Calling [Ambassador Richard ] Holbrooke’s appointment [ as US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan ] “an exciting moment for the peace movement, because it’s possible diplomacy will be the first step” to respond to the “spiraling crisis” in Afghanistan, Judith LeBlanc, organizing coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, said it shows the importance the administration is placing on diplomacy.
Democracy Now’s Jeremy Scahill recently wrote of Richard Holbrooke:
“Like Albright, Holbrooke will have major sway over U.S. policy, whether or not he gets an official job. A career diplomat since the Vietnam War, Holbrooke’s most recent government post was as President Clinton’s ambassador to the U.N. Among the many violent policies he helped implement and enforce was the U.S.-backed Indonesian genocide in East Timor. Holbrooke was an Assistant Secretary of State in the late 1970s at the height of the slaughter and was the point man on East Timor for the Carter Administration.
According to Brad Simpson, director of the Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University, “It was Holbrooke and Zbigniew Brzezinski , both now leading lights in the Democratic Party, who played point in trying to frustrate the efforts of congressional human-rights activists to try and condition or stop U.S. military assistance to Indonesia, and in fact accelerated the flow of weapons to Indonesia at the height of the genocide.”
Holbrooke, too, was a major player in the dismantling of Yugoslavia and praised the bombing of Serb Television, which killed 16 media workers, as a significant victory. (The man who ordered that bombing, now-retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, is another Obama foreign policy insider who could end up in his cabinet. While Clark is known for being relatively progressive on social issues, as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, he ordered bombings and attacks that Amnesty International labeled war crimes.)
Like many in Obama’s foreign policy circle, Holbrooke also supported the Iraq war. In early 2003, shortly after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech to the UN, where he presented the administration’s fraud-laden case for war to the UN (a speech Powell has since called a “blot” on his reputation), Holbrooke said: “It was a masterful job of diplomacy by Colin Powell and his colleagues, and it does not require a second vote to go to war. Saddam is the most dangerous government leader in the world today, he poses a threat to the region, he could pose a larger threat if he got weapons of mass destruction deployed, and we have a legitimate right to take action.”
Editor’s Note: A final point about Holbrooke’s diplomacy: Famously, in 1999 Holbrooke presented the NATO ultimatum to Serbian president Milosevic to agree to the Rambouillet document or face immediate bombing. What was the Rambouilet document ? A demand for NATO to occupy all of Serbia. According to no less an authority on imperialism than Henry Kissinger, “The Rambouillet text, which called on Serbia to admit NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia, was a provocation, an excuse to start bombing.”