Madam Secretary

Clinton mourns Richard Holbrooke, one of America’s ‘fiercest champions’

Clinton mourns Richard Holbrooke, one of America’s ‘fiercest champions’

Upon the passing yesterday of Richard Holbrooke — U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Foreign Policy editor from 1972 to 1977, and chief architect of the 1995 Dayton Accords — Secretary Clinton mourned him as one of America’s "fiercest champions and most dedicated public servants." In a statement, she described him as a "consummate diplomat, able to stare down dictators and stand up for America’s interests and values even under the most difficult circumstances."

It’s so hard to believe he’s no longer here. Just two weeks ago, on Nov. 30 at our Global Thinkers gala, FP paid a special tribute to Holbrooke for his many contributions to foreign policy — and Foreign Policy. (The video of his remarks is below, followed by Clinton’s complete statement upon his passing.)

Holbrooke’s death leaves a huge hole in the United States’ strategy regarding the Afghanistan war. A Washington Post article today reports:

Holbrooke’s death is the latest complication in an effort plagued by unreliable partners, reluctant allies and an increasingly skeptical American public.… As the glue that held the enterprise together, his absence is likely to increase the already formidable challenge the administration faces.

Clinton’s complete statement:

Tonight America has lost one of its fiercest champions and most dedicated public servants. Richard Holbrooke served the country he loved for nearly half a century, representing the United States in far-flung war-zones and high-level peace talks, always with distinctive brilliance and unmatched determination. He was one of a kind — a true statesman — and that makes his passing all the more painful.

From his early days in Vietnam to his historic role bringing peace to the Balkans to his last mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard helped shape our history, manage our perilous present, and secure our future. He was the consummate diplomat, able to stare down dictators and stand up for America’s interests and values even under the most difficult circumstances. He served at every level of the Foreign Service and beyond, helping mentor generations of talented officers and future ambassadors. Few people have ever left a larger mark on the State Department or our country. From Southeast Asia to post-Cold War Europe and around the globe, people have a better chance of a peaceful future because of Richard’s lifetime of service.

I had the privilege to know Richard for many years and to call him a friend, colleague and confidante. As Secretary of State, I have counted on his advice and relied on his leadership. This is a sad day for me, for the State Department and for the United States of America.

True to form, Richard was a fighter to the end. His doctors marveled at his strength and his willpower, but to his friends, that was just Richard being Richard. I am grateful for the tireless efforts of all the medical staff, and to everyone who sat by his side or wished him well in these final days.

Tonight my thoughts and prayers are with Richard’s beloved wife Kati, his sons David and Anthony, his step-children Elizabeth and Chris Jennings, his daughter-in-law Sarah, and all of his countless friends and colleagues.