“I think what your father and I had in common was basically our European background and also understanding that we couldn't let things like this happen again, knowing what had happened to as a result of more than ethnic cleansing during the Holocaust, that you couldn't let this kind of thing happen again.”
– Secretary of State MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
“He was a big booster and a big believer in the military. He believed that American military power was the key in stopping what was going on in the Balkans. He knew it had to be deployed the right way. He had seen all the mechanics from Vietnam at close range.”
– Retired General WESLEY CLARK
“The whole idea was to use diplomacy to do something and that tough words were a lot better than bullets. There are few people who can combine all the requisite skills of being analytical and sufficiently eloquent and actually figure out how to get something done. Holbrooke could look at a problem and immediately say, 'I’ve got to do these six things and if we put these six stars in alignment in this way, something could happen.' And then he could push people to do it. It’s a gift, a gift that we need more people in positions of responsibility to have. He could figure out how to unlock whatever potential was there.”
– President BILL CLINTON
“He filled up so much space and had his own energy field, I think a lot of people just assumed that he was a unique figure in their lives and in the work that they were doing with him. But taking a step back, which is what you're doing with this film, you can see the broad impact and the historic significance of his life and work."
– Secretary of State HILLARY CLINTON
“He had a very keen sense of and strong belief in the power of individuals in history, to make a difference. And this was the way he ran a negotiation, it’s the way he ran things generally. There was always a tremendous amount of excitement that he generated around the issues that he worked on. And he was able to convince people that what they were working on was the most important going on in the world."
– National Security Advisor TOM DONILON
“He had to navigate disputes within the White House, disputes between the State Department and the Defense Department, the National Security Council. And that’s par for the course. But he was a black belt in bureaucratic kung-fu. He knew how to get organizations lined up.”
– Vice President AL GORE
“You could just love the guy for a number of reasons. I mean, not only his passion, a lot of people have passion, but his coolness under fire, his desire to solve problems, which from the point of view of a diplomat, to see someone just bring to bear this intelligence and this real thirst to solve a problem, it is a pleasure to watch.”
– Ambassador CHRIS HILL
“[In Afghanistan] he was trying to prevent the mistakes from being made, and it came out of his experience in Vietnam. He saw the potential that if the wrong decisions were made and we didn’t do the right things, that it could wind up being a disaster for the United States and for the region.”
– Secretary of State JOHN KERRY
“I thought of him as a diplomat that our country is occasionally lucky to have. Somebody who happened to enjoy public service. I mean, it was his hobby. He probably would have worked for nothing. He didn't do it as a career step.”
– Secretary of State HENRY KISSINGER
“When he came to this room, he filled the room. There was no conversation that could ever be completed with anybody else, because there was Holbrooke. But it did not mean that any conversation was interrupted. It got to a conclusion. But the rapid fire interventions of Ambassador Holbrooke meant that it got elevated, and it got widened, then it got narrowed, then it got channeled."
– President of Afghanistan, ASHRAF GHANI
“There’s no denying that in the first two years of the Obama administration there were deep divisions and deeply differing perspectives on how to move forward in Afghanistan-Pakistan. Looking back on it now, there were probably times where we let that tension, which was designed to be constructive tension, maybe edge towards personal divisions and so forth. But that was never the design."
– Permanent Representative to NATO, DOUG LUTE
“Hurricane Holbrooke: he is not something that all loved to be surrounded by or around or near. There can be positive effects from disruption and that’s what you want to challenge. I think that’s why Secretary Clinton really worked hard to get him in that position, knowing the commitment that he’d bring, knowing the energy, you know, he’s going to go over, through, or outflank any obstacle that’s there. That’s what he’s known for. That’s what should be expected when you hire Richard Holbrooke.”
– Retired General DAVID PETRAEUS
“I was pretty skeptical that a negotiating process could make a difference for the people of Bosnia that had been trapped, and in many ways abandoned for a very long time, but it was pretty clear there was a new sheriff in town…almost days after he arrived.”
– Ambassador to the UN, SAMANTHA POWER
“If Dick Holbrooke couldn't solve [the Afghanistan] problem, then it was literally a problem from hell in the sense that it couldn't be solved. And here we are, all these years later, and it ain't solved.”
– Deputy Secretary of State STROBE TALBOTT