The Passing of a Luminary

The Richard Holbrooke Beatification ceremony by the Washington Post appears to be in the works.  He was an energetic and clever fellow, who, under other circumstances, would likely have been assigned to the dustbin of history. 

He was one of many who coursed through the ranks of the military and the diplomatic corps with appointments and promotions to the highest positions, with only family connections as the basis for advancement.


 Holbrooke led a gilded diplomatic career, helped along greatly by his personal mentor, Dean Rusk — a family friend, who happened to be Secretary of State. 

Rusk plugged him into a series of positions with influential and powerful US diplomats and statesmen in Viet Nam and the White House, few of whom lavished him with high praise – perhaps because of his sophomoric outbursts and commentary on the Viet Nam war.

 In his out-years, he used his connections to achieve academic and financial strength, helping to found and edit the Foreign Policy magazine [a Washington Post subsidiary].  He later formed a consulting firm which he sold to Lehman Brothers for a tidy sum. 

President Clinton apparently viewed him more with shock than awe and gave him an ambassadorship instead of the SecState job, but later appointed him as Assistant Secretary for European Affairs where he gained fame for taking credit for the Dayton Accords.

 He’s had mixed reviews under President Obama; his first floor office at the State Department had the equivalent status of a corporate executive working out of the company mailroom.  Not many in either the diplomatic or military communities gave him high marks for anything other than being tempestuous, brash and arrogant, and an obstacle to diplomatic accomplishment. 

  Joe Biden’s comment in the Post seems to sum it up: 

“He’s the most egotistical bastard I’ve ever met.”

 Essentially, he was what is referred to as “A man with a paper hat” i.e., a person to be taken seriously only because he is [was] politically connected, but to be ignored otherwise.