Richard C. Holbrooke, renowned diplomat and the Obama Administration's point man in the Afghanistan and Pakistan war front, died on Monday, December 13th. He was 69 years old.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement , noting that Holbrooke had been with his wife Kati, sons David and Anthony, step-children Elizabeth and Chris Jennings, daughter-in-law Sarah, and other family when he passed away.
"He was one of a kind -- a true statesman -- and that makes his passing all the more painful." Clinton said.
"Few people have ever left a larger mark on the State Department or our country. From Southeast Asia to post-Cold War Europe and around the globe, people have a better chance of a peaceful future because of Richard's lifetime of service"
On Saturday, President Obama had released a statement noting that Secretary Clinton, Admiral Mike Mullen, and incoming National Security Advisor Tom Donilon had visited Holbrooke at George Washington hospital where he had been trying to recover from illness. Doctors had performed surgery on an aorta tear Saturday.
Holbrooke was the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, but despite a career that spanned from the Kennedy administration to his passing, he will likely be best remembered for being the chief architect of the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995. Those accords brokered the end the war in Bosnia.
According to his State Department webpage , Holbrooke was a member of President Clinton's cabinet from 1999 to 2001. He was later the Special Envoy to Bosnia and Kosovo and served as a Special Envoy to Cyprus as a private citizen.
Former President Clinton noted at the William J. Clinton Foundation website , "Tomorrow marks the 15-year anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Accords — the agreement Dick negotiated which stopped the killings in Bosnia and paved a path to peace in the Balkans that endures today. He was central to our efforts to limit ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and pave the way for its independence, and he found a way to break the stalemate in talks in Cyprus."
Among his accomplishments, Holbrooke served in Vietnam in the Foreign Service from 1963 to 1966. He worked for President Johnson on Vietnam issues and was a member of the U.S. delegation at the 1968 to 1969 Vietnam Peace Talks in Paris.
He went to serve as Peace Corps Director in Morocco, Managing Editor of Foreign Policy, and served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs during the Carter Administration. During that time, he helped normalize Sino-American relations.
Just prior to serving as Assistant Secretary of State for Europe from 1994 to 1996, Holbrooke was the U.S. Ambassador to Germany for two years.
Known as a hard-working diplomat who wasn't shy about being frank in his assessments and assertive in negotiations, he is believed to have had more difficulties negotiating the more delicate atmosphere in working with leaders like Afghan President Hamid Karzai. He had celebrated, with some candor, the capture of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic who was captured in 2008 and was never shy about commenting on Balkan politics as they unfolded after the Accords.
Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.