18 December 2010


The world lost an ambassador's ambassador this week. In the public service tradition of Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., Maxwell Taylor, Cyrus Vance, and Averell Harrimann, in 1962 Richard Holbrooke heeded the call to service by President John F. Kennedy, and entered the Foreign Service. What followed was a lifetime of outspoken dedication to humanity and peace. Among his significant accomplishments --

Richard Holbrooke is sorely missed by members of the diplomatic corps, by members of the media, and by political leaders around the world. His was a powerful yet genial personality, a force of nature. In The Unquiet American, Roger Cohen reflects that Holbrooke succeeded where none had before him, due in part to three personal qualities -- his passion for peace and justice, his understanding of the place of force in diplomacy, and his determination.

"Living in three time zones -- past, present, and future -- he liked to invoke history, for it was prologue. Living in three identities -- doer, observer and chronicler -- his persuasuve arsenal was intricate, part dagger, part whimsy. He knew how to close and how closing depended on a balance of forces .... This untimely death is a clarion call to America to set aside smallness in the name of values that can still inspire. Holbrooke was a fierce believer in the American capacity to do good. Here stood the nexus of his multiple beings. It is what made him so consequential in so many places and saved so many lives."

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