December 14, 2010

Chairman Kerry On The Passing Of Richard Holbrooke

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) tonight released the following statement on the passing of U.S. diplomat and special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke:

“This awful news is almost incomprehensible, not least of all because I cannot imagine Richard Holbrooke in anything but a state of perpetual motion. He was always working. He was always a man on a mission, the toughest mission, and that mission was waging peace through tough as nails, never quit diplomacy - and Richard's life’s work saved tens of thousands of lives.

“We loved his energy, we loved his resolve – that’s who Richard was, and he died giving everything he had to one last difficult mission for the country he loved. It is almost a bittersweet bookend that a career of public service that began trying to save a war gone wrong, now ends with a valiant effort to keep another war from going wrong.

“Teresa and I both extend our heartfelt sympathy to Richard’s family, especially his extraordinary wife Kati and Richard’s two sons, David and Anthony. 

“Our public careers were intertwined in so many ways, from Vietnam to my presidential campaign to the conflict in Afghanistan, and every step of the way he provided wise advice and intelligent guidance to presidents and statespeople alike. It is difficult to put into words how very much we will all miss our friend, and how much the nation will miss his judgment and character.

“Richard was an outsized personality who never tired of tackling the toughest challenges. But he met his match in Kati Marton. They were soul mates, a perfect pair of intellectuals whose curiosity and passion kept them involved in public service. We are all thinking of her this evening.  

“Wherever chaos and violence threatened American interests and human lives for nearly a half century, wherever there was a need for courage and insight, Richard Holbrooke showed up for duty. He spent his formative years as a young foreign service officer in Vietnam, where he worked in the Mekong Delta and then on the staffs of two American ambassadors, Maxwell Taylor and Henry Cabot Lodge. Given the storied expanse of his career, people sometimes forget that Richard wrote a volume of the Pentagon Papers, the seminal work that helped turn the course of the Vietnam War. As with all of us who served in Vietnam, Richard’s experience there informed his every judgment, and instilled in him a lifelong commitment to work to ensure that peace and diplomacy prevailed over war.   

“Richard never shied from the tough assignments, and he undertook his last one with the same determination that enabled him to - through sheer will - broker the peace agreement among the warring factions in Bosnia that resulted in the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995. He will always be remembered as a warrior for peace.”

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