Richard Holbrooke was an important voice in U.S. foreign policy from his first State Department assignment in 1963 as a civilian AID worker in South Vietnam until his death in 2010. Along the way, he served two stints as Assistant Secretary of State, and also was U.S. Ambassador to Germany and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Holbrooke served in Vietnam with AID and at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, and later as an important Vietnam War adviser to President Lyndon Johnson. He also helped write The Pentagon Papers —the secret official DOD history of the Vietnam War. He was part of the U.S. delegation to the Paris Peace talks during the war and in 1977, as Assistant Secretary of State, started talks with Vietnamese officials to re-establish relations.
Holbrooke is the subject of a new documentary, The Diploma t , which was put together by his son David Holbrooke. It will be shown tonight for the first time on HBO at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.
“David Holbrooke frames the film partly as a career retrospective and partly as his own rediscovery of his father, who was often absent while he was growing up, ” Neil Genzlinger wrote in his New York Times review of the doc. “He puts just enough of himself and his extended family into ‘The Diplomat’ to give it some audience-friendly poignancy.
“Mr. Holbrooke’s early work in South Vietnam as a newbie in his early 20s made him a witness to history, and not history at its finest. ‘He can see McNamara asking the wrong questions, getting wishful answers, ‘ George Packer , Mr. Holbrooke’s biographer, says, referring to a visit to the country by Robert S. McNamara, then the secretary of defense.”