Many in the international community are paying tribute to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke who passed away yesterday.
Almost all of the communications are centered around his formidable stature as a lead US foreign policy diplomat. He was working hard on the Pakistan/Afghanistan fronts during these days, and will be sorely missed.
Many here in this region of the Middle East will recall Mr. Holbrooke for his tough, clear and convicting communication on the Israeli Palestinian peace issue.
Although perceived as being pro-Israel in his position, Mr. Holbrooke was not without respect for his interest in the Palestinian well-being. He believed that the international community could do more to support the humanitarian needs, that the Palestinian Authority had to rid it's self of corruption, and that the average Palestinian had to 'turn the page' on their own reality and start accepting things as they are.
He believed that in doing so, the whole of the PA, from the bottom up, would begin to breath, live, and foster productivity and it's fruits.
I recall listening to a lecture on the stalemate of the Peace process by Mr. Holbrooke, followed by question and answer.
He was unrepentant in placing the blame of President Clinton's failed efforts to negotiate a final settlement upon Mr. Yasser Arafat – who was still alive at the time.
I recall him answering a student of diplomacy by speaking of the individual responsibility of the citizen to create change for the country they live within. And that if corruption needed to be eradicated in leadership, the citizen must live by that rule to justify the removal of their elected leader via the law of that land.
In other words… we have to live what we talk.
Most of us fail in that principle – I have.
But why this memory has come to mind I suppose is that Mr. Holbrooke lived the life of a leader – and walked his talk diplomatically – sometimes even creating conflict to halt hostility as he did in Bosnia. He worked with conviction and diplomatic passion. And he got things done – big things internationally.
I hope in the smallness of my heart I can walk my talk – and be a clear communicator as Ambassador Holbrooke, and even in tough decisions, have clarity of mind to see the humanity in creating change.
Middle East Correspondent