What they left out is that Richard Holbrooke was as Special Envoy, in a many regards, a war criminal; an exporter of misery and suffering to millions of people.
Over the course of nearly five decades, Holbrooke supported and took part in—often playing quite substantial roles—some of the most horrifying crimes of the latter half of the twentieth century. For six years in the 1960s he worked to advance the brutal U.S. pacification of South Vietnam. In addition to serving as an aide to multiple U.S. ambassadors in the Saigon embassy, Holbrooke worked as a USAID operative in the Mekong Delta. USAID programs provided training for South Vietnamese police, intelligence agents, and death squads to help these U.S.-directed forces ruthlessly terrorize and slaughter hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese peasants in an effort to stop the population from supporting Ho Chi Min and the National Liberation Front (also known as the “Viet Cong”).
USAID also played a significant role in facilitating CIA involvement in “Operation Phoenix”—the infamous program of mass torture and political murder which claimed several tens of thousands of victims. In all, the U.S. and its surrogate forces in Vietnam ended up killing upwards of three to four million human beings throughout the war, including many children. Holbrooke also helped implement this campaign by serving as a high level advisor to then-President Lyndon Johnson. .
In the late 1970s, Holbrooke served as President Jimmy Carter’s Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. The unprovoked Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor, beginning in 1975, was largely a U.S. project designed to maintain traditional U.S. political and economic interests in the region. The U.S. provided Indonesia with upwards of 90 percent of their military hardware and, until 1999, successfully blocked all international efforts in the United Nations to bring about an Indonesian withdrawal from East Timor.
Holbrooke served as the top Carter administration official responsible for U.S. policy in Indonesia and East Timor. On the military end, Holbrooke authorized crucial arms shipments to Indonesia which allowed the invading forces to attack largely undefended, civilian targets. As part of the political campaign to conceal these genocidal atrocities, Holbrooke testified before Congress in 1979, lying to the American people about the mass starvation the U.S.-backed Indonesian forces were imposing on the East Timorese general public. According to sources from the UN, Amnesty International, and the Catholic Church, some 200,000 East Timorese were killed, with hundreds of thousands more tortured and rendered homeless in what amounted to, proportionally, one of the most comprehensive genocides since the Nazi Holocaust.5