Richard Holbrooke, a founding member of the Dead Diplomats Society, passed away yesterday. The Establishment and the media promptly canonized him and suggested a posthumous Nobel Prize. The eulogies are fraught with hyperbole calling his role on the world stage “larger than life”. The pomp and circumstance surrounding his death make him a messianic, bold and courageous envoy of peace and stability. What pure and unadulterated bullshit. “Much Ado About Nothing”, say I, except his role was in the world’s sad tragedies, not Shakespeare’s light comedy.
Holdbrooke was the false bright and shining beacon of
’s failed diplomatic and economic disasters. His life was nothing but “A Bright Shining Lie”, starting with his service in Vietnam in 1962. He went on to Lyndon Johnson’s White House were he wrote a volume of the Pentagon Papers, but didn’t do a damn thing about the lies, deception and corruption that embroiled that war. America
This man’s career spanning 50 years, in public service as well as substantial stints in the private sector, involved him with every conflict and with every subsequent defeat and humiliation. He participated in every failed attempt at diplomacy from
to Vietnam , with stops in Afghanistan , Kosovo and Bosnia along the way. His diplomatic efforts lacked a moral compass. He saw no shame in dealing with dictators, despots and corrupt politicians and actively supported their financing at the tax payers’ expense. He expressed outrage only after the corrupt official was of no longer use to his Machiavellian intrigues. Cyprus
Holbrooke denied having made a deal with
’s Radovan Karadzic: withdraw from politics in return for a “get out of jail card” and no prosecution. But his denial was flatly refuted by Bosnia ’s Muslim Foreign Minister, Karadzic’s arch enemy, Muhamed Sacirbey. His denial has been further refuted by Momcilo Krajisnik, Republica Srpska’s Parliamentary President, who was present when the deal was struck, and who personally recounted the encounter to me. Bosnia
He, along with that other unprincipled eminence grise, Zbigniew Brezinski, facilitated the delivery of arms to Indonesia and supported Suharto’s brutal counterinsurgency which resulted in tens of thousands of deaths of East Timor dissidents. Likewise he supported Croatia’s “Operation Storm” which ultimately resulted in 250,000 displaced Serb refugees, destined to be strangers in a strange land, far greater than Kosovo’s Albanians who ultimately returned to their homes. All this in direct contravention of United Nations’ sanctions and embargoes and in violation of US domestic penal statutes. So much for abiding by international law. Holbrooke did so only when it suited his purposes.
His performance in the private sector was far from stellar. The financial institutions he was associated with skirted and openly flaunted the law. He was not passive but a proactive participant. He started as a Senior Advisor, then Managing Director, of Lehman Brothers, the financial behemoth that ultimately made the largest bankruptcy filing in US history in 2008. Lehman was the firm embroiled in the sub prime mortgage mess and one of the firms that settled with the
SEC and New York’s Attorney General for $1.4 billion in 2005. From 2001 to 2008 he was on the Board of Directors of American International Group, “AIG” the failed and flawed insurance giant that engaged in wildly speculative credit default insurance schemes during his watch that precipitated today’s recession. Those schemes have cost the American taxpayers millions if not billions of dollars to date. And, lest we forget, he was Vice Chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston that reached a settlement with the Government for violations of sanctions regulations for financial transactions with Iran and paid a $536 million fine in 2009. So much for his financial rectitude.
The least said about his three marriages and his adulterous liaisons, Diane Sawyer amongst others, the better. So much for his moral compass.
His last post, as President Obama’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, was another moral debacle. He allowed the flawed elections of Hamid Karzai to stand, while other more upright diplomats were given the sack for denouncing them. He allowed graft, corruption and a flourishing narcotic state to flourish all in the name of nation building. Damn the torpedoes, the millions of dollars and American lives lost, full speed ahead.
I do not regret his passing. But I am comforted by the fact that there is one less malignant diplomatic fraud running amuck, feathering his financial nest, wreaking havoc on the world. Thank God and God speed, Richard Holbrooke, wherever you are!