Legendary Diplomat Richard Holbrooke’s Last Words: End the Afghanistan War (Update)


Veteran U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, died today at age 69 after suffering a torn aorta over the weekend. One of the world’s most recognizable diplomats, Holbrooke is best known for being the chief architect of the 1995 peace agreement that ended the Bosnian war. In his memoir, he described negotiating as “simultaneously cerebral and physical, abstract and personal, something like a combination of chess and mountain climbing.” (Here is an excellent George Packer profile of Holbrooke for The New Yorker last year.) Extraordinarily, according to the Washington Post’s obit, Holbrooke’s last words to his Pakistani surgeon were “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.”

Update: The State Department clarified that Holbrooke’s pronouncement may have actually been a bit more lighthearted. MSNBC:

Spokesperson PJ Crowley said that when the medical team told Holbrooke to relax, he responded, “I can’t relax. I’m worried about Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Crowley said that after more back-and-forth, the medical team finally said, “We’ll tell you what, we’ll try to fix this challenge while you’re undergoing surgery.” Crowley said that Holbrooke joked, “Yeah, see if you can take care of that, including ending the war.”