was perhaps the best-know member of the Democratic Party's foreign
policy establishment. Twice, he just missed becoming Secretary of State.
In 1997, President Bill Clinton considered Holbrooke to replace
outgoing Secretary Warren Christopher, but ultimately chose Madeline
Albright. In 2000, many considered Holbrooke a likely choice for the
post if Vice President Al Gore won the presidency.
In a varied
career, Holbrooke served as U.S. Ambassador to Germany and was the only
person to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for both Asia, from 1977
to 1981 and Europe, from 1994 to 1996. He worked as a magazine editor, a
Peace Corps official, an investment banker, and a professor and
authored numerous articles and books.
But Holbrooke was a mostly a
diplomat. Born in New York to non-practicing Jewish parents, he entered
the Foreign Service in 1962 after graduating from Brown University. He
has said his decision reflected advice from Dean Rusk, later secretary
of state under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, whose son
attended high school with Holbrooke in Scarsdale, N.Y.
learning the language, Holbrooke went to Vietnam. He worked in the
Mekong Delta for the Agency for International Development before joining
the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. There, he was part of a group of young
diplomats who later gained senior positions, including John Negroponte,
Anthony Lake and Les Aspin.
Holbrooke later worked with a team
of Vietnam experts in the Johnson White House. He was part of the U.S.
delegation to the 1968 Paris Peace talks and helped write a volume of
the secret Pentagon describing U.S. decisions in Vietnam, which were
In the 1970s Holbrooke worked in Morocco before leaving government to work as managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine.
1976, he moved into Democratic Party politics, working as a national
security adviser to Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign. After Carter's
win, Holbrooke became assistant secretary of State for East Asian and
pacific affairs, the top U.S. official overseeing diplomacy in Asia.
first European job was ambassador to Germany in 1993, a key post a few
years after East and West Germany unified. Promoted to assistant
secretary for European and Canadian affairs, in 1994, Holbrooke was soon
overseeing U.S. efforts to negotiate a peace deal in Bosnia and
The Dayton Accords, which Holbrooke was widely
credited with devising, involved a highly specific division of the
territory of the former Bosnia and Herzegovina between Bosnians and
ethnic Serbians and Croatian who had battled in a bloody and
ethnically-based conflict that ended following a successful offensive by
the Croats and NATO intervention.
Holbrooke became ambassador to
the United Nations in 1999. After Gore's defeat, Holbrooke left
government again, but advised the presidential campaign of Sen. John