Just the Man for the Job


Richard Holbrooke’s not going to be Secretary of State and he’s not going to be Deputy Secretary. I think the feeling is that he would regard the remaining jobs available is unworthy of his stature. And yet Spencer Ackerman has an intriguing suggestion — perhaps Holbrooke should be our next Ambassador to Baghdad. After all, even those of us who haven’t always agreed with Holbrooke on some issues would have to concede that he’s really excelled as a troubleshooter and a negotiator. And even as the tactical military situation in Baghdad has improved, our relationships with different Iraqi factions have gotten ever-more-complicated, and the current team’s efforts to (metaphorically) crack some skulls over there and reach some kind of consensus on what we’re going to do next have been rather lackluster.

One might analogize the situation over there to the issues in the Balkans when Holbrooke helped spearhead the Dayton Accords and bring slash push people together. Indeed, Holbrooke himself has drawn the analogy:

But the world has more or less turned its back on Bosnia itself. I returned to see how things were going. What I found has relevance to many other areas, including Iraq. […] No agreement is worth much if it is not vigorously implemented and enforced. Political arrangements must reflect historical and ethnic realities. A unitary state with a strong central government may work in France or Japan, but not in Bosnia — nor, I believe, in such places as (to choose from many) Iraq, Afghanistan or Sudan. There (as in the United States, Germany and India), power must be shared between the central government and the states or provinces. The United States must recognize this in Iraq.

I can think of a bunch of reasons why Holbrooke might not want to do this, but I honestly can’t think of anyone who comes to mind as a better candidate.