Richard Holbrooke

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Richard Holbrooke (1941-2011) a U.S. diplomat and Foreign Service Officer, was special envoy to South asia, including Afghanistan, India and Pakistan for the Obama administration. On 10 December 2010, he became ill during a U.S. State Department meeting, and died after 21 hours of surgery for a ruptured aorta. His death is a major blow to U.S. policy towards Afghanistan. [1]

In the past, he had a major role in negotiating the Dayton peace accords for the Balkans, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador to Germany, and an Assistant Secretary of State, and had been a director of the Atlantic Council.

Holbrooke is credited for inventing the term "AfPak" for the intertwined Afghanistan-Pakistan conflict, although the Obama Administration stopped using it after Pakistan objected. [2]

Europe and the Balkans

In the Clinton Administration, he was named Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs. He was the lead negotiator of 1995 Dayton peace agreement for the Balkans.

He was Ambassador to the United Nations from 1999 to 2001.

Middle years

After the Vietnam years, he spent a year as a fellow at Princeton University, and then became Peace Corps Director in Morocco.

In 1972, he resigned from the Foreign Service to become Managing Editor of the quarterly magazine Foreign Policy. He consulted, in 1974-1975, to the President's Commission on the Organization of the Government for the Conduct of Foreign Policy

In 1976, he was a foreign affairs advisor for the Carter-Mondale presidential campaign. After Carter took office, he became Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

After the Carter Administration, Holbrooke went into industry and eventually became Managing Director at Lehman Brothers.

Early career

After graduation from Brown University, he began his diplomatic career in 1962, serving in Vietnam. After language training, he was a provincial representative for the Agency for International Development (AID), and then an assistant to Ambassadors Maxwell Taylor and Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.. In 1966 he was re-assigned to the White House, working on the Vietnam staff of President Johnson under Robert Komer. In 1967-69, he wrote one volume of the Pentagon Papers, served as a special assistant to Under Secretaries of State Nicholas Katzenbach and Elliot Richardson, and simultaneously served as a member of the American Delegation to the Paris Peace Talks.


  1. Rajiv Chandrasekaran (14 December 2010), "Richard Holbrooke dies: Veteran U.S. diplomat brokered Dayton peace accords", Washington Post
  2. Jayshree Bajoria (14 December 2010), After Holbrooke, New Afghan Tests, Council on Foreign Relations