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February 7, 2009

Richard Holbrooke? I Was Thinking John Wayne.

Holbrooke tank.jpg

“You have a problem that is larger than life,” said Christopher R. Hill, a longtime colleague expected to be named as the new ambassador to Iraq. “To deal with it you need someone who’s larger than life.” — from: Back on World Stage, a Larger-Than-Life Holbrooke (NYT)

This morning’s NYT piece by Jodi Kantor features this image of new envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke. The photo was taken in 2006 and has got to be the companion to another picture she references:

Stashed in a drawer in his Manhattan apartment between snapshots of family vacations, a photograph shows Richard C. Holbrooke on a private visit to Afghanistan in 2006. He is mugging atop an abandoned Russian tank, flashing a sardonic V-for-victory sign and his best Nixon-style grin. The pose is a little like Mr. Holbrooke himself: looming, theatrical, passionate, indignant.

The Nixon analogy unleashed some unusual associations of my own. Besides Holbrooke’s wife framed between his legs (reminding me a bit of Katie Couric), I imagined Castro, and then Ahmadinejad (with the beard and sunglasses) also underfoot. (Now, what to make of the Russian tank?)

Given the scope of our Afghanistan and Pakistan problems, I hope Hill is right and this visual characterization of RH as the über
diplomat and Obama-era rock star equates to that much more leverage.

(image: Richard Holbrooke. caption: In a familiar scene, Richard Holbrooke stood on a tank in Herat, Afghanistan, in 2006 above his wife, Kati Marton.)

  • cenoxo

    When you’re gonna beat them wild In-j, er, In-surgents way out on the Eastern Frontier (where them lily-livered, parfumed Russkies failed), a man’s gotta be ridin’ tall in the saddle…

    …and packin’ as much lever-action as he can afford.
    Git ‘er done, Dick!

  • jtfromBC

    I’m the king of the castle,
    You’re the dirty rascal.
    I’m the king of the castle,
    Get down, you dirty rascal!

  • yg

    scott ritter had a scathing critique of holbrooke that kind of matches the suggestion made in the photo.

  • cenoxo

    This recent one from TruthDig, perhaps? Richard Holbrooke Is The Wrong Man For The Job by Scott Ritter:

    …The least productive option America could pursue [in Afghanistan in 2001] was that of direct military intervention, and I anticipated that the veteran diplomat would concur with that point of view.
    What happened, however, was the exact opposite. The diplomat rejected out of hand any sort of diplomacy, arguing that there were only extremists within the ranks of the Taliban. There was, in his opinion, no such thing as a moderate Taliban, and as such the United States had no choice but to lump the Taliban and al-Qaida into a singular target set, and initiate direct military action designed to remove the Taliban from power and destroy al-Qaida in Afghanistan. I responded by noting that it would not be an easy thing to separate the Taliban from Afghan society, since the Taliban was a product of Afghan society, and that any military action against the Taliban would only strengthen the bonds between it and al-Qaida, which was of course the last result the United States should be seeking. The diplomat rejected my argument as simplistic and unrealistic. He argued for a military solution, and, of course, that was the result the Bush administration delivered. The diplomat’s name? Richard Holbrooke.

    Smile when you say that, pilgrim, or put up your Dukes.

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