KIM SENGUPTA A few weeks after the liberation of Kosovo, a group of foreign journalists opened a bar in Pristina which they decided to call Tricky Dickys, in homage to Richard Holbrooke, who had bestrode Balkans diplomacy with such prominence. A little later Holbrooke, on a visit to the Kosovan capital, paid a visit to the club and held forth with remarkable candour about the state of affairs. The Kosovo Liberation Army contained some pretty unsavoury elements, he declared a surprising admission at time when the KLA was being portrayed by Washington and London as pure-hearted freedom fighters battling Serbian oppression. Holbrooke had always stressed that he had an empathy with journalists. Others experienced the less amiable side of the Bulldozer. A senior Serbian official in Belgrade was left spluttering with indignation by what he considered to be Holbrookes high-handed behaviour arrogance and bullying... ultimatums no one can meet, the official complained. Similarly an Afghan minister was shocked when he witnessed Holbrooke banging the table as he demanded that Hamid Karzai agreed to a second round run-off in the national elections which had been tainted by fraud. The humiliating dressing down, the minister believes, was one of the catalysts in fuelling the Afghan presidents feeling of resentment towards the West. But it was not just the Afghans who were being affected by Tricky Dicky in Kabul. General Stanley McChrystals groan in the Rolling Stone article Oh no, not another e-mail from Holbrooke, I dont even want to open it was a feeling shared by many of the US commanders colleagues. The Afghan capital, at that time, had become a three-ringed circus with open rivalry between Holbrooke, the US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador to Afghanistan and General McChrystal. The last glimpse some of us had of Holbrooke was at the garden of the Gadamack Lodge Hotel in Kabul one evening in the autumn where he was ensconced at a corner table supposedly having a discreet meeting with an embassy colleague. But he was surrounded by his personal bodyguards with their guns drawn. Was this not a bit of a giveaway? one of them was asked. Yep, he replied, but thats what the man wants, hes alpha one and he dont care who knows that. The Independent