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Holbrooke, Richard (Afghanistan Czar)

Title: Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
Reports to: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Department that handles similar issues: State Department
Duties: Works with CENTCOM head Gen. David Petraeus to integrate U.S. civilian and military efforts in the region.

  • Born in April 1941 in New York City
  • Earned BA from Brown University in 1962
  • Served as a staff assistant to Ambassadors Maxwell Taylor and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. in Saigon during the Vietnam War
  • Served on President Lyndon Johnson’s team of Vietnam experts who worked in the White House under R.W. Komer, in a capacity separate from the National Security Council
  • Served as a special assistant to Under Secretaries of State Nicholas Katzenbach and Elliot Richardson in the late 1960s to 1970
  • Was a member of the American delegation to the 1968 Paris peace talks designed to bring the Vietnam war to a close
  • Served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, 1999-2001
  • Drafted a volume of the infamous 1971 Pentagon Papers: During President Lyndon Johnson's administration (1964-1968), Defense Department official Morton Halperin was put in charge of compiling a classified history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. As David Horowitz and Richard Poe report: “This secret history later emerged [in June 1971] into public view as the so-called ‘Pentagon Papers.’ Halperin and his deputy Leslie Gelb assigned much of the writing to leftwing opponents of the war … Not surprisingly, ‘The Pentagon Papers’ echoed Halperin’s longstanding position that the Vietnam War was unwinnable, and ridiculed Presidents Kennedy and Johnson for stubbornly refusing to heed those of their advisors who shared this opinion.”
  • Was assigned to be the Peace Corps Director in Morocco in 1970
  • Was managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine from 1972–1976
  • Was a consultant to the President’s Commission on the Organization of the Government for the Conduct of Foreign Policy from 1974-1975
  • Was a contributing editor to Newsweek International, 1974-1975
  • Served as campaign coordinator for national security affairs to Governor Jimmy Carter in his 1976 bid for the White House
  • Was Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs during the Carter administration, 1977-1981
  • After Carter lost the 1980 presidential election, Holbrooke entered the private sector and became senior advisor to Lehman Brothers and vice president of Public Strategies, a Washington, DC-based consulting firm which he co-founded with former Walter Mondale aide James A. Johnson.
  • Was managing director of Lehman Brothers from 1985-93
  • Served as policy adviser to Senator Al Gore during his 1988 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination
  • Served as advisor for Governor Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign
  • Was appointed Ambassador to Germany by Clinton in 1992
  • Was assistant secretary for European and Canadian Affairs from 1994-1996
  • Was the chief architect of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • After leaving the State Department, Holbrooke served (at Bill Clinton’s request) as a special envoy to Cyprus and the Balkans.
  • Became U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 1999, replacing Bill Richardson
  • In 2001, after Democrats had lost control of the White House, Holbrooke became vice chairman of Perseus LLC, a private equity firm.
  • Served as Board of Directors member of American International Group (AIG) from February 2001 to July 2008. During this period, AIG engaged in wildly speculative credit-default insurance schemes that threatened to topple the entire American financial system.
  • Had Democrat John Kerry won the presidential election in 2004, Holbrooke most likely would have been his choice for Secretary of State.
  • On February 24, 2007, Holbrooke called for "a new strategy in Iraq", involving "a careful, phased redeployment of U.S. troops" and a "new diplomatic offensive in the Gulf region to help stabilize Iraq."
  • Sat on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations
  • Served as chairman of the Asia Society
  • Supported Hillary Clinton for president in the 2008 Democratic primaries, though he also greatly admired Barack Obama
  • When Obama won the Democratic presidential nomination, Holbrooke agreed to advise him.
  • Called the spread of H.I.V. and AIDS “the greatest problem we face today,” saying that the disease has destabilized governments and economies worldwide
  • According to political analyst Dick Morris, Holbrooke believed the War on Terror:
    “can only metaphorically be a war, like other ‘wars’ against poverty, drugs or crime. [He believes] the war against terror must be primarily a matter of law enforcement, conducted the same way we attempt, half-heartedly, to stamp out the international drug trade. To [him], a combination of global alliances and interlocking law enforcement must bring individual terror-criminals to justice, one at a time, decimating the ranks of the terror gangs just as we wiped out some of the most dangerous Colombian drug cartels. [He sees] the war on Iraq as a diversion from this essentially criminal-justice function and the disruption of our relations with Germany, Russia and France as extremely bad news for a battle against terror that must rely on police activities of these three essential nations.”
  • He passed away on Monday, December 13, 2010 from complications from surgery to repair a tear in his aorta.

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