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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 21, 2010 / 14 Teves, 5771

The Talented Mr. Holbrooke

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There is so much to be said about Richard Holbrooke, the American diplomat and dynamo who died last week, that it's hard to know where to start. Or stop. One is as hard as the other. He was that kind of character.

They say he will be missed. And how. He was no genius, but he began with a native intelligence and then, through education and experience and mainly energy, honed it into the kind of temperament that effective negotiators bring to the table, and effective people maybe to life.

Let's just say Dick Holbrooke wasn't much of one for hazy abstractions. He preferred to get things done. You'd never catch him repeating Wilsonian simplifications about how one great idea or even 14 of them, as in the Fourteen Points, would one day save the world. Freedom! National self-determination! The League of Nations! Hope! Change! Audacity! Name your own favorite panacea. The talented Mr. Holbrooke left that sort of thing to all the Great Simplifiers of the world.

Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke understood that the world was a complicated place, and slogans no substitute for sweat, patience, perseverance and good cheer. Not that he couldn't jazz up an idea when he needed to sell it, but he wasn't about to swallow it whole, the way the ignorant do cherries, pit and all.

How to describe the man's cast of mind? Maybe it's the peripheral details, the tangential aspects of his powerful personality, the feistiness and impatience as well as the perseverance, that say most about him.

Let it be noted that he didn't suffer fools. Except when he had to in order to make peace, and then he gave them only enough slack to hang themselves. See the case of Serbia's homicidal dictator, the late and unlamented Slobodan Milosevic.

Being a fool was the least of Slobo's faults. In the end he was undone by the peace agreement Ambassador Holbrooke finally managed to craft between Serbs, Croats and Muslims in the 1990s. At one time they may have been Yugoslavs in name, but never in soul.

When there was no more patched-together Yugoslavia under Marshal Tito's savvy rule, there was no more co-existence, either. And so Richard Holbrooke had to step into the vacuum and fashion the Dayton Accords, his signature achievement. The eventual result was not only freedom for a new country like Kosovo but for an old one -- a Serbia freed from Slobodan Milosevic's bloody grip.

Here's what distinguished Mr. Holbrooke's diplomacy: its recognition that more than diplomacy is needed to make peace. Sometimes it takes a war. It took Richard Holbrooke an excruciatingly long time to convince his superiors in the Clinton administration -- we use the term only in its technical sense -- that nothing short of an air war, with or without the United Nations, would finally end the slaughter on the ground. It did.

The tragedy was that his advice was studiously ignored for two years and more while the killing proceeded. Once the bombing commenced, the path to peace was open. And he exploited that path the way a grandmaster exploits an opening on the chessboard, pushing pawn after pawn forward. Till checkmate.

Whatever the U.N.'s "peace" keepers had provided in the Balkans, it wasn't peace. They not only failed to stop the violence there; their dithering encouraged it. Perhaps the worst massacre of those bloody times -- at Srebrenica -- took place under the never-watchful eye of the U.N.'s Kofi Annan, who could scarcely touch an international crisis without making it worse. Much worse.

Whether it was "ethnic cleansing" in the Balkans or genocide in Rwanda, he was the U.N.'s useless man on the scene, and could be counted on to aid and abet the worst crimes of his time by his silence. Richard Holbrooke was anything but silent; he was always on the phone, pressing, pressing, pressing for action. Yet he had a sure knack for negotiation, too, once American power had set the scene for diplomatic success.

Mr. Holbrooke would have made a fine, or at least intriguing, secretary of state, for he was anything but a placeholder. He believed in actually doing things, or at least attempting to do them. He even had the good sense now and then to let intractable dogs lie rather than stir them up for no good purpose and then pretend he was accomplishing something. (See current American policy in the Middle East, for example.) But he was passed over for the No. 1 job at State in favor of one mediocrity after another. Remember Warren Christopher? Madeleine Albright? And why should you? Both served as secretary of state at one time or another, but without leaving a trace.

Bill Clinton always did have an aversion to quality when it came to making the highest appointments. He was no more going to make Richard Holbrooke secretary of state than put a Richard S. Arnold -- the finest appellate judge of his era -- on the Supreme Court of the United States. And there was something about a talent as brazen as Dick Holbrooke's that almost seemed to offend our 42nd president.

Bill Clinton was always more at home with nonentities. Why? Because they would never upstage him? Because a talent that shines also irritates? Your guess is as good as mine. For whatever reason, Richard Holbrooke would never be secretary of state, much as he would have loved to be. He shared that much with Bill Clinton: great ambition.

Mr. Holbrooke should have been used to being passed over. After majoring in history (of course) at Brown and editing the student newspaper, he'd been passed over by The New York Times for a reporting job. He settled for the foreign service instead. But he remained something of a newshound, always wanting to be where the action was. However many honorary degrees and prestigious titles he collected, there was always the zest of the amateur about Dick Holbrooke -- that is, someone who pursues his vocation for the love of it. Which may have been why he had it all over the professional paper-pushers at well-named Foggy Bottom.

Distinguished diplomat or not, Richard Holbrooke loved to jaw with the press. At one of those seminars for editorial writers at the State Department, which the top brass can never find time to attend, Mr. Holbrooke was there and talking. A friend who was present remembers that he didn't just give a speech but went around the conference table chatting with each editorial writer in turn. With him, discretion took second place to communication. Maybe because he was one of those all too rare diplomats who understand that diplomacy needn't -- indeed, shouldn't -- be conducted only with other diplomats. He wasn't just a diplomat, but a politician--with a zest for office politics, too, though he was never as good at it as he may have thought. Or he would have been secretary of state.

A diplomat needs to negotiate with the public, too, especially in a democracy. And the best way to do that tends to be through the press. He may have despised us, or at least some of us, and with good reason, but Dick Holbrooke never snubbed us. He had the sense to understand that, though he may not have much liked the always meddlesome media, we could be useful in his twin causes, America's national interest and the peace of the world. They tend to be intertwined. And he did more than his share for both.

It should have come as no surprise that Richard Holbrooke would wear out at 69. But between a longer life and another crack at the action, there is no doubt which choice he would have made. He always wanted to be in on the game, more interested in living a full life than just a long one. The country was fortunate to have had him as long as we did.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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