NPR’s All Things Considered on Richard Holbrooke


From the transcript:

Mr. HOLBROOKE: On every page of the many complicated documents and annexes initialed here today lie challenges to both sides to set aside their enmities, their differences, which are still are raw and open wounds. They must work together.
NORTHAM: Steve Clemons, with the New America Foundation, says it took Holbrooke’s strong nature to work on the Bosnia negotiations. Clemons, who knew Holbrooke for about 15 years, says he was very ambitious and would bulldoze his way to results.
Mr. STEVE CLEMONS (New America Foundation): I think Richard was a highly talented, skillful diplomat who was used to dealing with tough neighborhoods and tough personalities, monstrous people. And he was tenaciously committed to results. He would focus on the those results and he would do nearly anything to achieve those results.
NORTHAM: Clemons says history will be kind to Holbrooke over the Dayton Accords, but maybe not on his last position as U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Clemons says he thinks the history books there will be mixed. He says Holbrooke made some strides trying to build up civil society in Afghanistan but hit many brick walls and clashed with many of the key players.
Mr. CLEMONS: Of all the things that he might’ve been given by the Obama administration, they gave him just about the very worst portfolio. I think that had he continued to be with us, I think that he would have found a way to at least force his portfolio into a win.
NORTHAM: Clemons says Holbrooke was trying to be innovative in his role as special representative, and he opened up the possibility of negotiating with the Taliban as a way of ending the conflict in Afghanistan. But he understood the dynamics were much more difficult there, as he indicated last month during an interview with NPR’s MORNING EDITION.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, I’ve thought about that a lot. Each negotiation has its own dynamic and this one is unique. It’s not going to end at a place like Dayton, Ohio, where you get all the combatants behind a high barbed wire fence and don’t let them out until you have agreement.
NORTHAM: Holbrooke is survived by his wife, Kati Marton, and two sons.

Just to further comment, I don’t like the word “bulldozer” to describe Richard Holbrooke. He was not all about force. He could be softer than soft if that is what securing the goal required. He was a brilliant chameleon and could show restraint as much as aggressiveness.
This is a feature of Richard Holbrooke that many are missing.
— Steve Clemons


8 comments on “NPR’s All Things Considered on Richard Holbrooke

  1. samuelburke says:

    Time and History judge through a different prism than friends
    and family.
    “As the panegyrics to Richard Holbrooke spread over the internet
    like a thickening fog, the real legacy of this State Department
    apparatchik came across the news wires a few hours after his


  2. Joe M. says:

    Mr. Clemons,
    I recognize that you were personal friends with Mr. Holbrooke, and that your views on his policy ideas are likely to be clouded by that. But, there are many people who believe the world is a better place without him and his dogmatic Americanism. This man caused a lot of damage by leveraging American power against the weak and in the interests of the strong. You say that he could be soft or hard, but you forget to say that his goals were always American world domination.
    You might argue that that is the goal of an American foreign policy maven, but I disagree. In fact, it is exactly this narrow minded focus that causes the USA to continue to be “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” That makes the USA a bully, an exploiter, an empire. Holbrooke personified these things, and that is why he should not be missed. The world is a better place without him.
    That said, i am not unsympathetic to those who knew him personally. yet, i differentiate his personal and political lives. Personally he might have been a nice man, politically he was a monster. and good riddens.


  3. drew says:

    I don’t have an opinion about Holbrooke or his accomplishments.
    I do believe you will see your friend again. Your anguish is not
    without reward or eventual understanding.


  4. Barb Goetz says:

    You are right, he will be missed. Sorry for the loss of your friend.


  5. Don Bacon says:

    “He will be best remembered for negotiating an end to the Bosnian War.”
    And not for expanding and extending the AfPak War, which seems likely to surpass the Iraq War as the worst US foreign policy move ever?
    Richard Holbrooke, Oct 29, 2010:
    “We are never going


  6. Chumanist says:

    The role Richard HolbBrooke(late) played for the Kosovars’ independence is really commendable.


  7. angellight says:

    The last words of Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s chief envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, before he was sedated for surgery on Friday:
    “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.”


  8. jonst says:

    Ok this is not the place to really argue this….but some things need to be noted.
    One…regards his supposed last words. Please, please, stop, Foggy Bottom. You are embarrassing yourself.
    I argue that he was not giant. I argue that neither was Foster Dulles, or Aceheson. They were simply men. And many argued, flawed ones at that.
    Kennan WAS a giant. In my opinion. If it makes you feel better wig-wag, to put Sec Hollbrooke in the same breath as Kennan, go ahead.
    If the lionizing that will go on now, was simply for Sec Hollbrooke, and his family. I say bravo! But watch out….watch out, there are more hidden agendas here that meeting of mafia chieftains.


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