Richard Holbrooke, Genocide Supporter and Elder Statesman of US Diplomacy, Dead at 69
Richard C. Holbrooke, lauded as an elder statesman of American diplomacy who brought peace to the Balkans as the architect of the 1995 Dayton Accords that ended the Bosnian War, has died of a rare heart condition. He was 69 years old.
A career diplomat with nearly half a century of service to the United States, Holbrooke is being hailed as a great negotiator and a “strong American voice in diplomacy and crisis,” especially in Democratic circles. His career spanned six decades: his first posting was in Vietnam during the catastrophic US war; he was Peace Corps director in Morocco, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs during the Carter administration, ambassador to Germany, Special Balkan envoy and UN ambassador for Bill Clinton, and, most recently, Special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan for Barack Obama.
Acting in that capacity, his last words before he died were “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.”
Holbrooke’s deathbed conversion is somewhat puzzling. His career, although defined by the media and Western ruling elites as that of a peacemaker, was characterized more by war than by peace. His Vietnam service coincided with the bloodiest phase of America’s war there. One escalation after another occurred, including the use of chemical and biological weapons by US forces against Vietnamese civilians.
But Holbrooke should not be blamed for any of that, he was just a junior diplomat without any real power. The same cannot be said during his tenure as President Carter’s point man in Indonesia. In the summer of 1977 Holbrooke traveled to Jakarta to meet with that country’s dictator, Suharto, during a brutal crackdown on separatists in now-independent East Timor. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians were being slaughtered with weaponry provided by ‘human rights president’ Jimmy Carter.
Holbrooke incredulously praised Suharto for improving human rights in Indonesia, even as more massacres occurred. A third of the Timorese population was killed in this, one of the century’s worst genocides. Not only did Holbrooke lie about the human rights situation in Indonesia, he also worked to stymie efforts by human rights groups and Congress to stop US military aid to Suharto.
Holbrooke’s days of supporting genocide were far from over. As President Clinton’s Balkan envoy during the bloody 1990s, he encouraged Croatian ethnic cleansing in 1995 that killed or displaced some 150,000 Serbs in Krajina during Operation Storm while condemning similar atrocities carried out by the Serbs. Later, during the Kosovo crisis, Holbrooke supported the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), an Islamic terrorist group partially funded by Osama bin Laden that was fighting to free Kosovo from Serbian rule.
Although ethnic Albanians made up the vast majority of Kosovo’s population, the province was an integral part of Serbia, considered the ancestral homeland of the Serbian people. The KLA launched a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign to rid the province of its Serbian minority. Despite horrific atrocities, the Clinton administration continued to back the KLA and even as it became clear to US intelligence that the terrorists were trying to provoke a severe Serbian response in order to draw NATO into the war.
Washington fell for it. Holbrooke personally met with Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic to deliver Washington’s ultimatum that he accept NATO occupation of any and all of Serbia or face a fierce bombing campaign. Holbrooke knew there was no way Milosevic would accept this humiliating demand. He allegedly said that “we intentionally set the bar too high for the Serbs to comply. They need some bombing, and that’s what they are going to get.”
Indeed, Holbrooke fully supported the NATO bombing campaign, a war against the people of Serbia. He praised NATO’s deliberate bombing of the headquarters of Serbian state television and radio in the middle of heavily populated downtown Belgrade as a significant victory. That attack occurred without warning while 200 staff were working in the building; the dead included a make-up artist, a cameraman, a program director, an editor, three security guards and many others. There is no doubt that this attack was meant to terrorize and demoralize the people of Serbia, but to Richard Holbrooke it was a “victory.”
Holbrooke also played a central role in President Carter’s decision to support a deadly 1980 crackdown on South Korean democracy activists in Kwangju that killed hundreds of civilians. He also supported President Bush’s premeditated invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Richard Holbrooke was no man of peace. He was a criminal who is more deserving of a trial in the Hague than the posthumous lionization he’s receiving today. But history, as we know, is written by the victors, and there are few career “diplomats” who’ve done more to serve the designs of American imperialism than Richard Holbrooke. Even neocons are lamenting his passing. That should tell you everything you need to know.
Tagged Bill Clinton, Bosnian War, Croatia, Dayton Peace Accords, East Timor, Indonesia, Kosovo Liberation Army, Krajina, Morocco, Operation Storm, Peace Corps, President Carter, President Slobodan Milosevic, Richard Holbrooke, richard holbrooke kla, richard holbrooke last words, richard holbrooke war criminal, Serbs, Suharto, United States, Vietnam, Yugoslavia