Our (Irascible) Man in Iraq

Robert Blackwill seems like the last man you would want for a sensitive diplomatic mission. He shouts. He interrupts. He grandstands and pontificates. "He's a vain son of a bitch," says a former colleague. "Human relations are not his strong suit," says another. With his high-pitched giggle and awkward bearing, the fleshy former Harvard professor comes across in unguarded moments as eccentric and condescending. His jokes fall flat; his attempts to ingratiate just grate.

For salvaging a diplomatic train wreck, however, Blackwill, 64, may be the best there is. So a year ago, when the Bush Administration realized how much trouble...

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