In December, 2010 I thought that Richard Holbrooke was dead with a stake through his treacherous heart, never to be resurrected or rehabilitated. I was wrong. The New York Times reports that “The Diplomat”, a documentary, premieres today [April 23] at the Tribeca Film Festival. The documentary directed by his son David documents his father’s plan “to strike a bargain with the Taliban and Afghanistan’s meddlesome neighbors, including Iran and Pakistan” contrary to the Obama Administration’s stated policy. What a perfidious bastard, even in death.
Upon his death Holbrooke, a founding member of the Grateful Dead Diplomats Society, was promptly canonized by the Establishment with the media even suggesting a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize. The eulogies were full of hyperbole calling his role on the world stage “larger than life”. The pomp and circumstance surrounding his death made him a messianic, bold, 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 tragedies, not in Shakespeare’s comedy.
Holbrooke’s legacy is the false bright and shining beacon of America’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 they detailed.
Do not forget that the man’s public service career and his short stints in the private sector spanning 50 years involved him with America’s every conflict and subsequent defeat and humiliation. He participated in every failed attempt at diplomacy from Vietnam to Afghanistan, with stops in Bosnia, Kosovo and Cyprus 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 in his Machiavellian intrigues.
Holbrooke denied having made a deal with Bosnia’s Radovan Karadzic to withdraw from politics in return for a “get out of jail free card” and no prosecution. But his denial was flatly refuted by Bosnia’s Muslim Foreign Minister, Karadzic’s arch enemy, Muhamed Sacirbey. His denial had been flatly refuted as well by Momcilo Krajisnik, Republica Srpska’s Parliamentary President as well as others.
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 resulted in 250,000 Serb refugees, destined to be strangers in a strange land, far greater than Kosovo’s Albanians who returned to their homes - all this in direct contravention of United Nations’ sanctions and embargoes and in violation of US criminal laws; so much for abiding by international law. Holbrooke did so only when it suited his purposes.
His performance while 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 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’ 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 during his watch engaged in wildly speculative credit default insurance schemes that precipitated the financial crisis. 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 which 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 with 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 principled 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.
Now even that story line is proven false. He was planning to double cross President Obama, his boss, and sabotage the Administration’s Afghanistan policy and recorded his intent to do so in a secret audio diary now made public. He publicly supported the flawed and morally compromised General David Petraeus and his counterinsurgency policy while privately recording “Frankly, I just don’t believe him”. Duplicity, thy name is Holbrooke.
History is about to be re-written resurrecting and rehabilitating Richard Holbrooke as an “honorable man”. Back in 2010 I welcomed his passing comforted by the fact that there was one less malignant diplomatic fraud running amuck, feathering his financial nest, wreaking havoc on the world. Today I damn his posthumous return and resurrection.