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October, 2009

Richard Holbrooke, Special Representative to Afghanistan/Pakistan

A profile of Richard Holbrooke, special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and his method of 'democratic centralism'.
I really like George Packer (I've linked to his writing quite a few times in the past). Anyway, his latest piece (at least I think it's his latest), is a nearly 15,000 word profile of Richard Holbrooke, special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. It's quite an impressive piece, painting not only a clear picture of a complicated figure in international relations, but also providing plenty of context for the situation that Holbrooke is trying to navigate. One particularly fascinating part was the description of how Holbrooke runs his organization:
Holbrooke described his method to me as "a form of democratic centralism, where you want open airing of views and opinions and suggestions upward, but once the policy's decided you want rigorous, disciplined implementation of it. And very often in the government the exact opposite happens. People sit in a room, they don't air their real differences, a false and sloppy consensus papers over those underlying differences, and they go back to their offices and continue to work at cross-purposes, even actively undermining each other."
Read the whole thing (just give yourself plenty of time to do it).
October 31, 2009
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