Mourning Ambassador Richard Holbrooke

December 14, 2010 By Melissa Silverman

This morning the USGLC joins the diplomatic community in mourning the passing of Richard Holbrooke.  The world has lost a powerful peacemaker in Holbrooke, who helped shape American foreign policy for decades.  He is perhaps best known for his work on the Dayton Peace Accords in the Balkans, signed 15 years ago today.  President Obama said Ambassador Holbrooke was “a true giant of American foreign policy who has made America stronger, safer and more respected. He was a truly unique figure who will be remembered for his tireless diplomacy, love of country and pursuit of peace.”  Serving as the President’s Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Ambassador Holbrooke famously coined the term “Af-Pak” and was part of a high-level strategic review of the war in Afghanistan expected this week, one that we expect will highlight the importance of civilian-military cooperation.

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Who’s in the News

Holbrooke’s death leaves void in war strategy (Karen DeYoung  – Washington Post)

The death of Richard C. Holbrooke, who directed the civilian side of the war in Afghanistan, leaves a major void in what has always been the most difficult and vulnerable aspect of President Obama’s strategy.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Obama to roll out Afghanistan review (Sam Youngman – The Hill)

The White House plans Thursday to publish the findings of a year-end review of the Obama administration’s Afghanistan strategy, followed by remarks from the president. The review will be discussed in President Obama’s monthly Afghanistan-Pakistan meeting, which will be held Tuesday in the White House Situation Room.

Senate vote on tax package gives shot in arm to START treaty ratification (Alexander Bolton – The Hill)

Passage of the $858 billion tax package by the middle of this week could pave the way for the Senate to vote on ratifying the New START nuclear treaty by Christmas, the aides said. The treaty is hugely important to the White House and would represent an important domestic and foreign policy victory for Obama if it were to be approved in this Congress. Senate Republicans have vowed to not move any legislation until a tax package is approved along with a measure to keep the government funded. But the tax package received a huge shot of momentum Monday when the Senate overwhelmingly voted to proceed to that bill. A senior Democratic aide said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would likely bring START to the Senate floor by Thursday and put it on a parallel tracks with spending legislation.

Gates to the rescue in Afghanistan ( Kori Schake – Foreign Policy Magazine)

Over the weekend, the Obama administration concluded its Afghanistan policy review, formally committing to prosecute the war until Afghan security forces are competent to undertake the work done by U.S. and allied forces. Control of operations will gradually transition to Afghan security forces as military commanders determine them capable of managing the fight. The year 2014 is aspired to by the Afghan and force providing governments as the date at which such transition would be complete, although the commander in Afghanistan is hesitant to pledge unequivocally that can be met.

Killings of Afghan Relief Workers Stir Strategy Debate (Rob Nordland – New York Times)

At least 100 relief workers in Afghanistan have been killed so far this year, far more than in any previous year, prompting a debate within humanitarian organizations about whether American military strategy is putting them and the Afghans they serve at unnecessary risk. Most of the victims worked for aid contractors employed by NATO countries, with fewer victims among traditional nonprofit aid groups.

The difference in the body counts of the two groups is at the heart of a question troubling the aid community: Has American counterinsurgency strategy militarized the delivery of aid?

The Stories You Missed In 2010 (Joshua Keating – Foreign Policy Magazine)

Ten events and trends that were overlooked this year, but may be leading the headlines in 2011.