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THE DIPLOMAT tells the remarkable story of the life and legacy of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, whose singular career spans fifty years of American foreign policy - from Vietnam to Afghanistan. Told through the perspective of his eldest son David, the documentary takes you behind the scenes of high stakes diplomacy where peace is waged and wars are ended. As a young man, Holbrooke was sent to Vietnam as a junior foreign service officer and saw up close what went wrong. Thirty years later, he is tasked by President Clinton to bring another conflict to an end, this time in Europe where the Bosnian war is raging. This success earns him fame but not his dream job of Secretary of State, yet he soldiers on, getting an impossible mission from President Obama of ending the war in Afghanistan. The effort does not go well, as Holbrooke runs into obstacles in Kabul and Washington and dies on the job in December 2010 when his heart gives out. Processing his father's death, Holbrooke's son David ...
I was expecting an ordinary biopic, in this case of a well-known figure getting praised by associates and others in his field, plus some interesting footage of this and that. An avid reader of the news, I thought I knew a lot (or enough) about Richard Holbrooke. Was I wrong! He was a larger-than-life figure with unbelievable accomplishments. His son David has made an amazingly thought-provoking film on how foreign policy is made (although this was not his intent; he set out to learn more about his father, who was, understandably, distant while travelling around the world in order to solve problems that meant life and death for many thousands of people as well as whole countries). While the film's beginning is a bit confusing, going back and forth in time, the film settles into giving us a clear perspective on selected foreign policies through the decades during which Holbrooke served this country at the highest levels. We get a strong idea of his strengths but also his all-too-human flaws. His relationships with General Petraeus, Secretary Hillary Clinton, journalist David Rohde, Presidents Clinton and Obama are illuminated and totally fascinating. David Holbrooke, the filmmaker and Richard's son, has made a powerful tribute to his dad, while giving us a mesmerizing lesson in foreign affairs.
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