Cast of Characters
Holbrooke Under Consideration for South Asia Diplomatic Role
Updated 7:39 p.m.
By Michael Abramowitz and Al Kamen
President -elect Barack Obama is seriously considering giving former ambassador Richard Holbrooke a key role in handling diplomacy in south Asia, a move that would put one of America's most prominent international troubleshooters in the middle of trying to resolve the thorny and interrelated problems surrounding India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to several sources familiar with the transition.
The appointment would represent early recognition by Obama that the region poses perhaps the biggest foreign policy challenge for his incoming administration. Afghanistan has been beset by increasing violence and a resurgent Taliban, and the president-elect has promised more attention and resources for the fight there. Many foreign policy experts say Pakistan has not done enough to curb extremist activity in the regions along the Afghan border, contributing to the violence inside Afghanistan. Meanwhile, long-standing tensions between Pakistan and India have been aggravated by last week's terrorist shootings in Mumbai. Inside India, those attacks are widely blamed on Pakistan -- unfairly so, according to Pakistani officials.
The move would also represent another example of Obama's willingness to look beyond his circle of supporters to fill key posts. Holbrooke has been a long-time adviser and supporter of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Obama's pick for secretary of state, and himself had been mentioned as a possible long-shot for the top diplomat's job before Obama named Clinton this week.
Holbrooke's hopes for a top job in the new Democratic administration initially seemed unlikely to be realized, particularly because his aggressive diplomacy and bureaucratic maneuvering had alienated some of Obama's closest advisers over the years. But his star seemed to rise again after Obama settled on Clinton to be secretary of state and gave her leeway to assemble her own team at the department.
Holbrooke is perhaps best known as the broker of the Dayton accords, which ended the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, but he has long experience across the globe, having served as assistant secretary of state in charge of East Asia policy (during the Carter administration) and in charge of Europe policy (during the Clinton administration). In recent years, he has written extensively about the war and political problems in Afghanistan, which would be a key focus of the new job.
Posted at 5:25 PM ET on Dec 2, 2008
Cast of Characters
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