Richard Holbrooke
American diplomat
Richard Holbrooke
Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke was an American diplomat, magazine editor, author, professor, Peace Corps official, and investment banker. He was the only person to have held the position of Assistant Secretary of State for two different regions of the world (Asia from 1977 to 1981 and Europe from 1994 to 1996). From 1993 to 1994, he was U.S. Ambassador to Germany.
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On the Choice of the New Secretary General for the United Nations: Dr. Javad Zarif - A Man for All Reasons
Huffington Post - about 1 year
"Never, 'for the sake of peace and quiet', deny your own experience or convictions" Dag Hammarskjöld Introduction and Background Nearly every ten years the world goes through the ritual of selecting a new Secretary General (SG) for the United Nations (UN); as the UNSG, by tradition, is allowed to serve for up to two five-year terms. Twenty-five years ago, as a concerned observer, I followed my own conviction and weighed in on the process by publishing a letter in response to a biased editorial in the New York Times,"The Right Choice for the U.N." (October 4, 1991). This editorial strongly promoted the candidacy of Dr. Boutros Boutros Ghali, who was later on appointed as UNSG (on January 1, 1992). Using the same criteria in the editorial, I demonstrated that Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, a luminary in diplomatic circles, a prominent international statesman and the longest-serving United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (for 12 years), was a stronger and more qualified c ...
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Huffington Post article
Dayton Accords Defined the Past Not the Future?
Huffington Post - over 1 year
Two decades after the Dayton Accords, the question is not about what happened during the three weeks of negotiations, but why is Bosnia & Herzegovina ("BiH") still defined by and stuck in that period and the conflict that it ended. The Dayton Accords were envisioned as transitional not only in ending the war and its suffering, a most urgent and worthy goal, but also in opening the road for BiH to join its European neighbors in Euro-Atlantic institutions and thus advance economically and politically. Unfortunately, that road forward not only has not been advanced, but there are now some who employ the Dayton Accords as authority to retard the progress of BiH forward. Such backward-looking political leaders cling to nationalism, chauvinism and fear as a means to undermine the very objectives of the initial peace agreement achieved in Dayton now 20 years earlier. If not constructively utilized to move BiH forward, then the Dayton Accords cannot be a refuge for those living in the pa ...
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Huffington Post article
Hillary Clinton Channels Richard Holbrooke and Becomes a Hero
Huffington Post - over 1 year
Given all the punches that have been directed at Hillary Clinton by the Left (and I've thrown a few wild haymakers myself), here's a "counterpunch" argument that probably won't succeed in changing anyone's mind, but might serve to give them pause. It focuses solely on foreign policy. Back in my labor union days, a woman executive of a Fortune 500 company once shared an interesting observation with me. She said that because big-time management (corporate executives, Hollywood studios, Wall Street traders, national politics, etc.) was almost exclusively a "man's world," there were precious few gender-friendly role models for an up-and-coming woman to embrace. The only role models that an aspiring woman executive in, say, a consumer products company had to emulate were men. Her peers were very likely men, her boss was a man, her boss's boss was a man and the person with the power to promote her was a man. Not only was this woman, subconsciously, going to behave like the male exe ...
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Huffington Post article
In 'The Diplomat,' Filmmaker David Holbrooke Recalls Late Father's Career
NPR - over 1 year
NPR's Kelly McEvers speaks with filmmaker David Holbrooke about his new documentary, The Diplomat, exploring the life of his late father, the renowned diplomat Richard Holbrooke. » EMail This
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NPR article
'The Diplomat' documentary serves as an ode to Richard Holbrooke from his son, David
LATimes - over 1 year
David Holbrooke's documentary "The Diplomat," about his father, the late, celebrated ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who died in 2010, is a rich, occasionally stirring and ultimately plaintive ode to the craft of velvet gloves, iron fists and how to point with either or both. A garrulous but often...
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LATimes article
Obama's Last Stand on Afghanistan: A Strategy With No Foresight
Huffington Post - over 1 year
President Obama's decision to slow the troop drawdown from Afghanistan is hailed by some as the 'right decision.' But this 'right war' had done much wrong to the people of Afghanistan and like most U.S. foreign policy blunders; this one too misses the point. Afghanistan's current instability has resulted from a U.S. foreign policy miscalculation of giving up long-term strategies for regional stability in favor of short-term 'band-aid' solutions. Such quick fixes have usually unraveled in a year or two and it is hard to believe that this time around the result would be any different. Here is a short list of the major U.S. foreign policy blunders in regards to Afghanistan. 1. In 2001 when the U.S. was weighing to side with the warlordism of the Northern Alliance or the fanaticism of the Taliban, it found it easier to justify its invasion through the vilification of the latter. The U.S. could make a deal with the moderate Taliban who had re-unified Afghanistan and had cleansed the c ...
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Huffington Post article
Our Work for LGBT Rights Isn't Done
Huffington Post - over 1 year
This post is drawn from Ambassador Samantha Power's remarks, as delivered, on "Making LGBT Rights Universally Respected Human Rights," in Washington DC on October 14, 2015. Thank you, thank you so much, thank you. So hello, everybody. I am so touched and honored to be here and particularly be with so many people that I have the chance to work with inside government and outside. I have accepted the award but I want to stress that the award goes to this President, to all of the people outside the U.S. Government who give us ideas for how we can move the ball down the field, all of my colleagues within U.S. Government who have taken such strides within their little slice of this - what can feel like a behemoth at times. And above all, I want to thank my team who are represented here. This is the USUN family, a portion of it, and these are the people who are just day in and day out just constantly thinking and asking "what more can we do, how can we drive this agenda further?" Ju ...
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Huffington Post article
Life of diplomat Richard Holbrooke chronicled in new film
CNN - almost 2 years
David Holbrooke talks to Christiane Amanpour about making a film about his father, veteran U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who helped broker peace in Bosnia.
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CNN article
Late diplomat Richard Holbrooke left tapes criticizing Obama White House
Fox News - almost 2 years
Richard Holbrooke, a U.S. diplomat who died in 2010 who perhaps was best known for being the architect of the 1995 Bosnia peace plan, kept a video diary in the months before he died where he criticized the an all-too politically minded White House.
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Fox News article
Leibovich's <i>This Town</i>: The Tittle-Tattle Flibbertigibbet Musing of a Fashionisto Political Reporter in the Washington Beltway
Huffington Post - over 3 years
The must read book of the summer was Mark Leibovich's This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral -- plus plenty of valet parking! -- in America's Gilded Capital. This Town is tittle-tattle, the flibbertigibbet musings of a fashionisto political reporter covering the Washington beltway. Think of it as a wannabe "true-life" rendering of Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing. Does this qualify as political analysis? Not! But if the scandalmongering of today's political events makes us yearn for The West Wing to the extent that the simulacrum becomes our perceived reality, then, This Town stokes like "Big Blue" crystal meth. Leibovich's tale is a bestseller about the lifestyles of the rich and/or famous masquerading as our political leaders. The politics are driven by testosterone. Equal rights may have permeated the American mindset, but in Washington men still prevail. There's a frat-boy quality, a gin-room feel, to "The Club." And yes, Leibovich and his cohorts, our Washington political journ ...
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Huffington Post article
Lessons From Russian and Balkan History on How to Stop the War in Syria
Huffington Post - over 3 years
The current debate on the use and ban of chemical weapons in Syria is a salient testimony to a seemingly forgone notion in crisis diplomacy: the downward spiral of conflict doesn't end until the strategic interests of the key players are addressed -- in this case, the United States and its allies, versus Russia and its allies. The ban of chemical weapons is important for Syria, Iran, and the region, and the future of global security. However, it is even more critical to stop the fighting and carnage in Syria that has caused the worst humanitarian crisis in the existence of the United Nations. Beyond bringing stability to this already beleaguered region, doing so is also imperative for securely moving and eliminating chemical weapons in Syria. Syria has been, is, and will be of great importance for Russia -- hence President Putin's determination to win this crisis by all means. The diplomatic situation today seems reminiscent of the 1850s and of the pre-World War 1914 period. While we ...
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Huffington Post article
Nancy Pelosi Gives Flawed History Lesson
Huffington Post - over 3 years
The Following post first appeared on Rep. Nancy Pelosi mistakenly claimed that President Clinton launched an airstrike in 1999 after the House rejected the use of military force in a tie vote. Actually, U.S. and NATO forces had attacked Serbia five weeks before the House vote. The House Democratic leader spoke to reporters Sept. 3 after a White House meeting designed to rally congressional support for President Obama’s call for limited airstrikes in Syria. Pelosi, who supports the president’s plan, was asked if Obama can go forward with a military attack in Syria even if Congress votes against it. She used the question to “remind” reporters what happened in 1999, recalling – incorrectly – that “the planes were really ready to go” into Serbia when the House failed to support military air operations by a vote of 213 to 213. [Note: The transcript shows that Pelosi said “the planes were really ready to go into Bosnia,” but her spokesman, Drew Hammill, said she misspoke and ...
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Huffington Post article
Jared Feldschreiber: 'Justice Is Slow But Reachable': Commemoration Held Near UN in Honor of Srebrenica Genocide Victims
Huffington Post - over 3 years
Photo by Flossie Baker On July 1995, at least 8,372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were systematically killed as part of a genocidal campaign during a war few understand, nor want to, largely because of the intricacies of its convoluted ethnic landscape. And yet historians know the area all too well: it is near the site where World War I began almost 100 years ago. The Srebrenica genocide was a dark chapter in an already nasty Balkan conflict. One group committed ethnic cleansing against another, as a largely passive international community helplessly, and needlessly, watched it from the sidelines. "People know who the perpetrators are (of the massacre). We all know who the chief perpetrators were; Radovan Karadzic, and Ratko Mladic," CNN's Christiane Amanpour recalled in a 2008 interview in Sarajevo. Amanpour, along with other intrepid reporters, including Roy Gutman, Chuck Sudetic, John Burns, Kurt Schork and David Rohde had tried, largely in vain, to warn, and admoni ...
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Huffington Post article
New York Times Writer's Book On Powerful Media Ignores The Times
Huffington Post - over 3 years
NEW YORK -– When the Obama administration rolled into Washington in 2009, The New York Times once again found itself the mix. It had been tough for the paper to get access during the later Bush years, but in the first few months of Barack Obama's presidency, Times reporters, photographers and editors could already been seen benefiting from the fact that a Democratic administration had taken over and a devoted reader had begun occupying the Oval Office. The following year, Washington reporters griped to Politico about the White House playing favorites with the Times by offering “gift-wrapped scoops and loads of presidential face time.” And while Obama is known to poke fun at cable news pundits, he told Rolling Stone last year that he reads all the Times columnists. “There’s only one paper the president reads,” a former adviser said in April. “That’s The New York Times.” But in Mark Leibovich’s “This Town,” a humorous and incisive critique of Washington’s political-media e ...
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Huffington Post article
Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey: Bosnia's Alamo -- Srebrenica?
Huffington Post - over 3 years
From the massacre of all its defenders, "Remember the Alamo" became the call to victory. Executing all the defenders of Srebrenica and expelling all its Bosniak residents was the tactic that was intended to also wipe away all of Bosnia &amp; Herzegovina. The families of the victims of Srebrenica rightfully assume our attention and respect every July 11 to remember those who were dumped into mass graves but who will now never be forgotten. However, it is not only about reflecting upon the personal losses, but also it has become about "Remember Srebrenica" -- a call for all Bosnia &amp; Herzegovina (BiH) to again be realized as an open, multicultural and free society and equal partner in the Euro-Atlantic family.   Gluttony of Ethnic Cleansing:   Slobodan Milosevic and General Ratko Mladic, as despotic Generalissimo Santa Anna, employed the tactic of "no prisoners" to try to wipe away Bosnia &amp; Herzegovina (BiH) in a brutal assault against Srebrenica (and the other UN ...
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Huffington Post article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Richard Holbrooke
  • 2010
    Age 68
    Holbrooke died on December 13, 2010, from complications of the torn aorta.
    More Details Hide Details Holbrooke's last words before being sedated for surgery, which have been clarified to have been a comical interchange with his doctor, were: "You've got to end this war in Afghanistan." Frank Rich of New York Times wrote: "His premature death—while heroically bearing the crushing burdens of Afghanistan and Pakistan—is tragic in more ways than many Americans yet realize." On January 14, 2011, Holbrooke's memorial service was held at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The 2014 film Diplomacy was dedicated to Holbrooke. In 2015, Holbrooke's son David directed a documentary, The Diplomat, which chronicled his father's professional life and achievements.
    On December 11, 2010, Holbrooke was admitted to George Washington University Hospital in Washington after falling ill at the State Department's headquarters.
    More Details Hide Details While there, he underwent twenty hours of surgery to fix an aortic dissection, a rare condition.
    He served until he died from complications of an aortic dissection on December 13, 2010.
    More Details Hide Details Holbrooke's unfulfilled ambition was to become Secretary of State; he, along with George Kennan and Chip Bohlen, were considered among the most influential U.S. diplomats who never achieved cabinet rank. Several considered Holbrooke's role in the Dayton Accords to merit the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 2009
    Age 67
    In January 2009, Holbrooke was appointed by President Obama as special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    More Details Hide Details In that position, he helped kill an initiative to "back the creation of a new UN special envoy empowered to pursue peace talks with the Taliban." He also asserted that: one of the most cost-effective steps Washington could take would be to boost the agriculture sector of Afghanistan, which in years past had been a productive and profitable source of exports. Replicate the past success, he said, and Afghans would have money and jobs—and that, in turn, would create stability in the country. He called for 'a complete rethink' of the drug problem in Afghanistan, suggesting that draconian eradication programs were bound to fail. However, according to David Corn, "Holbrooke's skill set did not lead to much accomplishment in Afghanistan. He never worked out a productive relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai … He butted heads with other administration officials and was dismissed by European colleagues. He brokered no breakthroughs."
    In January 2009, Holbrooke was appointed as a special adviser on Pakistan and Afghanistan, working under President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
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  • 2008
    Age 66
    During the 2008 South Ossetia war between Russia and Georgia, Holbrooke said during a CNN interview that he had predicted the conflict in early 2008.
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    In June 2008, Conde Nast Portfolio reported that Holbrooke and his son allegedly got multiple below-rate loans at Countrywide Financial because the corporation considered them "FOA's"—"Friends of Angelo" (Countrywide Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo).
    More Details Hide Details A documentary titled The Diplomat centered on the legacy of Holbrooke's career appeared on HBO in the fall of 2015.
  • 2007
    Age 65
    On February 24, 2007, Holbrooke delivered the Democratic Party's weekly radio address and called for "a new strategy in Iraq", involving "a careful, phased redeployment of U.S. troops" and a "new diplomatic offensive in the Gulf region to help stabilize Iraq."
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  • 2004
    Age 62
    He was an adviser to the Presidential campaign of Senator John Kerry in 2004.
    More Details Hide Details Holbrooke then joined the Presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Clinton and became a top foreign policy adviser. Holbrooke was considered a likely candidate for Secretary of State had Kerry or Hillary Clinton been elected President.
  • 2001
    Age 59
    Holbrooke was the vice chairman of Perseus LLC, a leading private equity firm. From February 2001 until July 2008, Holbrooke was a member of the Board of Directors of American International Group.
    More Details Hide Details He was a member of the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and formerly served on the Advisory Board of the National Security Network. Holbrooke was also a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Citizens Committee for New York City, and the Economic Club of New York. He was a member of the Trilateral Commission, and he has been listed on their membership roster as one of their "Former Members in Public Service". He was the Founding Chairman of the American Academy in Berlin; President and CEO of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, the business alliance against HIV/AIDS, until his appointment as a special envoy by President Barack Obama; and Chairman of the Asia Society. Holbrooke's other board memberships included the American Museum of Natural History, Malaria No More (a New York-based nonprofit that was launched at the 2006 White House Summit with the goal of ending all deaths caused by malaria), Partnership for a Secure America, and the National Endowment for Democracy. Holbrooke was also an honorary trustee of the Dayton International Peace Museum, as well as professor-at-large at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, his alma mater. Additionally, Holbrooke was an Advisory Board member for the Partnership for a Secure America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recreating the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy.
    In January 2001, Holbrooke said that "Iraq will be one of the major issues facing the incoming Bush administration at the United Nations."
    More Details Hide Details Further, "Saddam Hussein's activities continue to be unacceptable and, in my view, dangerous to the region and, indeed, to the world, not only because he possesses the potential for weapons of mass destruction but because of the very nature of his regime. His willingness to be cruel internally is not unique in the world, but the combination of that and his willingness to export his problems makes him a clear and present danger at all times."
  • 2000
    Age 58
    In January 2000, when the United States was in the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, Ambassador Holbrooke held an unprecedented meeting of the Security Council to discuss AIDS in Africa.
    More Details Hide Details No Security Council session in the history of the UN had ever been devoted to a health issue prior to this historic meeting. Vice President Al Gore presided over the Security Council and declared that AIDS was a security threat to all nations. Upon leaving the UN a year later, Holbrooke took over a nearly moribund NGO that was intended to mobilize businesses and corporations in the fight against AIDS. At the time, it had 17 members. Over the next six years, Holbrooke turned this organization—originally called the Global Business Council on HIV/AIDS—into a worldwide organization with over 225 members. It expanded to include malaria and tuberculosis, becoming the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2006. In 2011, the organization became GBCHealth and expanded its mandate to include an array of health issues. GBCHealth is the official focal point for mobilizing the business community in support of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and has grown into an important part of the ongoing war against these three diseases.
    In 2000, Holbrooke led a UN Security Council delegation in a series of diplomatic negotiations throughout Africa, including to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Uganda.
    More Details Hide Details Holbrooke also secured membership for Israel in the UN's Western European and Others regional group, ending Israel's historic exclusion from regional group deliberations and allowing it to, for the first time, stand for election to leadership positions in UN sub-bodies. During the final weeks of his term, Holbrooke secured consultative status at the United Nations for Hadassah, the Jewish women's service organization, overcoming strenuous objections from certain Arab delegations.
    In January 2000, Holbrooke used the United States' presidency of the UN Security Council to spotlight a series of crises in Africa, holding six consecutive UN debates that brought together leaders from the region and the across the globe, including former South African President Nelson Mandela and then U.S. Vice President Al Gore, to catalyze more effective UN interventions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and elsewhere.
    More Details Hide Details Holbrooke decried a "double standard" whereby African conflicts received insufficient global attention.
    As negotiations reached a critical phase in the fall of 2000, Holbrooke bridged a gap between what the US was legally permitted to pay and the amounts the rest of the UN membership were willing to shoulder by securing an unprecedented contribution by billionaire Ted Turner, founder of the UN Foundation.
    More Details Hide Details Holbrooke and his team received a standing ovation in the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee when the terms of the deal were presented. Holbrooke's other achievements as UN Ambassador included getting the United Nations Security Council to debate and pass a resolution on HIV/AIDS, the first time that body had treated public health as a matter of global security.
  • 1999
    Age 57
    In August 1999, Holbrooke was sworn-in as the 22nd U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, replacing Bill Richardson.
    More Details Hide Details During his tenure, Holbrooke was known for innovation and for achieving diplomatic breakthroughs that settled a series of longstanding tensions in the United States' relationship with the UN. His highest-profile accomplishment was negotiating a historic deal between the United States and the UN's then 188-Member States to settle the bulk of arrears owed by the United States to the United Nations. The deal, achieved with the agreement of the UN's entire membership in late December 2000, lowered the rate of UN dues paid by the United States to the UN, fulfilling the terms of a US law championed by Senators Jesse Helms (R-NC) and Joseph Biden (D-DE). In return for the reduction, the US paid the UN over $900 million in back dues. Holbrooke secured a reduction in US dues to the UN despite a booming American economy by enfolding the US position within a broad push to update the UN's long-outdated financial system.
    In March 1999 he traveled to Belgrade to deliver the final ultimatum to Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević before the NATO attack began.
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  • 1998
    Age 56
    Holbrooke wrote numerous articles about his experiences in the Balkans, and in 1998, published the widely acclaimed book, To End a War, a memoir of his time as the chief negotiator of the Dayton Peace Accords, ending the Bosnian civil war.
    More Details Hide Details The New York Times ranked the book as one of the eleven best books of the year in 1998. According to Radovan Karadžić and Muhamed Sacirbey, ex-Bosnian Foreign Minister, Holbrooke signed an agreement with Karadžić that if the latter withdrew from politics he would not be sent to the Hague tribunal. Holbrooke denied these terms, saying Karadžić's statement was "a flat-out lie."
    During 1998 and 1999, in his capacity as special presidential envoy, Holbrooke worked to end the conflict between the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), who were fighting for an independent Kosovo in the Kosovo War.
    More Details Hide Details Holbrooke returned to Bosnia two years later to the city of Sarajevo.
  • 1997
    Age 55
    In 1997, Holbrooke became a special envoy to Cyprus and the Balkans on a pro-bono basis as a private citizen.
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  • 1996
    Age 54
    In 1996, he was awarded the Manfred Wörner Medal, awarded by the German Ministry of Defense for public figures who have rendered "special meritorious service to peace and freedom in Europe."
    More Details Hide Details Upon leaving the State Department, Holbrooke was asked by President Clinton to become, as a private citizen, a special envoy to the Balkans given his distinguished service in the region. Holbrooke left his post as assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian affairs and joined Credit Suisse First Boston, eventually taking the position of Vice Chairman.
    Holbrooke was a leading contender to succeed the retiring Warren Christopher as Secretary of State but was passed over in 1996 as President Bill Clinton chose Madeleine Albright instead.
    More Details Hide Details From 1999 to 2001, Holbrooke served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
  • 1995
    Age 53
    He was married to Kati Marton from 1995 until his death.
    More Details Hide Details Before he married Marton, he was involved in a longstanding relationship with the broadcast journalist Diane Sawyer and lived with her for seven years.
    In Paris in December 1995, he was the chief architect of the Dayton Peace Accords which ended a three-and-a-half-year-long war in Bosnia.
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  • 1994
    Age 52
    In 1994, Holbrooke returned to Washington to become the assistant secretary for European and Canadian Affairs, a position he held until 1996, when he resigned for personal reasons (he had recently married the author Kati Marton and wished to return to New York).
    More Details Hide Details While assistant secretary, Holbrooke led the effort to implement the policy to enlarge NATO and had the distinction of leading the negotiation team charged with resolving the Balkans crisis.
    In 1994, while serving as U.S. Ambassador to Germany, he conceived the idea of a cultural exchange center between the people of Berlin and Americans. With Richard von Weizsäcker, former President of Germany, and Henry A. Kissinger as co-Chairman, this institution—The American Academy in Berlin—was announced on September 9, 1994, the day after the U.S. Army Berlin Brigade left Berlin.
    More Details Hide Details The American Academy in Berlin opened three years later in a villa on the Wannsee once owned by the German-Jewish banker Hans Arnhold. It is now one of the most important links between Germany and the United States. Its Fellows have included writers (including Pulitzer Prize winning authors Arthur Miller and Jeffrey Eugenides), economists, government officials, and public policy experts such as Dennis Ross and former U.S. Ambassador to The Peoples Republic of China, J. Stapleton Roy. In 2008, The American Academy in Berlin awarded its annual Henry A. Kissinger Award for Transatlantic Relations to George H. W. Bush. In 2007, the Award's first recipient was former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.
    Holbrooke served in Germany during a dramatic moment: only a few years after German reunification, he helped shape U.S. relations with a new Germany. A highlight of his tenure was President Bill Clinton’s visit to Berlin in July 1994, when thousands of Germans crammed the streets to welcome the American leader.
    More Details Hide Details While in Germany, Holbrooke also was a key figure in shaping the U.S. policy to promote NATO enlargement, as well as its approach to the war in Bosnia.
  • 1993
    Age 51
    In 1993, after Bill Clinton became President, Holbrooke was initially slated to be Ambassador to Japan due to his depth of knowledge and long experience in Asian affairs.
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  • 1992
    Age 50
    In 1992, Holbrooke was also a member of the Carnegie Commission on America and a Changing World and Chairman and principal author of the bipartisan Commission on Government and Renewal, sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation and the Peterson Institute.
    More Details Hide Details He was Chairman and principal author of the "Memo to the President-Elect: Harnessing Process to Purpose," a blue-ribbon Commission report sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Institute for International Economics.
    Holbrooke also remained deeply engaged in prominent foreign policy issues. He visited Bosnia twice in 1992 as a private citizen and a member of the board of Refugees International, witnessing firsthand the damage and devastating human costs of the conflict.
    More Details Hide Details This experience committed Holbrooke to pursuing a more aggressive policy in Balkans and, in a memo to his colleagues, he urged that "Bosnia will be the key test of American policy in Europe. We must therefore succeed in whatever we attempt."
  • 1991
    Age 49
    During this time, he co-authored Counsel to the President, The New York Times best-selling memoirs of legendary Democratic wise man and Defense Secretary Clark Clifford, published in 1991.
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  • 1988
    Age 46
    He was a top policy adviser to then-Senator Al Gore (D-TN) during his 1988 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
    More Details Hide Details And four years later he advised Bill Clinton, in his quest for the White House.
  • 1985
    Age 43
    From 1985 until 1993, Holbrooke served as managing director of Lehman Brothers.
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  • 1981
    Age 39
    In January 1981, Holbrooke left government and became both senior advisor to Lehman Brothers and vice president of Public Strategies, a consulting firm he formed with James A. Johnson, a former top aide to Walter Mondale.
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  • 1977
    Age 35
    In August 1977, then Assistant Secretary of State, Holbrooke traveled to Indonesia to meet with President Suharto in the midst of Indonesia's occupation of East Timor, in which over 100,000 East Timorese were ultimately killed or starved to death.
    More Details Hide Details According to Brad Simpson, director of the Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project at the National Security Archives, Holbrooke had visited officially to press for human rights reform but, after meeting Suharto, had instead praised him for Indonesia’s human rights improvements, for the steps that Indonesia had taken to open East Timor to the West, and for allowing a delegation of congressmen to enter the territory under strict military guard, where they were greeted by staged celebrations welcoming the Indonesian armed forces.
    After Carter's victory, Holbrooke followed in the footsteps of such diplomatic mentors as Philip Habib, Dean Rusk and Averell Harriman and, on March 31, 1977, became Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, making him the youngest person ever to hold that position, a post he held until 1981.
    More Details Hide Details While at State, he was a top adviser to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. During his service, he oversaw a warming with Cold War adversaries in the region, culminating in the normalization of relations with China in December 1978. He was also deeply involved in bringing hundreds of thousands of Indochinese refugees to the United States, thus beginning a lifelong involvement with the refugee issue.
    He later married Blythe Babyak, a reporter for MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, on January 1, 1977; they divorced.
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  • 1976
    Age 34
    In the summer of 1976, Holbrooke left Foreign Policy to serve as campaign coordinator for national security affairs to Governor Jimmy Carter (D-GA) in his bid for the White House.
    More Details Hide Details During the campaign, Holbrooke helped Carter prepare for his foreign policy debates with President Gerald Ford.
  • 1972
    Age 30
    After two years, he left the Foreign Service to become the Managing Editor of the magazine Foreign Policy from 1972–1976.
    More Details Hide Details At the same time (1974–75), he was a consultant to the President's Commission on the Organization of the Government for the Conduct of Foreign Policy and was a contributing editor to Newsweek International.
  • 1970
    Age 28
    In 1970, at his own request, Holbrooke was assigned to be the Peace Corps Director in Morocco.
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    He was later a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, leaving in 1970.
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  • 1968
    Age 26
    Following his time in the White House, Holbrooke served as a special assistant to Under Secretaries of State (then the number-two position in the State Department) Nicholas Katzenbach and Elliot Richardson. In 1968, Holbrooke was asked to be part of the American delegation to the 1968 Paris peace talks, which was led by former New York Governor Averell Harriman and Deputy Secretary of Defense Cyrus Vance.
    More Details Hide Details He also drafted a volume of the now famous Pentagon Papers, a top-secret report on the government’s decision-making in Vietnam. Following these assignments, Holbrooke spent a year as a mid-career fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.
  • 1964
    Age 22
    Holbrooke was married three times. His first wife was Larrine Sullivan, whom he married in 1964; Holbrooke and Sullivan divorced.
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  • 1962
    Age 20
    In 1962, Holbrooke graduated from Brown University, where he was inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s call to service to enter government work.
    More Details Hide Details A few weeks after college graduation, Holbrooke entered the Foreign Service. A year later, after Vietnamese language training, he began six years of service in and on Vietnam. He served first in the Mekong Delta, as a civilian representative for the Agency for International Development working on the rural Pacification Program. This involved supporting the South Vietnam government with economic development and enacting local political reforms. Holbrooke then moved to the US Embassy, Saigon where he became a staff assistant to Ambassadors Maxwell Taylor and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. During this time, he served with many other young diplomats who would play a major role in American foreign policy in the decades ahead, including John Negroponte, Anthony Lake, Frank G. Wisner, Les Aspin and Peter Tarnoff. As the Vietnam War escalated, President Lyndon Johnson formed a team of Vietnam experts to work in the White House under the former head of the Phoenix Program, R.W. Komer, in an operation that was separate from the National Security Council. As a rising young diplomat with significant experience in the country, Holbrooke was asked to join the group when he was only twenty-four years old.
    After Scarsdale High School, Holbrooke earned a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University in 1962, attending on a full-tuition scholarship.
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  • 1941
    Holbrooke was born on April 24, 1941, in New York City, to Dan Holbrooke, a doctor, and Trudi Kearl (née Moos), a potter; brother, Andrew, survives him.
    More Details Hide Details Holbrooke's mother, whose Jewish family fled Hamburg in 1933 for Buenos Aires before coming to New York, took him to Quaker meetings on Sundays. She stated: “I was an atheist, his father was an atheist... We never thought of giving Richard a Jewish upbringing. The Quaker meetings seemed interesting.” Holbrooke’s father, who died of cancer when Richard was 15 years old, was born of Polish Jewish parents in Warsaw and took the name Holbrooke after migrating to the United States in 1939. The original family name was Goldbrajch.
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