Richard Holbrooke: A Quest For Balance

Ambassador and champion diplomat Richard Holbrooke passed away on Monday.  A good number of decades ago, for some unknown reason, I was drawn to reading about him.  Sometimes, someone just flashes across your radar screen, and the follow-up events become integrated into your reading life.  Holbrooke had an ongoing presence in current affairs due to our persistent engagement in wars.  His skills and talents were indispensable to such an aggressive  nation as ours in such a combative world.  I liked what I read about his ability to build cooperation, I liked him and so, I am saddened by his death.

In all of his professional endeavors, he tried to create and maintain the delicate balance between security and peace.   Above all, he believed in negotiated settlements rather than armed conflicts.  Although a tough arbiter with a direct focus on the matter on the table, Holbrooke’s ultimate goal was to end the wars.  Although far from being a hippie, Holbrooke was decidedly an envoy for peace.  While security and peace should work hand in hand and complement each other, too often they work against each other.  It is not surprising then, that his last words were “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.”  It is immaterial whether or not this comment was just pre-surgical banter or heartfelt thoughts; Holbrooke’s job weighed heavily on him.

What also is not surprising is that he attended Brown University as an undergraduate.  I have a large group of friends who likewise, are alumni of that school.  I refer to them as “the Brownies”.  Certainly that institution of higher learning attracts smart, interesting, caring individuals.  Yet it must also foster their altruism and dedication to a just humanity.  I have written about them frequently, especially during the last Presidential campaign, as their efforts in working for Barack Obama were heroic.  President Obama would have never gotten elected had it not been for the efforts of young adults like the Brownies.  To a man (or woman), each and every one of these people is brighter than the North Star.  Their intellectual capacity is boundless.  More notable though, their concern for the greater good, whether it be for their own small community, their country or the entire world, is worthy of my utmost admiration.  They do not simply talk a good line; they live it, working in jobs and careers that reflect their dedication to making our world a better place.  One of the highlights of my life so far is having the opportunity and honor of knowing these Brownies.

So I will miss Richard Holbrooke and his sense of obligation to mastering a world peace.  The negotiations he led, the agreements he delivered and the general wear and tear he took personally in order to do his best professionally, speak to and benefit all of us.  One may call his record the “sanity approach” to international relations.  One may call it pure humanitarianism.  One may call it a true desire for peace.  I call it a gargantuan, valiant effort to strike the balance between national security and world peace.

The United States government can sure take a lesson from Richard Holbrooke’s dedication to and fulfillment of the mission at hand.  It is a crying shame that Holbrooke was taken from us and the world so prematurely.  Of course, for a man of his caliber, with his principles, capabilities and work ethic, any time for his leavetaking would have been too soon.

Thank you, Richard Holbrooke.  RIP Mr. Ambassador.


For a lengthy, seminal article on Richard Holbrooke, “The Last Mission”, written by George Packer for the 9/28/09 New Yorker magazine, click on the link below:


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2 Responses to “Richard Holbrooke: A Quest For Balance”

  1. NatalieR Says:

    Great opinion. A tear just rolled down my face. I thought as you that he was STRONG and insistent. His goal was to end hostilities.

    This internet age is so incredible. As I was lauding Holbrooke on a blog another an extremist LEFT winger when on and on telling me I was just part of the sheeple population accepting propaganda about which I had no understanding. Naturally, he was not very complimentary toward Ambassador Holbrooke. It reinforces the scientific law that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    How can we know all things? I never had a boss who did not have another side about which I was not crazed. I have heard Ambassador Holbrooke was a tough man. Look at with whom he had to negotiate. I might call them tough … VERY tough. When the lefties wax extreme and anti EVERYTHING US and Israel, my blood runs cold and I freeze myself out of their debate. Nothing is black and white. There are ALWAYS shades of gray. To quote another humanitarian: “He who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    I do not know of a nation on earth that is not deserving of critical analysis. In our own personal human relationships we weigh the good against the bad like the scales of justice.

    I SUPPOSE even Jesus had another side when he furiously tipped over the money changers in the Temple. But he had another side too that said “In so much as ye do it unto the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me.” I’ll take that part of his legacy over any other. It is a metaphor for my feelings about Richard Holbrooke. In the final analysis, I think he tried to wage peace and do the best that he could for his country and the world. It probably cost him his life. Was he perfect? No. Who of us is?

  2. sarahsouth Says:

    oh Bon Bon!! Love you.

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