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Posted at 2:30 PM ET, 12/14/2010

Holbrooke's last words on the Afghan war

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Karen DeYoung

As friends and colleagues from four decades of diplomatic life reflected on the intensity of Richard C. Holbrooke's dedication, many were not surprised to learn that concerns about the Afghanistan war were apparently among his final thoughts.

Following Holbrooke's death, The Washington Post, citing his family members, reported that the veteran diplomat had told his physician just before surgery on Friday to "stop this war."

But on Tuesday a fuller account of the tone and contents of his remarks emerged.

As Dr. Jehan El-Bayoumi was attending to Holbrooke in the emergency room at George Washington University Hospital, she told him to relax and asked what she could do to comfort him, according to an aide who was present. Holbrooke, who was in severe pain, said jokingly that it was hard to relax because he had to worry about the difficult situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

El-Bayoumi, an Egyptian-American internist who is Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's physician, replied that she would worry for him. Holbrooke responded by telling her to end the war, the aide said.

The aide said he could not be sure of Holbrooke's exact words. He emphasized Tuesday that the comment was made in painful banter, rather than as a serious exhortation about policy. Holbrooke also spoke extensively about his family and friends as he awaited surgery by Farzad Najam, a thoracic surgeon of Pakistani descent.

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Karen DeYoung  | December 14, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
 
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Comments

Holbrooke died...an Egyptian and a Pakistani...Hummm!

Posted by: mortified469 | December 14, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

mortified469???...You should be mortified.

Posted by: Woodie731 | December 14, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

A deathbed confession is never a joke. Neither should this be except it is convenient for those who want endless war and the light at the end of the tunnel

Posted by: Modeldon_9 | December 14, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Painful Banter? That's reserved for the US Congress! Holbrooke was surely serious (until the survivors moved the evidence around to fit their bias). The way to get out of Afghanistan is to use the Soviet method! Charge in the opposite direction... . Follow the footsteps of other Visionaries! Atilla the Hun, Alexander the Great, The Soviet Army,.About face. Backward March!

Posted by: dave_sheehan641 | December 14, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Wikileaks does give abnormal heart beats to some diplomats, and usualy results in death. he he he he he he!!!!!!

Posted by: BOBSTERII | December 14, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

This occurred before he went into surgery.
I think, at that time they didn't think
that he may not recover from this surgery
Show what an unselfish man Holbrooke was.
All I would have worried about was myself.

Posted by: moseyon | December 14, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I do not believe that man made such statement. Stay away from those hospitals if you do not have a doctor that you can trust. The reason that I say this is April 2010 I transported my husband to the ER to get some fluids because his doctor stated that he needed fluids and take him to the er to get the fluids. When we enter the er room and they took my spouse back to give him fluids they gave him the fluids and the nurse stated that his blood pressure was high. I Santria stated back to the nurse don't worry about giving him something for his blood pressure he has taken his blood pressure medications. The nurse stated oh no I got something that will bring it down before I could say another word that nurse had giving my husband a shot that stopped his heart they rushed in to try and get his heart back to beating they got his heart back to beating and put him on life support for several weeks Dr.MM stated that he needed a trach put in or he would not live the doctor put the trach and put him on a breathing machine and refused to wean him off send him home and refused to care for the trach, the trach has been in my husband for more than seven months. This same doctor just lie everytime you ask him a question when my husband was in ICU I spend the night at his bedside hoping to speak with this doctor. that morning he came in and I waited on him to come see my husband I was sitting in my husband room when he peek in the room never came close to my husband I waited about an hour to see if he would come in he never did so I went to the deck and I asked him did he see my husband and he stated yes there is no changes that hurt because I know he never checked him now I am at home taking care of my husband. When my husband visit the er he was walking , talking and eating now he is flat of his back fighting for his life, To Dr.MM nurse stated that Dr.MM refused to change my husband trach.

Posted by: santria | December 14, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Of course he knew he could die. Repairing a torn aorta is as serious as it gets, and he already just had surgery. If he was talking about ending the war, while in pain, it is highly unlikely that he was not saying what he really thought. This guy is completely dedicated to his work, and his work was trying to fix the war. He is not going to mince his last words. He knew it is known as the graveyard of empires. He would not joke about it. He admitted that he was worried about it and thinking about it as they prepared for surgery.

Posted by: good1 | December 14, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

In the larger context provided in the article, there is nothing to suggest that his last words were not made in earnest. The intern asked him how she could make him more comfortable and he replied “End this war.” (or something to that effect). It’s clear the end of the war was what he wanted. But it’s like when a waitress asks “Can I get you anything else?” and you reply “How about a winning lottery ticket.” Same thing. We’re asking for what we want, knowing that it’s unrealistic to expect that we’ll actually get it. Did Holbrooke want an end to this war? Of course he did. Did he want it to end immediately by pulling out our troops? Of course not, otherwise this would’ve been his stance long before he found himself on the operating table.

And I find the coincidence of his ruptured aorta and the Wikileaks cables very interesting.

Posted by: CaptSugarMeTimbers | December 15, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Every couple of weeks or so the American flag in front of my company is lowered to half staff because we receive faxes from the Governor’s office when an American soldier dies in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Every day Americans die of drug violence and American jobs are stolen by Communist China.
There are over 10 million illegals from Mexico in the United States.
If they live here and don’t make trouble - fine.
The problem is Mexico.
There are reportedly 35,000 American border patrol agents deployed.
Mexico has 750.
Get it?
Drugs come from southeast Asia, the Middle East and Afghanistan through Honduras, Guatemala and into Mexico and then into the lungs, arms and hearts of Americans.
Local, state and federal government officials have stated to our face that they will not secure our border.
Mexico has become a terrorist front for organizations like Al-Queda and Communist China.
Why set off a dirty bomb when you can kill effectively with little bags of powder?
They even profit from it.
Our Army needs to withdraw from Afghanistan and be sent into Mexico. They need to be put on the right track so Mexicans can live normal lives instead of like prisoners of marauding psychopaths and a corrupt government and dreaming of living in Toledo, Seattle or Chicago.
As he lay dying our American envoy to that stinking place called Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooked is reported to have said, "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan.”
Is this your country or not?

Posted by: cranston36 | December 15, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

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