U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke was the sort of high-wire diplomatic fixer that seems increasingly rare these days. His greatest feat was ramrodding the 1995 Dayton peace accords and ending the bloody wars in Bosnia.
He was hospitalized after doctors discovered a tear in his aorta. Before his death Monday, Holbrooke had hoped to move the war in Afghanistan toward a solution, but the political and military landscape proved more intractable than that in the Balkans.
Much of Holbrooke’s success came from sheer force of personality, but in Afghanistan and Pakistan his well-known abrasiveness proved less successful. He rubbed key people the wrong way, most notably Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
In a career stretching back to the 1960s, Holbrooke served in a wide variety of capacities. He served in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta for the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was an ambassador to Germany, a Peace Corps director in Morocco, the chief U.S. representative at the United Nations, an assistant secretary of state, a high-level envoy to the world’s most troubled places.
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