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Ambassador Richard Holbrooke

Personal Perspective

Richard Holbrooke served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1998-2001), where he was also a member of President Clinton’s Cabinet (1999-2001). He is currently a Vice-Chariman of Perseus, L.L.C. a merchant bank and private equity fund management company. He has received over twenty honorary degrees and numerous awards, including several Nobel Peace Prize nominations. He is on several boards and committees, including The Telluride Foundation.

At Home in Telluride

[Excerpted from “Ambassador Richard Holbrooke: At Home in Telluride,” an article written by Gabby Anstey and published in the Winter/Spring ’03-’04 Telluride Style magazine.]

To Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Telluride is home, even though at this stage, he’s able to spend only about 30 days a year here. “That’s my life ambition,” he says, “to be able to spend 60 to 90 days a year in Telluride.”

When here, he does what most people do…enjoys himself, treasures the beauty of the area and tries to involve himself with what’s going on in town.

“Sometimes I feel torn,” he says. “When I come to Telluride, it’s my chance to get away from my other home in New York and relax, but on the other hand, this is also my home, and it’s a small community. I like to be involved.”

As former ambassador to Germany under the Clinton Administration, Holbrooke’s involvement in politics is vast, beginning with participation in pacification programs in the Mekong Delta during Vietnam and later, as staff assistant to U.S. Ambassadors Maxwell Taylor and Henry Cabot Lodge. Other notables include being an advisor on Vietnam to President Johnson, junior member of the American Delegation to the Paris Peace Talks on Vietnam, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs during the Carter Administration (during which the U.S. established full diplomatic relations with China), and Peace Corps director in Morocco. Perhaps Holbrooke’s foremost career triumph was during the Clinton Administration when he successfully negotiated the Dayton Peace Accords, which ended the Bosnian War. At that time, he was assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian Affairs and Chief U.S. Envoy to former Yugoslavia.

Holbrooke’s passionate outlook toward appropriate action and involvement, with regard to peacekeeping strategies, is inspirational. In a piece he recently wrote for the Washington Post, titled “How Did ‘Never Again’ Become Just Words,” Holbrooke commented on the decade since the Rwandan genocide. With regard to the devastating tragedy, where the U.S. and United Nations failed to intervene and 800,000 people were slaughtered in three months, he said: “There will be other Bosnias and Rwandas and Afghanistans—as well as, regrettably, terrorism—in our lives. How we respond to them will determine not only the fate of millions, but our own future as Americans and the kind of world we live in. We must learn from the errors that allowed Rwanda to take place.”

As for local politics, Holbrooke wholeheartedly believes the Valley Floor should be preserved. “I’m an absolutist when it comes to the Valley Floor. It’s a treasure for Telluride, as well as for the state and the nation. It should most certainly be preserved and kept intact or it will change the character of the town forever. I’m not for compromises on this one. It’s a magical moment when you hit that field, driving in from Montrose or the Telluride airport. I don’t understand why people would want to compromise that.”



This article appears in the Valley Floor Anthology.
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