Tales from the Trail

Holbrooke hits the airwaves in new push

April 15, 2010

When President Barack Obama snuck into Afghanistan unannounced last month, a notable omission on Air Force One was his special representative for the region, veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke. OBAMA-AFGHANISTAN

Leaving out the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan on Obama’s very first trip to Kabul as president raised a few eyebrows.

Was Holbrooke’s star fading? Were frictions between his office at the State Department and the White House coming to a head? Would tensions with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has made a string of anti-Western comments over recent weeks, cause further problems for the Obama administration as it seeks to turn around the 8-year war?

But several U.S. officials say it is premature to write off Holbrooke’s fortunes.

In fact, the veteran diplomat’s profile has been raised in recent days, including his own trip to Kabul last weekend with U.S. General David Petraeus when they met up with Karzai.

Holbrooke appeared on MSNBC on Wednesday, declaring that tensions with the Afghan leader were over and that reports of friction were overblown.

AFGHANISTAN/In the coming days, Holbrooke will appear on several other news outlets. On Friday night, Holbrooke is giving an hour-long interview with broadcaster Charlie Rose on whose show he has appeared at least three times over the past year.

On Monday he will be answering questions on a live webcast on the State Department’s diplomatic blog http://blogs.state.gov/. Later on Monday, he is scheduled to appear on a panel at the National Press Club.

That’s a lot of public timeĀ  for someone left off Air Force One ….

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama steps off Air Force One in Afghanistan), Reuters/pool (Holbrooke, Karzai, Petraeus in Kabul)

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