Richard Holbrooke is one of the most disliked members of the American foreign policy establishment. He is also the most successful. His talent at ingratiating himself to the rich and powerful while stepping on the little people who provide him with information is legend. He has a perfect sense of who he can use, offend, and discard and of who he needs to please. And he knows how to gravitate to the hot issues and keep his personal focus only on power.
Holbrooke has campaigned long and hard to be Secretary of State. And it appears that he is getting close to his goal. So that you can get a sense as to when this will happen, I will try to provide you with an occasional update of this relentless quest with "Holbrooke Watch."
From the moment he was appointed in January 2009 as State's Special Representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan he has managed to dominate the foreign policy news. He knows how to make news and to present nothing as news. He is also very charming and friendly with female journalists.
Thus, it should have come as no surprise that when Secretary Clinton broke her elbow last week, that he was the first to insist that he go to this week's G-8 meeting of foreign ministers in Trieste.
My guess from the exchange below is that Clinton sent Special Envoy George Mitchell to Trieste simply to keep an eye on Holbrooke. Mitchell does not intimidate as easily as career officials like Under Secretary William J. Burns, who is attending the G-8 for the Secretary and who can easily have their career ruined by the likes of Holbrooke.
MR. KELLY: -- a big cast and a sling. And she’s a right-hander, so it’s – she’s got some dexterity and mobility issues. But she was on top of her game this morning.
QUESTION: Can you explain to us, Ian, why – Deputy Secretary Steinberg said that Special Representative Holbrooke and Special Envoy Mitchell would also be in Trieste. I think it’s well known, the Afghanistan-Pakistan related meetings.
MR. KELLY: Right.
QUESTION: But what is going to be Ambassador Mitchell’s – Senator Mitchell’s role in Trieste?
MR. KELLY: I believe there’s also a Quartet meeting. I hope I’m not out of ahead of myself by saying that, but I believe there’s also – yeah, they will be talking about Middle East issues as well.
QUESTION: So he would represent the United States at the Quartet meeting?
MR. KELLY: I’m not sure – I’m not sure what – I mean, he would participate.