Richard Holbrooke is a very great loss to American foreign policy. We might have wished another vital decade or more from him. He is a loss for all the reasons Hilary Clinton states below, and all the obituaries will detail, but he is a loss in another way, too, so far unspoken. He is a loss to American liberalism. Over decades in which liberals – proponents of a more enlightened international role for the United States, with a commitment to participation in an international community and to the development of global justice – had lost the ability to be simultaneously, unashamedly forceful in pursuit of American interests, Holbrooke was committed to all those ends, yet as tough as they come. In every encounter I ever witnessed between him and the well-known representatives of the contemporary Republican foreign policy establishment, he was smarter, shrewder, and more implacable in pursuit of his goals – simply larger than any of them. A man of liberal ideals with a clear vision of the real world, there is no apparent replacement for him.
Tonight America has lost one of its fiercest champions and most dedicated public servants. Richard Holbrooke served the country he loved for nearly half a century, representing the United States in far-flung war-zones and high-level peace talks, always with distinctive brilliance and unmatched determination. He was one of a kind — a true statesman — and that makes his passing all the more painful.
From his early days in Vietnam to his historic role bringing peace to the Balkans to his last mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard helped shape our history, manage our perilous present, and secure our future. He was the consummate diplomat, able to stare down dictators and stand up for America’s interests and values even under the most difficult circumstances. He served at every level of the Foreign Service and beyond, helping mentor generations of talented officers and future ambassadors. Few people have ever left a larger mark on the State Department or our country. From Southeast Asia to post-Cold War Europe and around the globe, people have a better chance of a peaceful future because of Richard’s lifetime of service.
I had the privilege to know Richard for many years and to call him a friend, colleague and confidante. As Secretary of State, I have counted on his advice and relied on his leadership. This is a sad day for me, for the State Department and for the United States of America.
True to form, Richard was a fighter to the end. His doctors marveled at his strength and his willpower, but to his friends, that was just Richard being Richard. I am grateful for the tireless efforts of all the medical staff, and to everyone who sat by his side or wished him well in these final days.
Tonight my thoughts and prayers are with Richard’s beloved wife Kati, his sons David and Anthony, his step-children Elizabeth and Chris Jennings, his daughter-in-law Sarah, and all of his countless friends and colleagues.
- Richard Holbrooke, veteran diplomat, dies (jta.org)
- Obama pays tribute to Richard Holbrooke (bbc.co.uk)
- US mourns Holbrooke, the ‘warrior for peace’ (alternet.org)
- Jacob Heilbrunn: The Greatness of Richard Holbrooke (huffingtonpost.com)
- Richard Holbrooke Passes Away At Age 69 (lezgetreal.com)
- Richard Holbrooke has died (dailykos.com)
- Diplomat Richard Holbrooke dies at 69 (thejc.com)
- Senior US diplomat Richard Holbrooke dies (independent.co.uk)
- Reaction to the death of Richard Holbrooke – CNN International (news.google.com)
- A Dominant Diplomatic Force (thedailybeast.com)
- Richard Holbrooke, American Diplomat, Is Dead at 69 (politicsdaily.com)
- U.S. Diplomat Richard Holbrooke Dies at 69 (time.com)