Special U.S. envoy Holbrooke dies
BY Wire Reports
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
12/14/10 at 4:56 AM
Richard Holbrooke, a brilliant and feisty U.S. diplomat who wrote part of the Pentagon Papers, was the architect of the 1995 Bosnia peace plan and served as President Barack Obama's special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, died Monday, an administration official said. He was 69.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the family had yet to make a formal announcement of Holbrooke's death.
Holbrooke, whose forceful style earned him nicknames such as "The Bulldozer" or "Raging Bull," was admitted to the hospital on Friday after becoming ill at the State Department. The former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. had surgery Saturday to repair a tear in his aorta.
Obama praised Holbrooke earlier Monday for making America safer.
"He is simply one of the giants of American foreign policy," Obama said during a holiday reception at the State Department.
Holbrooke served under every Democratic president from John F. Kennedy to Obama in a lengthy career that began with a foreign service posting in Vietnam in 1962 after his graduation from Brown University and included time as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Paris Peace Talks on Vietnam.
"If Richard calls you and asks you for something, just say yes," former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once said. "If you say no, you'll eventually get to yes, but the journey will be very painful."
He learned to become extremely informed about whatever country he was in, push for an exit strategy and look for ways to get those who live in a country to take increasing responsibility for their own security.
The bearish Holbrooke said he had no qualms about "negotiating with people who do immoral things."
"If you can prevent the deaths of people still alive, you're not doing a disservice to those already killed by trying to do so," he said in 1999.
Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke was born April 24, 1941, in New York City. He had an interest in public service from his early years.
Holbrooke was a young provincial representative for the U.S. Agency for International Development in South Vietnam and then an aide to two U.S. ambassadors in Saigon. At the Johnson White House, he wrote one volume of the Pentagon Papers, an internal government study of U.S. involvement in Vietnam that was completed in 1967.
The study, leaked in 1971 by a former Defense Department aide, contained many damaging revelations, including a memo that stated the reason for fighting in Vietnam was based far more on preserving U.S. prestige than preventing communism or helping the Vietnamese.
After stints in and out of government, he became the assistant secretary of state for Asian affairs from 1977 to 1981, and he returned to public service when Bill Clinton took the White House in 1993. Holbrooke was the U.S. ambassador to Germany during 1993-94 and then the assistant secretary of state for European affairs.
One of his signature achievements was brokering the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia.
Holbrooke is survived by his wife, the author Kati Marton, and two sons, David Dan Holbrooke and Anthony Andrew Holbrooke.
Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was a longtime U.S. diplomat who wrote part of the Pentagon Papers and was the architect of the 1995 Bosnia peace plan. AP file