The Cable

The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.

Holbrooke runs out the clock

Richard Holbrooke knows how to work a room. Last night, he volleyed with a fairly tough audience during an event on Afghanistan at the Council on Foreign Relations. One noteworthy part of the event was when Holbrooke, to the clear chagrin of moderator Michael Gordon, drained almost 10 minutes off of the clock by having ...

575451_091216_holbrooke2.jpg
575451_091216_holbrooke2.jpg

Richard Holbrooke knows how to work a room. Last night, he volleyed with a fairly tough audience during an event on Afghanistan at the Council on Foreign Relations.

One noteworthy part of the event was when Holbrooke, to the clear chagrin of moderator Michael Gordon, drained almost 10 minutes off of the clock by having 17 separate members of his office staff each stand and give personal introductions.

"I've never seen someone eat up time like that. He's the master," said one attendee.

Richard Holbrooke knows how to work a room. Last night, he volleyed with a fairly tough audience during an event on Afghanistan at the Council on Foreign Relations.

One noteworthy part of the event was when Holbrooke, to the clear chagrin of moderator Michael Gordon, drained almost 10 minutes off of the clock by having 17 separate members of his office staff each stand and give personal introductions.

“I’ve never seen someone eat up time like that. He’s the master,” said one attendee.

Now, maybe Holbrooke was just trying to get his staffers some much-deserved recognition and demonstrate (at length) the different issues his office has to deal with. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and help him achieve that goal. Here are the staffers who rose to the occasion, in order of their presentation:

Vikram Singh (DOD) – “I work on the issues of the defense advisor and on the very difficult issue of communications.”

Rami Shy (Treasury) – “I’m working on illicit finance issues, both by disrupting illicit finance flows and by creating an environment not conducive to illicit financing in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Vali Nasr (Tufts) – “I’m a senior advisor to Ambassador Holbrooke on Pakistan issues.”

Otto Gonzales (Ag) – “I’m the senior advisor for Agriculture from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We’re focusing on working with USAID and the U.S. military on improving agriculture sector jobs and incomes, and improving Afghans’ confidence in their government, particularly their ministry of agriculture.”

Dan Feldman (NSN) – “I’m one of two deputies to Ambassador Holbrooke. Among other things, I help to coordinate a small team focusing just on international engagement and diplomatic initiatives, in part to help make donor coordination work. I also help to oversee detainee, human rights, and other issues.”

Beth Dunford (USAID) – “I work on development and assistance issue in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Rina Amiri (U.N.) – “I’m senior advisor on Afghanistan and my primary area of focus is the political developments in Afghanistan.”

JoAnne Arzt (State) – “I work on deploying the civilians that are going to the increase in Afghanistan.”

Ashley Bommer (Perseus) – “I do his trips to the region and I also work on communications issues, as well as our new mobile products that we are introducing, with the mobile banking, mobile payments to the police, telemedicine, and our SMS program in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Derek Hogan (State) “I focus on governance … We’re trying to help the Afghan government become more visible and more accountable and responsive to the needs particularly of the subnational groups.”

(At this point, Gordon tries to cut off the roll call to get to audience questions but Holbrooke insists, “Let them finish.”

Tim List (DHS) – “Mainly I work on border management, cross-border, and customs issues.”

Rosemarie Pauli (Heinz) – “I’m the chief of staff. I do whatever needs to be done.”

Chris Reimann (FBI) – “I’m the police advisor.”

Matt Stiglitz (DOJ) – “Working on rule of law, corruption, and other related issues.”

Lt. Col. Brian Lamson (JCS) – “I work security issues.”

Mary Beth Goodman (State) – “Covering economic and energy issues for Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Paul Jones (State) – “Deputy to Ambassador Holbrooke and deputy assistant secretary of state for Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“I think that was well worth doing,” said Gordon. “And now we’re going to try to squeeze in a few questions.”

It appears that Holbrooke has used this tactic before.

GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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