Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Richard Holbrooke is dead

Richard Holbrooke, who, according to the 'Guardian', "helped bring peace to the Balkans as the chief architect of the Dayton accords .....", has died, and the eulogies are coming thick and fast. Yesterday, former US President, Bill Clinton, said, that Holbrooke "saved lives, secured peace and restored hope for countless people around the world", while Senator John Kerry called the loss of the "special Afghanistan ambassador" "almost incomprehensible", adding that his "tough-as-nails, never-quit diplomacy" saved tens of thousands of lives." Yes, their God does, indeed, work in mysterious ways and the evidence would appear to suggest that even President Obama's prayers weren't enough to save "a tireless public servant who has won the admiration of the American people and people around the world."

Then it could, of course, have been that God viewed it a bit differently and that he was prepared to let nature take its course with a man who "made millions as an investment banker on Wall Street", who helped to organise the murder of tens of thousands of innocent Vietnamese to give his "diplomatic" career a jump start and who, in 1977, helped speed up the flow of weapons to Indonesia, at a time when the Suharto regime was committing genocide in East Timor. Yes, but what about him bringing peace to the Balkans?

Well if you want to ignore the fact that the Dayton Agreement gave the Serbs, who constitute 34% of the population of Bosnia and Herzogivina, 49% of the land and a lot of that land is land where Muslims and Croats used to live, there might be a success of sorts there abeit a success which is based on ethnic cleansing and which required, if Bosnia's first ambassador to the UN, Muhamed Sacirbey, is to be believed, a secret deal with the war criminal Radovan Karadžić.

Richard Holbrooke,  when he collapsed on Friday at a meeting with  Hillary Clinton, was America's "special ambassador to Afghanistan" and  a key member of the administration's strategy team for a war in Afghanistan and Pakistan in which innocent civilians die on a daily basis. It is when we consider this that we should come to the conclusion that should there be a God, then "he", "she", "it, or "whatever" does, indeed, work in mysterious ways and although, perhaps, absurd and at the risk of some contradiction, maybe President Obama's prayers were heard to the extent that Holbrooke was allowed the luxury of dying peacefully in his bed at the age of 69  unlike the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of innocent men, women and children whose unnatural deaths he is at least partly responsible for.

At 22, Holbrooke's career at the Foreign Service began, perhaps fittingly, in Vietnam. After all, it was the disaster in Vietnam that might have and should have led to a less brutally machiavellian American foreign policy. However, neither Holbrooke, nor the other adehrents to the Washington Consensus were prepared to learn any lessons. Indeed, if anything, since 9/11 in particular, we have seen an even more aggressive implementation of a strategy that seeks to bully people into acceptance of American hegemony along with a flourishing of covert operations which are aimed at destabilising any country and government which doesn't accept that hegemony.

It is a strategy that Holbrooke always supported and it is a strategy that has cost the lives of millions of innocents. Beginning with the Phoenix Programme, Mai Lai, and the killing of entire families in Vietnam, moving on from the crimes of Suharto to the rubber stamping of an ethnic cleansing at Dayton, right up to the ongoing massacres of civilians in Afghanistan and elsewhere, Richard Holbrooke was there and when we read Senator Kerry saying that he (Holbrooke) "saved tens of thousands of lives", we might, indeed, once again scratch our heads and contemplate the ridiculous Orwellian mess that we find ourselves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Simply excellent post! Well done!