Sadly, the ‘bulldozer’ has passed away after failed repairs to a ripped aorta. America and the State Department have lost a stalwart¬†practitioner of the ‘darker arts’ of conflict resolution. The essential paradox Holbrooke embodied was that he was thoroughly pugnacious in pursuing his ends, which were nevertheless always to bring about peace. I saw and met him once, in Bologna, at a SAIS event. He spoke, without notes, for some forty five minutes giving a cogent and intellectually lucid analysis that was laced throughout with the realpolitik of somebody who had been at the cutting edge. There was more than an echo of the philosophy of the UN’s ¬†Sergio Viera de Mello in his willingness to roll up his sleeves and sit down with whoever it took to get things done. He had no qualms about ‘negotiating with people who do immoral things.’ Thus, Holbrooke not only negotiated with Slobodan Milosevic but became on friendly terms with him. He made no apologies for this ‘provided one doesn’t lose one’s point of view’ and, in perhaps his best-known pronouncement, declared that ‘If you can prevent the deaths of people still alive, you’re not doing a disservice to those already killed trying to do so.’ In a sense, Holbrooke was a nearly man (though nominated, he never won the Nobel Prize and he lost out to Madeleine Albright when she was appointed Secretary of State in 1997 – not to mention his association with the presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Hillary Clinton) but it was a glittering career all the same and American diplomacy is undoubtedly the poorer for his departure.