Tales from the Trail

Holbrooke: No “dysfunction” on U.S. Afghan Team

 Barack Obama’s team running the Afghan war has its issues — but is it dysfunctional? No, sir, according to Richard Holbrooke.

” I have worked in every Democratic administration since the Kennedy administration, and I know dysfunctionality when I see it,” Holbrooke, the administration’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told the PBS NewsHour program.

” There are always personal differences and ambitions, but this is just not true. It’s not a dysfunctional relationship.”

Holbrooke’s interview with anchor Gwen Ifill came after a rough couple of weeks for Washington’s Afghan policy planners. Obama sacked his top commander in the region, General Stanley McChrystal, after the bombshell Rolling Stone article which included disparaging comments from McChrystal’s team about civilian directors of the war effort — Holbrooke included.  And McChrystal’s replacement, General David Petraeus, took over with a warning that there would be no swift turnaround after nine years of war.

Holbrooke said he was appalled by the McChrystal fiasco, but didn’t take it personally. He also said he wasn’t holding any grudges against the general, who “went out of his way” to offer a personal apology.  “In fact, he woke me in the middle of the night to apologize,” Holbrooke said.

Is Holbrooke’s “bulldozer” style working?

Dubbed the “bulldozer” for his tough guy tactics in Balkan negotiations, U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke has been making waves in South Asia recently.

holbrookeU.S. embassies in New Delhi and Kabul have been scrambling over the past week to deal with local fallout from statements made by Washington’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Statements that often go by unnoticed in Washington are parsed word for word in a region where there are deeply-held suspicions over U.S. intentions.