There is something unseemly about the efforts to spin and re-spin the reported last words of Richard Holbrooke. The special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan is supposed to have said something like “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan” as he was being taken into surgery. The second-guessing has devolved into third- and fourth-guessing, to the point that it’s no longer clear whether he was speaking for posterity or making a wisecrack to his Pakistani surgeon.
Poor man. What if he meant to say something important, knowing (as he must have known) that his survival was in question? And now there he is, looking down from Paradise (blessed are the peacemakers, remember), while the living say things like, “Yeah, he said something like that, but I assumed he was joking.”
It’s not as if he said something funny, like “Either this wallpaper goes, or I do,” or opaque, like “Rosebud.” The man who brought peace to Bosnia spoke out for peace in Afghanistan. Shouldn’t we take his words at face value?