Troubleshooter is gone – Richard Holbrooke (1941-2010)

US and world diplomacy lost one of the greatest members. Richard C. Holbrooke lost his last battle, he’s heart didn’t had power to conquer this last battle with broken aorta. Half a century long career ended suddenly in a moments of preparations for new steps in Afghanistan-Pakistan mission and regular mission review with US President Barack Obama. Diplomat who served under presidents L. B. Johnson, J. Carter, B. Clinton and B. H. Obama will be remembered as “Father of Dayton Peace Agreement” which stopped Bosnian war in November 1995. 

During his career Holbrooke was named “Troubleshooter”, what shows his ability to bring peace and resolution in the most troubled regions. He started his diplomatic fight for peace in 1960’s in Vietnam, continued it in Bosnia in 1990’s, and finally in Afghanistan-Pakistan region in 2009 and 2010. The most remarkable result of his career will be Dayton Peace Agreement which stopped Bosnian war in November 1995, after a months of hardcore negotiations with all sides in Bosnian dispute. As chief negotiator and president Clinton envoy Holbrooke first forced Slobodan Milosevic to pressure Radovan Karadzic to stop fights in Bosnia, and to bring him in Dayton on talks. After two days without sleep he succeed in his mission and Dayton Peace Agreement was reached, and Bosnian war ended after almost five years of fights, more then 100,000 dead and injured people, Srebrenica massacre and several dozens of concentration camps were closed in matter of weeks.

richard holbrooke srebrenica life magazine Richard Holbrooke in Srebrenica (Photo:

In following years Richard Holbrooke remained active in Balkans as Special envoy of president Clinton and someone who worked with newly established authorities on first Bosnian peace steps in a years. He worked closely with Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina and NATO forces in bringing all sides to the table and pushed them to work together in effort to transform Bosnia and Herzegovina from battlefield to modern organized and fully functional state, but he didn’t lived long enough to see that in practice. In the past and present Holbrooke express his dissatisfaction with Dayton results and current Bosnian situation, but remained firm that Bosnian future is in hands of local politicians adding that US and EU administrations are remaining present in Balkans and ready to help in all cases.

Even if he was working on the other side of the world, in Afghanistan-Pakistan region, Holbrooke remained highly interested in Bosnia and Balkans, and as you may know I mentioned that in one of my previous articles when he said to the Fareed Zakaria that AfPak region is not Balkans and there is no Slobodan Milosevic as key negotiations player. Ambassador Holbrooke will be remembered as “Father of the Dayton Peace Agreement” and one of the US diplomatic towers. His departure is big lost for his family, friends, US Diplomacy [especially for president Obama] in a uncertain times in AfPak region, and it is great lost for all those who recognized his great effort to help those in danger. History will have a great challenge to describe his role and judge him as a person and diplomat.         

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