In the NYT review of Vali Nasr, dean of Johns Hopkins SAIS, Michiko Kakutani gives a longer treatment of this foreign policy insider critique of the Obama foreign policy process.
In this book Mr. Nasr contends that “the White House campaign against the State Department, and especially Holbrooke, was at times a theater of the absurd. Holbrooke was not included in Obama’s video conferences” with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, “and was cut out of the presidential retinue when Obama went to Afghanistan.”“The White House,” Mr. Nasr says, “resented losing AfPak to the State Department,” and “that was one big reason” it was “on a warpath with Holbrooke — he was in their way and kept the State Department in the mix on an important foreign policy area.”
Mr. Holbrooke, he goes on, “would not cede ground to the White House, not when he thought those who wanted to wrest control of Afghanistan were out of their depth and not up to the job.”Mr. Nasr describes Mr. Holbrooke who oversaw the 1995 Dayton peace accords that ended the war in Bosnia as “a brilliant strategic thinker in the same league as such giants of American diplomacy as Averell Harriman and Henry Kissinger.”
And he uses his own in-depth knowledge of the geopolitics of the Middle East to make an impassioned case for many of Mr. Holbrooke’s diplomatic initiatives and ideas, which often failed to find traction within the White House.