Veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke, 69, is reported in critical condition at George Washington University Hospital, after surgery to repair a torn aorta. According to CNN, he fell ill during a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday morning, walked to the State Department medical unit under his own power, and was taken to the hospital from there. His family has joined him at the hospital, and Mrs. Clinton has also paid a visit.
Holbrooke is described by the New York Times as a “senior policy-maker on the administration’s most pressing foreign policy issues.” He’s been deeply involved in diplomacy with Pakistan and Afghanistan. Before that, he served as the U.S. ambassador to both the United Nations and Germany, and twice held the post of Assistant Secretary of State. He was instrumental in arranging the Dayton Accords that brought a cessation of hostilities between Bosnian factions in 1995. Holbrooke has authored or co-authored a number of books, including To End A War, a highly-regarded account of the diplomacy that led to the Dayton Accords.
Tears in the aorta often occur as a result of traumatic injury, but Holbrooke’s condition was apparently brought on by blood pressure and advancing age. The greatest danger lies in continuous bleeding when the condition is not detected quickly. The prognosis improves considerably once a patient has received surgical care. Here’s hoping Mr. Holbrooke makes a strong and speedy recovery.