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The End of A Peacemaker


Ambassador Richard Holbrooke with President Hamid Karzai (file photo)

Ambassador Holbrooke epitomized great diplomacy: loving his country and its values, and using every tool at his disposal to solve problems and improve lives.

Richard Holbrooke, one of the U.S.' most seasoned and respected diplomats who served his country as peacemaker in some of the world's toughest, sometimes centuries-long conflicts, has died at the age of 69.

Ambassador Holbrooke epitomized great diplomacy: loving his country and its values, and using every tool at his disposal to solve problems and improve lives. "Diplomacy is like jazz," he liked to say, "improvisation on a theme."

Over the course of his career, his diplomatic efforts have touched nearly every country in the world. As Secretary Clinton noted shortly after his passing: "from his early days in Vietnam to his historic role bringing peace to the Balkans to his last mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Holbrooke helped shape our history, manage our perilous present, and secure our future."

In 1962, then-President John Kennedy's call for young people to serve their country inspired Richard Holbrooke, fresh out of college, to enter the U.S. Foreign Service. During the years that followed, he left his mark on nearly every continent. He began as a diplomat in Saigon during the Vietnam War; served as Peace Corps Director in Morocco, and as U.S. Ambassador to Germany. He was the only person to have held the position of Assistant Secretary of State for two different regions of the world, Asia and Europe.

In 1995, along with former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, Richard Holbrooke brokered a peace agreement among the warring factions in the Balkans that led to the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords and the end to war in Bosnia.

As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke held an unprecedented meeting of the Security Council to discuss AIDS in Africa, the first time that body had treated public health as a matter of global security.

Richard Holbrooke's most recent post was as President Barack Obama's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

President Barack Obama said, "The progress that we have made in Afghanistan and Pakistan is due in no small measure to Richard [Holbrooke's] relentless focus on America’s national interest, and pursuit of peace and security.

"There are millions of people around the world whose lives have been saved and enriched by his work. ... The United States is safer and the world is more secure because of the half century of patriotic service of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke."

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