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Holbrooke Thought Highly of Himself, for Good Reason
Townhall.com ^ | December 16, 2010 | Michael Barone

Posted on 12/16/2010 4:58:07 AM PST by Kaslin

Reading "Masters and Commanders," Andrew Roberts's magnificent account of British and American leaders in World War II, I was struck by how many of them, working prodigious hours and under great strain, were struck down by heart attacks while in their 60s.

This doesn't happen anymore, I thought, with the blood pressure and cholesterol medicines many of us routinely take.

But it does, as we were reminded by the sudden death at age 69 this week of Richard Holbrooke, who was working prodigiously as Barack Obama's special representative for AfPak, i.e., Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Holbrooke was known in cynical Washington circles for his high opinion of his own abilities and for his self-promotion with policymakers and the press. But from my own observations and in frequent interactions with him, I think that his opinion of himself was justified and that it is ludicrous for ambitious Washington insiders to castigate others for a trait they share.

Was he "probably the greatest diplomat of his generation," as National Journal's Michael Hirsch wrote? Yes, probably, and the Obama administration, like the three previous Democratic administrations, was lucky to have his services, even if none of those presidents felt obliged to make him secretary of state, as he surely wanted.

Holbrooke began his career as a Foreign Service officer in Vietnam, and he became known for a memo prepared during the Johnson administration that described the war effort there as unwinnable. He was a junior member of the Paris peace negotiations with the North Vietnamese in 1968.

Unlike some of those responsible for America's prosecution of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, he did not draw the lessons that the use of American military power was always counterproductive and that America was not a force for good in the world.

He was, in other words, a Democrat in the tradition of Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy, and not in the mold of many democratic leaders in the four post-Vietnam decades.

Foreign Service officers tend to specialize in certain regions, but Holbrooke got around. He was assistant secretary of state for Asian affairs in the Carter administration, but when Bill Clinton became president he was named ambassador to Germany and then assistant secretary of state for Europe.

It was in that capacity that he pressed Clinton to take a robust approach to end the fighting and "ethnic cleansing" in the former Yugoslavia. He was able to negotiate the settlements with the likes of Slobodan Milosevic not by sweet persuasion but by credibly threatening and using American military power.

He presided masterfully over the talks at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and his Dayton Accords brought peace to Bosnia that has now lasted a decade and a half.

As ambassador to the United Nations, he reached an accord with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms on U.N. dues and procedures. He encourages Helms' support of anti-AIDS programs and was punctilious about traveling to North Carolina to honor him after he retired.

Holbrooke was less fortunate in his excursions into partisan politics. In the last decade, he backed Al Gore, John Kerry and Hilary Clinton for president, and any of them, if elected, would probably have appointed him secretary of state.

The inside story of Holbrooke's work in this administration has not been fully told, and may not be told as well as he told the story of his work in the Balkans in his 1998 book "To End a War." Relations between Holbrooke and Afghan President Hamid Karzai appeared to have been abrasive and at times nonexistent. I suspect that Holbrooke saw himself playing the bad cop while other appointees were playing good cop to a leader who at best has been a problematic ally of the United States.

It was an arduous assignment, and just reading about those long flights to Islamabad and Kabul, the endless hours of agonizing negotiations and his late night reading makes one weary. Like those leaders in World War II, Holbrooke seems to have literally worn himself out and pushed his body to the breaking point. Given an assignment that few would envy and placed in a bureaucratically ambiguous position, he labored hard and uncomplainingly in what he considered the interest of his country.

He leaves behind a tantalizing question: Were his great talents as fully utilized by this president as they might have been?


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: 1968; algore; bookdeals; bosnia; carteradmin; clintonadmin; goodriddance; gore; halms; hamidkarzai; helms; hilaryclinton; hillaryclinton; holbrooke; jessehelms; johnkerry; karzai; kerry; milosevic; northvietnamese; obamaadmin; parispeaceaccord; parispeaceaccords; parispeacetalks; ppa; richardholbrooke; slobodanmilosevic; undues; vietnam; wrightpatterson; wrightpattersonafb; yugoslavia

1 posted on 12/16/2010 4:58:09 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
Good grief!

What a shameless puff piece about a guy that is a disgrace. One less vile person, is a good thing.

2 posted on 12/16/2010 5:08:52 AM PST by nmh (Intelligent people recognize Intelligent Design (God).)
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To: Kaslin

As far as I can see, Holbrooke worked tirelessly to make sure that America never won a war.


3 posted on 12/16/2010 5:12:57 AM PST by ClearCase_guy
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To: ClearCase_guy

He was a typical pompous know-it-all who made sure to perpetuate the image of the Ugly American in every country he was sent to.


4 posted on 12/16/2010 5:19:18 AM PST by no_go_lie
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To: Kaslin

Holbrooke was scum.

Next one up should be Mitchell.


5 posted on 12/16/2010 5:32:30 AM PST by Hardraade (I want gigaton warheads now!!)
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To: ClearCase_guy
.

Guys,

I agree that Holbroke was America's "Peace in Our Time" Chamberlain ...

and that he was wined and dined (and who knows what else) by the best that America's Stae Department ... and Europe could offer ... living the "good life" ...

but he fought like hell for what he believed in ... worked long hours for decades ...

at least he wasn't a Bill Clinton or Bernie Madoff kind of guy ...



Rest In Peace



.
6 posted on 12/16/2010 5:34:19 AM PST by Patton@Bastogne
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To: Kaslin

Well, I had held Barone in high regard until now.
He has dropped a few notches.


7 posted on 12/16/2010 5:34:43 AM PST by Maine Mariner
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To: Kaslin
and he became known for a memo prepared during the Johnson administration that described the war effort there as unwinnable.

Isn't it a General's job to make that assessment? I'm not glad the man is dead, but I'm glad he's not influencing US foreign efforts anymore.

8 posted on 12/16/2010 5:43:06 AM PST by Textide
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To: Kaslin
Barone admits (of Holbrooke):
"In the last decade, he backed Al Gore, John Kerry and Hilary Clinton for president..."
And yet he claims:
"He was, in other words, a Democrat in the tradition of Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy, and not in the mold of many democratic leaders in the four post-Vietnam decades."
As if a Truman or JFK would have backed any of that American Surrender trifecta! Barone can't seem to see or think his way clear of his Washington aristocracy loyalties. Pathetic!
9 posted on 12/16/2010 5:43:46 AM PST by drpix
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To: Kaslin
e presided masterfully over the talks at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and his Dayton Accords brought peace to Bosnia that has now lasted a decade and a half

Mostly through ethnic cleansing. The lasting peace will come when the Muslims are booted from Europe once and for all, but that might take 100 years. It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

10 posted on 12/16/2010 5:49:14 AM PST by palmer (Cooperating with Obama = helping him extend the depression and implement socialism.)
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To: Kaslin
Holbrooke was a tool of the liberal agenda. He worked for every Dem Prez since Kennedy.
11 posted on 12/16/2010 5:50:47 AM PST by mad_as_he$$ (V for Vendetta.)
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To: ClearCase_guy

BINGO


12 posted on 12/16/2010 6:04:22 AM PST by silverleaf (All that is necessary for evil to succeed, is that good men do nothing)
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To: drpix
Barone can't seem to see or think his way clear of his Washington aristocracy loyalties.

Barone, Krauthammer, George Will, Bill O'Reilly, Noonan ... it seems to me that most of the bigname Republican pundits are eager to pepetuate a political aristocracy centered on inside-the-beltway thinking. I wonder which party will benefit from their efforts?

Not a big surprise that these people hate Sarah Palin.

13 posted on 12/16/2010 6:04:35 AM PST by ClearCase_guy
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To: Kaslin
He presided masterfully over the talks at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and his Dayton Accords brought peace to Bosnia that has now lasted a decade and a half.

Barone has it all wrong on this one.

The USA fought on the wrong side and we used our power to help the muzzies kill the Christians in an ethnic war that has been going on for centuries.

This is really one that our pretender, kenyan, halfrican can really get behind.

14 posted on 12/16/2010 6:27:06 AM PST by USS Alaska
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To: Hardraade
Holbrooke was scum.

General McChrystal thought he was worthless. I'm on big McChrystal fan (he's an Obama supporter after all), but I agree with him on this assessment.

On the other hand maybe my father had it right when he said, "Nobody is totally worthless.....you can always hold them up as a bad example".

15 posted on 12/16/2010 6:27:37 AM PST by Retired COB (Still mad about Campaign Finance Reform)
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To: Kaslin

He didn’t die of a heart attack. A ruptured aorta killed him.


16 posted on 12/16/2010 6:27:47 AM PST by em2vn
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To: Retired COB
I'm on big McChrystal fan

Sorry, that's I'm NO big McChrystal fan

17 posted on 12/16/2010 6:29:16 AM PST by Retired COB (Still mad about Campaign Finance Reform)
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To: ClearCase_guy

I find it interesting how these pinheads, (Barone, Krauthammer, George Will, Bill O’Reilly, Noonan) are just so afraid to call the Obama Administration ‘Socialist’ or even Autocrats....these so called wordsmiths are bamboozled by their lack of intellect & history. None of these scribes & talk meisters are worth warm spit.


18 posted on 12/16/2010 6:29:28 AM PST by iopscusa (El Vaquero. (SC Lowcountry Cowboy))
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To: USS Alaska
Oh, in my last thread, I forgot, holbrooke was a sanctimonious piece of dogshit.

Merry Christmas.

19 posted on 12/16/2010 6:30:44 AM PST by USS Alaska
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To: Kaslin

From all that’s been written since his death about Holbrooke, it seems like there’s one English word that could pretty much encapsulate the essence of the man. From what I can tell, “asshole” pretty much sums it up.


20 posted on 12/16/2010 6:37:19 AM PST by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
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To: Patton@Bastogne
Holbrooke was on the AIG Board of Directors during the credit swaps/default days while locking in corporate bonuses for "his work". Quit two months before the poop hit the fan in 2008.

For overseeing the financial aspect of crashing the “system”, I would say Holbrooke was 100x worse than Madoff.

21 posted on 12/16/2010 6:39:23 AM PST by rollo tomasi (Working hard to pay for deadbeats and corrupt politicians)
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To: Patton@Bastogne
Forgot the cronyism/Bill Clinton part. Holbrooke managed to secure cushy loans through Countrywide for himself and his son. Thus, on par with the “Bill Clinton types”.
22 posted on 12/16/2010 6:42:52 AM PST by rollo tomasi (Working hard to pay for deadbeats and corrupt politicians)
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To: Kaslin; nmh; ClearCase_guy; no_go_lie; Hardraade; Maine Mariner; Textide; drpix; palmer; ...

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/2643332/posts


23 posted on 12/16/2010 7:01:09 AM PST by gitmogrunt (Islamists Targeting Christians Anywhere and Everywhere.)
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To: gitmogrunt
Thanks for the link. The photo says it all:

A picture of the surrender mindset: Holbrooke goes shoeless to sit with a booted armed Albanian Muslim gunman. (But if he loosened his tie he could appear relaxed.)

24 posted on 12/16/2010 7:30:59 AM PST by drpix
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To: drpix
Holbrooke, the KLA pimp and totalitarian globalist who is worthy of earthly admiration.
25 posted on 12/16/2010 7:40:34 AM PST by rollo tomasi (Working hard to pay for deadbeats and corrupt politicians)
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To: Kaslin

I’m not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV), but isn’t a tear in the aorta a completely different thing from a heart attack?


26 posted on 12/16/2010 7:58:10 AM PST by 2nd Bn, 11th Mar (All sweat, no equity)
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To: ClearCase_guy

Now Now,, don’t go insulting the Punditocracy.

They know what they’re talking about.. it’s written on the teleprompters they read from..


27 posted on 12/16/2010 9:39:29 AM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed .. Monthly Donor Onboard .. Obama: Epic Fail or Bust!!!)
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To: Kaslin

Holbrooke was a globalist one-worlder. Pure evil.


28 posted on 12/16/2010 9:48:01 AM PST by BigSkyFreeper (In 2012: The Rookie and The Wookie get booted from the White House.)
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To: ClearCase_guy
Yep. That's my assessment as well. "Making peace" is easy when you just throw in the towel.

Holbrooke's "hard work" consisted almost entirely of getting others on the American side to go along with his cut and run prescriptions.

I'd piss on his grave and go back and drink to do it some more.

29 posted on 12/16/2010 9:51:55 AM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: Patton@Bastogne
I agree that Holbroke was America's "Peace in Our Time" Chamberlain ...

It took Chamberlain less than one year after Munich to figure out that Hitler had snookered him.

After that, he had the decency to resign and make way for Churchill.

30 posted on 12/16/2010 9:54:01 AM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: no_go_lie
from what I read, he went straight from college into the govt and never looked back...never faced a layoff or a company bankruptcy, or no medical or vacation, or worried about being phased out, etc....

he was a political hack first and foremost...

God bless him and his family, but seriously, Oprah Winfrey is a better American diplomat than these hired guns and she's an entertainer!

31 posted on 12/16/2010 5:11:07 PM PST by cherry
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To: nmh

I agree. If he had kicked the bucket 20 years ago, we’d all be better off.


32 posted on 12/16/2010 7:02:46 PM PST by jospehm20
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To: Kaslin

Holbrooke thought highgly of himself. Or, in plain English, he was full of himself.


33 posted on 12/21/2010 1:15:52 PM PST by DTA
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To: Retired COB

Are you sure you aren’t thinking of Gen. McKenzie?

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2644440/posts


34 posted on 05/07/2014 7:00:22 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge)
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To: piasa

Maybe that’s where my Dad heard it.


35 posted on 05/31/2014 5:12:28 AM PDT by Retired COB (Still mad about Campaign Finance Reform)
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