Mother Jones

Trump Killed the Era of Great American Diplomacy

Trump Killed the Era of Great American Diplomacy

Longtime US diplomat Richard Holbrooke was many things: Ambassador to Germany, Assistant Secretary of State, the man who resolved the intractable war in Yugoslavia, and, to many… a womanizing, social-climbing jerk. While the storied career statesman saw “power the way an artist sees color,” as one former military leader put it in 2009—the year before Holbrooke died at 69—another former colleague described him as the “diplomatic equivalent of a hydrogen bomb,” leaving few survivors after being deployed. On this week’s episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery sits down with award-winning journalist George Packer from the Atlantic, whose new book, "Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century," chronicles the life of this American foreign policy giant, whose career and trajectory extended from Vietnam to Afghanistan. His story is particularly timely, just as Trump’s GOP pulls the country ever-further into isolationism and nativism, alienating allies and praising dictators. In a narrative that manages to toggle between being deeply learned and a beach-book page-turner Holbrooke is revealed as an undeniable icon of America’s global influence, but also as a flawed operator who often let his ego get in the way amid bouts of “dick-swinging diplomacy.” This conversation was recorded in front of a live audience at City Arts and Lectures in San Francisco in May, and is featured here as part of the Mother Jones Podcast’s summer series of fascinating conversations with journalists, artists, and activists about how their work interacts with some of the biggest debates of the day.

Duration: 33 min

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