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Warren Christopher dies at 85

Warren Christopher, who spent 45 years serving Democratic Administrations (including Secretary of State for Bill Clinton), died yesterday of complications from bladder and kidney cancer at his home in California.

Hillary Clinton commenting on Christopher said:

“Warren was a diplomat’s diplomat — talented, dedicated and exceptionally wise. As well as anyone in his generation, he understood the subtle interplay of national interests, fundamental values and personal dynamics that drive diplomacy.”

His achievements were notable. With Richard Holbrooke, Christopher brokered the 1995 Dayton agreement ending the war in Bosnia. He restored diplomatic relations with Vietnam and pushed for the expansion of NATO to include countries of central and Eastern Europe. Christopher oversaw the signing of the Oslo accords between Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat in Washington.

This was a great man who served by “talking” as opposed to armed battles. His comment says it all:

“Most talking is not glamorous. Often it is tedious. It can be excruciating and exhausting. But talking can also tame conflict, lift the human condition, and move us close to the ideal of peace.”

A comment on the death of Richard Holbrooke…

America had a very great loss this week with the death of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, 69,  The Bulldozer, who served this country as a negotiator and State Department problem solver for nearly five decades. Known for the Dayton Accords which ended the Bosnia conflict, at the time of his death during 20 hours of surgery for a torn aorta he had been working on the AfPak portfolio… solving the Afghanistan/Pakistan conflict diplomatically.

“He was one of a kind – a true statesman – and that makes his passing all the more painful,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement Monday evening. She praised Holbrooke’s “distinctive brilliance and unmatched determination.”
The Washington Post reports that Holbrooke’s last words came just before the 21-hour operation: 

As Holbrooke was sedated for surgery, his final words were to his Pakistani surgeon, family members said: “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.”

In an age like the present we can little afford to lose men like Holbrooke who make international agreements happen without the vastness of killing and violence that we find in war. He will be missed.