Richard Holbrooke: the Bulldozer and his Afghan legacy

Veteran American diplomat Richard Holbrooke has died at the age of 69, after undergoing emergency heart surgery.

Nicknamed “The Bulldozer”, he is best known for pushing the US agenda in the Balkans during the Bosnian War. More recently, he became Barack Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

RT’s military contributor, Colonel Evgeny Khrushchev, commented on Holbrooke’s role in Afghanistan:

“Richard Holbrooke is more famous for purging the diplomatic, intelligence and law enforcement community in the United States – all those who were actively supporting the only positive side of the American robust counter-narcotic foreign policy. He wiped out the whole generation of American politicians, generals, diplomats and ambassadors who were taking active stance in aerial eradication [of poppy crops] in Afghanistan.

“Single-handedly, he made a complete overhaul of the US policy from counter- to pro-narcotic…letting loose all the drug-lords. And that resulted in the legitimization of the criminal drug-trafficking in Afghanistan,” the analyst continued.

In Colonel Khrushchev’s opinion, Richard Holbrooke could be viewed as the father of NATO’s present-day strategy in the region – a strategy actively opposed by Russia.

“Russia’s stance is a logical extension of President [George W.] Bush’s policy of ‘zero-tolerance’ towards drugs – in Afghanistan or anywhere else. It’s the only option of dealing with the Afghan drug-trafficking,” he said.

Evgeny Khrushchev explained that, de facto, the policy conducted by Richard Holbrooke was nothing but the “lip service” about preventing so-called “friendly farmers” from going to the Taliban.

“There is no delineation between a narco-farmer, bomb-maker or a local peasant. All of them are the same names and the same faces in the same family,” Colonel Khrushchev stressed.

Writer Diana Johnstone says Holbrooke’s diplomacy tactics were predominantly marked with deception and that the future of US foreign policy is unlikely to change with his death.

I think Holbrooke was good at doing what American diplomacy wants done, which is deception,” Johnstone said. “He has a whole history of doing things for the US that I am afraid are in keeping with their continuing policy of making use of local conflicts in faraway places in order to extend their own power and control.”