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Wed Jan 2, 2013, 11:47 PM

Kerrying On Legacy Of Richard Holbrooke

Michael Hastings ‏@mmhastings
Fascinating/smart story by @RosieGray on how Sen. John Kerry could carry on the legacy of Richard Holbrooke at State

The new Secretary of State could make his mark on Afghanistan and Pakistan. “Kindred spirits,” says the diplomat's widow.

Senator John Kerry will arrive in Foggy Bottom later this winter with a particular challenge: Carving out an agenda of his own, something to own apart from the simple administration of the State Department, and something beyond merely implementing Barack Obama’s will.

People close to Kerry’s late friend and rival for pre-eminence in American foreign policy, Richard Holbrooke, have a suggestion: The mantle of Afghan peacemaking that Holbrooke let slip when he died suddenly on the job in December of 2010. Though the two men are different in personality, both are fundamentally deal-makers, and AfPak, as it’s called, is one of the great deals of the era. Holbrooke’s dream was a negotiated peace that drew in India, Pakistan, the Taliban, and Hamid Karzai’s Afghan government, tamped down militancy, and brought stability. Kerry, many of the people closest to Holbrooke say, could deliver it.

Holbrooke and Kerry were “kindred spirits,” Holbrooke’s widow, the writer Kati Marton, told BuzzFeed. The diplomat “did his utmost to get Senator Kerry involved in the Mission Impossible that was his job in the Obama administration, and he and Kerry worked very closely, very collaboratively and spent a great deal of time on the telephone when Richard was in the region in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” she said . . .

Marton suggested that Holbrooke saw Kerry as a close ally during his sometimes tense relationship with the administration during his tenure. The two men had known each other for decades, and Holbrooke was said to be on Kerry’s shortlist for Secretary of State if the latter had won the presidency in 2004. There’s also, another top former U.S. official pointed out, a symmetry in their careers that makes AfPak an obvious destination: Kerry and Holbrooke were both shaped by the Vietnam years, which Holbrooke eventually came to compare to the war in Afghanistan. Kerry came to politics urging American withdrawal from that war, and there’s a logic to his capping his political career by leading the American withdrawal from another one.

Kerry, whose relationship with President Obama is perceived as much warmer than Holbrooke’s, is “certainly very familiar with Richard’s thinking,” Marton said . . .

read article: http://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/holbrooke-allies-look-hopefully-to-john-kerry

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