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The True Richard Holbrooke Legacy

By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 15 December 2010

The True Richard Holbrooke Legacy - by Stephen Lendman

Dead on December 13 at age 69 after two aorta tear surgeries failed to save him, Western media headlines hailed the man London Guardian writers Ed Pilkington and Adam Gabbat called a "giant of US foreign policy," saying his loss leaves "a substantial hole to fill."

On December 13, New York Times writer Robert McFadden headlined, "Strong American Voice in Diplomacy and Crisis," saying:

"Mr. Holbrooke was hospitalized on (December 10) after becoming ill. (After two major surgeries, he) remained in very critical condition until his death....A brilliant, sometimes abrasive infighter, he used a formidable arsenal of facts, bluffs, whispers, implied threats and, when necessary, pyrotechnic fits of anger to press his positions." For good reason, he was nicknamed "The Bulldozer."

Former CIA officer, turned activist and political critic, Ray McGovern, called him a favorite Democrat party "go-to diplomat for particularly messy conflicts," like the 1990s Balkans wars and current Afghanistan/Pakistan (Af-Pak) ones "where a strong moral compass was viewed as something of a disqualifier." (He) was counted on to bulldoze through and over any ethical qualms to achieve what Washington wanted." He obliged.

Obama called him "a true giant of American foreign policy," pursuing a belligerent imperial agenda he didn't mention. Nor did major media reports, presenting their customary sanitized versions of current issues, history, and notable public figures like Holbrooke, misportrayed as heros.

His diplomatic career spanned nearly five decades, first in Vietnam as an Agency for International Development (USAID) representative, then a staff assistant to ambassadors Maxwell Taylor and Henry Cabot Lodge. Re-asssigned to the White House, he served Lyndon Johnson in the same capacity. In the late 1960s, he wrote one volume of the Pentagon Papers, and served as special assistant to Under Secretaries of State Nicholas Katzenbach and Elliot Richardson. He also was a member of the US Delegation to the Vietnam Paris Peace Talks.

In the 1970s, he was a fellow at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School, a Peace Corp Director in Morocco, managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, and National Security Affairs coordinator for the Carter/Mondale presidential campaign.

He then became Carter's Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and held other various public and private positions, including as managing director for Lehman Brothers.

Under Clinton, he was Ambassador to Germany, UN Ambassador, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, and chief architect of the 1995 Dayton Accords, ending the early 1990s Balkan wars. More on them below. He then served as Clinton's Special Envoy to Bosnia, Kosovo, and Cyprus. Most recently, he was Obama's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. More on that as well.

The Holbrooke Legacy Media Reports Won't Explain

Hailed as the architect of the 1995 Dayton Accords, ending the early 1990s Balkan wars, major media reports didn't explain how it artificially split the former Yugoslav republic in two, establishing the Federation of Bosnia/Herzegovina (the Muslim/Croat alliance) and the Serb Republic of Bosnia/Herzegovina (Republika Srpska).

Also left out was the West's economic and social assault on Yugoslavia under Slobodan Milosevic. It precipitated civil war, serving as an imperial scheme to divide, conquer, occupy and control. As a result, millions of people remain impoverished. Bosnia is a Western, largely US colony, under NATO military occupation. Its 1999 war of aggression followed. More on it below.

Diana Johnstone wrote the definitive account of the Balkan wars. Her book, "Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions," is essential reading to understand its causes and long-lasting effects. For the West, it was about deterring Milosevic's "Greater Serbia" quest, a gross mischaracterization of truth about a war Western powers wanted and initiated, notably Washington and Germany. They encouraged cessation, provoking conflict, then taking credit for ending it. In 1995, Holbrooke served as point man for round one, followed by his role again leading up to NATO's 1999 war of aggression, concluding its unfinished business.

Milosevic, an opportunistic politician, in fact, wanted Yugoslavia's disintegration prevented. When it happened, he wanted minority Serbs protected, allowed either to stay in Yugoslavia or get autonomy in the newly created rump states. Besides occupation and colonization, Johnstone believes Washington's aims included:

-- preventing a European-backed settlement;

-- "assert(ing) its dominance over European allies in the arbitration of European conflicts;" Holbrooke admitted it in his memoirs and played a key role;

-- expanding NATO through a new "out of area" humanitarian mission, aka US dominated colonization and military occupation; and

-- "gain(ing) influence in the Muslim world by championing the Bosnian Muslims."

She also called "government by international bureaucracy (a) new trend in the New World Order." Since Holbrooke's negotiated Dayton Accords:

"Bosnia-Herzegovina has been ruled by a similar combination: a complicated set of local authorities under the strict supervision of a 'High Representative' (a contemporary Proconsul or Viceroy) who can, and does, annul laws adopted by the local democratic institutions or dismiss democratically chosen officials" not in tow with America's imperial aims.

In other words, it's a dictatorship portrayed as democracy, the kind Washington disdains and won't tolerate abroad or at home, never in one of its colonies.

In his role as Dayton Accords architect, Holbrooke, in fact, helped establish colonial rule and end Yugoslavia's market socialism experiment, imposing Western-style "free market" harshness, the same type IMF measures spreading mass impoverishment in Europe and America. At the time, Newsweek called the agreement "less (for) peace....than a declaration of surrender," giving America and NATO full colonial control. Yet Holbrooke was hailed as a peace architect - ending Yugoslav sovereignty at the point of a gun.

Holbrooke's Role in NATO's 1999 Serbia/Kosovo Aggression

In October 1998, a NATO air verification mission was agreed to for Kosovo. In November, Holbrooke brokered a framework for a political settlement with Milosevic. A second Verification Mission was then established to assure compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1160 and 1199.

As Special Envoy, Holbrooke worked closely with Christopher Hill, chief negotiator of the Rambouillet Agreement, the proximate cause of the 1999 war. In January that year, senior officials of the six "Contact Group" countries (America, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy) held a London peace conference, threatening war unless Yugoslavia complied with stipulated terms. They were coming, the kind no legitimate leader could accept.

In February, Milosevic got them - the Rambouillet Accord. It was an ultimatum he couldn't accept, a take-it-or-leave-it demand to surrender Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) sovereignty to a NATO occupation force with unimpeded access to its land, airspace and territorial waters, as well as any area or facility therein. Moreover, it required the FRY to let NATO freely operate outside federal law.

It was an offer designed for rejection, giving a US-led NATO force cause to attack. It followed from March 24 - June 10, 1999, pounding the FRY mercilessly. Around 600 aircraft flew about 3,000 sorties, dropping thousands of tons of ordnance as well as hundreds of ground-launched cruise missiles. Up to then, its ferocity was unprecedented.

Nearly everything was struck, causing massive destruction and disruption, including known or suspected military sites and targets; power plants; factories; transportation; telecommunications facilities; vital infrastructure, including roads, bridges and rail lines; fuel depots; schools; a TV station; the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade; hospitals; government offices; churches; historic landmarks; and more in cities and villages throughout the country.

It was a lawless war of aggression portrayed as a humanitarian mission. Holbrooke was instrumental in launching it. It inflicted an estimated $100 billion in damage. A humanitarian disaster resulted. Environmental contamination was extensive. Large numbers were killed, injured or displaced. Two million people lost their livelihoods, many their homes and communities, and for most their futures under continuing military occupation.

Opening an avenue to Eurasia, a permanent US military presence was established, serving America's broader imperial agenda. Iraq and Afghanistan followed, again bogusly waged on humanitarian grounds.

Holbrooke helped further Washington's imperial agenda, from Vietnam to the Balkans to Afghanistan and Pakistan, his role as Special Representative from January 26, 2009 until his death.

Publicly his comments were upbeat. Privately, he was frustrated by a corrupt, inept Karzai regime, many US officials, and a conflict no combination of strategy and resources can turn around and win. Before receiving sedation for surgery, family members reportedly said his last words to his surgeon were, "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan." Perhaps it was his only sensible opinion throughout nearly five decades of public service. Too bad, no one's listening.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Holbrooke would be glad to know that the Veterans for Peace will be at the White House tomorrow demanding that the wars, occupations and crimes against the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan end now. Palestinians should also be protected from the crimes of Israeli state-terrorism. And let us not forget the suffering people of Haiti.

but forgetting requires knowing, first. We can't forget something we don't or didn't know. People interested in knowing about the real situation in the DR Congo can learn a [lot] from Keith Harmon Snow. (his older, but still available Web site)

A good place to look for copies of his older articles at his older Web site is, where the format for the text or pages is better. Copies at his older Web site are certainly readable, but they're full-width, the text stretching across the full width of your browser, making very long lines. There are some copies at, but not many. Googling these Web sites using his name and Congo for search terms should make the searches easy, unless DV has an author index page for all of his articles cross-posted there. GR has an author index for him.

Go to his Web sites and others he recommends, such as Friends of the Congo, I believe, to learn about the real situation in the DR Congo, as well as in some other African countries; the real situation that the corporate and alternative news media (most of them), plus humanitarian organizations and aid agencies wittingly and unwittingly don't report. Some organizations called humanitarian evidently have been wittingly contributing to the cover-up and use the extreme suffering of Africans, very, very many Africans, for profiting the chiefs of these organizations. Other organizations that are humanitarian don't do proper investigation and reporting, and unwittingly contribute to cover-up. USAID is most definitely part of the cover-up. It's what USAID is really for. It's an imperialist agency.

The International Tribunal for Rwanda also contributed to the cover-up and this was not unwitting. Some of the prosecutors were obstructed when, f.e., they explicitly said other government officials, like American ones, at least had to be investigated, and the heads of the tribunal rejected these justified and necessary demands.

Whenever I read or hear anyone, or read or hear about anyone speaking about what happened in Rwanda and what's been happening for a long time now in DR Congo, I double-check with what Keith Snow says. He's definitely the most reliable and informative source that I know of. And he does report about other countries in Africa; Sudan/Darfur, Ethiophia, Kenya, and others. But I think he's done or written more about DR Congo and Rwanda.

Videos for him presenting talks can also be found.

This is not about Richard Holbrooke, but is more with respect to Kosovo and what Richard Holbrooke helped to establish in this part of the world.

One thing Stephen Lendman's article doesn't mention is who the US and NATO put in power in Kosovo, the gangster, organized crime, murderous, international drug trafficking, terrorist KLA, and the following is a new related article.

"Kosovo PM is head of human organ and arms ring, Council of Europe reports

Two-year inquiry accuses Albanian 'mafia-like' crime network of killing Serb prisoners for their kidneys"

by Paul Lewis, Dec. 14, 2010

These are just the kind of people Washington elites and the top ruling class of imperialists of the US or West love.

Plenty or many related articles can be found at, though it might be easier to use the Countries index linked down the left-hand-side of the home page, beneath the search box, and then select the index for Serbia. Based on the author, the following article should be very good.

"Opening a Pandora's Box: Kosovo "Independence" and the Project for a "New Middle East""

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Feb. 19, 2008

There are plenty of other articles. To find those at GR that are about or in part about Hashim Thaci, it is probably easier to find them by Googling using his name for search term. There have been other important articles about the war of aggression on Kosovo, Yugoslavia and the earlier Balkans war, which was primarily or else very much due to the US and its allies. There are articles about the latter topic at GR and Scott Taylor's Web site, He also has a couple of articles about Kosovo at GR and is a former CAF, Canadian Armed Forces soldier, who started his Web site, which is said to be Canada's top military magazine, in 1987, I believe. He went to the Balkans during the war there to do reporting on it and initially thought the West was right, but he learned that the contrary was true.

That's no surprise. Since when is the US and NATO right about war? [Never.] He went to Kosovo following the 1999 war of aggression lead by the US there.

Stephen Lendman calls that a NATO war of aggression and it was, but it was lead by Washington; again. NATO doesn't lead the US. The US leads NATO. The UNSC doesn't lead the US. The US dominates and when the others disagree with Washington plans, then Washington acts unilaterally and then forms a coalition of the coerced. NATO joins in for profit and whatever it'll get for a share in imperial glory later described in history books according to Western story designs, story-telling, selling fiction as non-fiction.

"Yugoslavia: How Holbrooke Lied His Way into a War"
by Sam Husseini, Dec. 15, 2010

This is an article originally published in December 9, 2008, (linked) while Holbrooke was being considered for the position he held in the Obama administration.

Shortly before the bombing of Yugoslavia began in late March 1999, Richard Holbrooke met with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. By his own account, Holbrooke delivered the final ultimatum to Milosevic -- that if Yugoslavia didn't agree to the Rambouillet text, NATO would begin bombing.

The Rambouillet text called for a de facto occupation of Yugoslavia. On major U.S. media, after the bombing of Yugoslavia began, Holbrooke claimed that what was called for in the Rambouillet text, despite Serbian protests, "isn't an occupation". Several weeks later, when confronted by a journalist familiar with the Rambouillet text, Holbrooke claimed: "I never said that". This was a lie, it was also a tacit admission that the Rambouillet text did call for an occupation (why else would Holbrooke deny saying it when he had?) So the U.S. demanded that Yugoslavia submit to occupation or be bombed -- and Holbrooke lied about this crucial fact when questioned about the cause of the war.

Here are the specifics:The Rambouillet text (linked) of Feb. 23, 1999, a month before NATO began bombing, contained provisions that provided for NATO to basically occupy the entire Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), not just Kosovo. Excerpts from Appendix (B) (I attempted to draw attention to this at the time when I became aware of it. (linked)):

7. NATO personnel shall be immune from any form of arrest, investigation, or detention by the authorities in the FRY.

8. NATO personnel shall enjoy... free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY including associated airspace and territorial waters.

11. NATO is granted the use of airports, roads, rails and ports without payment...

15. [NATO shall have] the right to use all of the electromagnetic spectrum...

On April 6, 1999, about two weeks after the bombing began, Holbrooke appeared on the Charlie Rose show and was asked about what started the war. (Video is here, (linked) approximate times in the interview are provided):

[3:45] "The 81 pages of the Rambouillet agreement, which the Serbs rejected, contain all the elements of a really solid interim solution. ... Although Rambouillet itself was rejected, the principles embodied in the Rambouillet agreement make a hell of a lot of sense. ..."

[13:00] "The [Yugoslavian government] decision was to trigger the bombing of their own country instead of accepting this very reasonable political offer." ...

[14:00] Asked how to explain the actions of the Serbs, Holbrooke claims the Serbs said: "The choice you've given us is to have our sacred soil violated by an invading force. I said this isn't an invasion, it isn't an occupation, it's an international peacekeeping force that will save the Serb minority in Kosovo. ..."

[15:00] "We walked the last mile for peace."

[17:00] "The bombing must continue and must intensify until the Yugoslav leadership realizes they have to change their positions."

On April 23, 1999, journalist Jeremy Scahill of Democracy Now questioned Richard Holbrooke as he was leaving the Overseas Press Club's 60th anniversary dinner:

Holbrooke: "One question."

Jeremy Scahill: "You've said, since you gave the ultimatum to President Milosevic, that the Rambouillet accords do not call for the occupation of Yugoslavia. In --"

Holbrooke: "I never said that. That's the end of that. You got the wrong person and the wrong quote. That's your question."

Scahill: "Do the Rambouillet accords ... Are the the Rambouillet accords a call for the occupation of Yugoslavia -- how do you reconcile that with Appendix B?"

Holbrooke: "I was not at Rambouillet. You'll have to address it to the people --"

Scahill: "You delivered the ultimatum, you're familiar with with the text --"

Holbrooke: "I did not discuss that detail with him. That's your question."

Scahill: "You haven't answered the question though."

Holbrooke: "I have answered the question. Good night." (See the April 23, 1999 Democracy Now, especially beginning at 29:00. (linked))

It's tempting for many to think that the current Bush administration and the 2003 invasion of Iraq are totally unique. They're not, the methods of the U.S. government lying its way into a war are long standing and many of the culprits are still very much part of the political structure.

The links are all still valid and the video for the Charlie Rose interview with Richard Holbrooke is roughly 34 minutes long.

And Sam Husseini was communications director for IPA, Institute for Public Accuracy, in 1999, btw.

"America's Special Envoy: What the Establishment Media Won’t Tell You About Richard Holbrooke"

by Max Kantar, Dec. 15, 2010

He begins by citing TIME magazine, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, and the Washington Post now praising Richard Holbrooke, saying how great he supposedly was, when he clearly was far from great; a serious war criminal. Then he goes on to provide historical truths about Richard Holbrooke's years related to wars starting in the 1960s. I quickly read over some of the short article and it provides information that others posted here and the others I've provided links for don't say.

There is much here i did not know but surmised from incessant lying us into illegal invasions and illegal occupations.
i'd like to know about the military bases we have there... and what US Corporations are making a killing over there.
I never understood all the inter relationships between Albania a Red Chinese satellite country - completely shuttered and the Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
The strain of White Supremacy that existed and exists there is incomprehensible. There were competitions between the death camps in the Slovakian Balkan states and those of Nazi Death Camps of WWII for instance Auschwitz.
The inhumanity of Milosevic and his henchmen was all we saw and clearly won American public support.
To bad Wikileaks wasn't there --- we might not be so bad off today had the secrets been exposed then to the masses.

Thanks to all who posted, i learned a great deal


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