Sunday, April 06, 2008

Tony Lake or Richard Holbrooke for SecState?

Time has a good article about Obama & Clinton's chief foreign policy gurus.

I knew both from the time I spent in the State Dept., having dined with Holbrooke and Peter Tarnoff twice in Lyon when Holbrooke came for respite from a deteriorating marriage while he was Peace Corps director in Morocco. He had just started up Foreign Policy magazine and when he asked me to subscribe, like a wiseacre I told him I'd subscribed that very day to Rolling Stone. As Holbrooke has a reputation for disliking any contrariness, when Tarnoff re-introduced me to RH twice in the State Dept. when Tarnoff was Executive Secretary, Holbrooke cut me dead. A compleat a**hole, as the article hints and many in State will resoundingly attest.

I had less to do with Tony Lake, though he came to Saudi Arabia while I was there and we rode into Jeddah from the airport together. He had heard of me from Tarnoff and was very interested in the Saudi political scene, which I as Political Officer was up to date on. Later in DC, I also talked with Tony, who as the chief of INR at the time, was interested in the Middle East and my ideas. An idea man and an idealist. Sort of like Obama.

Tony lived down the block from where my wife and I did in Wesley Heights, and we were in his house when I had to deliver a document while both he and I were out of government pay. He is a New England patrician with no pretensions, unlike the prickly pushy Holbrooke. Richard Oakley, Holbrooke's deputy when RH was AS of East Asia, habitually reprimanded him for not being up to speed on various issues, as Holbrooke's love life [Diane Sawyer, among others] and night life interfered with his professionalism.

If a Dem is elected, and either is made SecState, it will be only the second time a career FSO has been Secretary of State---Larry Eagleberger being the only example up to now.

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