- civilian representative for the Agency for International Development in Vietnam.
- American delegate to the Paris Peace Talks, aimed at halting the Vietnam War.
- Peace Corps director in Morroco.
- Assistant Secretary of State under President Jimmy Carter.
- campaign advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton.
- member of the board of Refugees International, focusing on the Bosnian conflict.
- U.S. Ambassador to Germany, immediately following German reunification.
- Assistant Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton.
- Special envoy to the Balkans, and chief negotiator of the Dayton Peace Accords, ending the Bosnian conflict.
- U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President Bill Clinton.
- mobilizer of The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria .
- Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan under President Barack Obama.
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."