending white light to you, Mr. Holbrook and his family.


  11. Don Bacon says:

    Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Representative
    for Afghanistan and Pakistan, recently said there was no exit strategy for Afghanistan but rather a transition plan. Holbrooke said Pakistan “must be part of a solution if there is going to be a solution.” He said that for the conflicts to end in both countries, both need to find “a common purpose” and work together.
    Holbrooke said “our main effort is to overcome decades of fear and overlapping of territorial claims and reach an arrangement where Islamabad and Kabul realize they have a common enemy and it needs to be dealt with.” Those enemies range from al-Qaida to Tehrik-e-Taliban to the Haqqani network, a group that has been attacking NATO forces in Afghanistan from sanctuaries in Pakistan’s tribal regions, he said.
    This kind of unreality-based pie-in-the sky hoping and wishing is killing and injuring a lot of people. The truth is quite different.


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