Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Envoy to Afghanistan, has died. He had been in critical condition after emergency surgery to repair a torn aorta.

Holbrooke’s death comes at a critical juncture for US involvement in Afghanistan. As David Dayen detailed earlier today, there are two upcoming National Intelligence Estimates on Afghanistan and Pakistan that will say that the fight is not winnable without Pakistani help against Taliban militants on its side of the border — help that will not be forthcoming.

In a New Yorker profile of him from last year, Holbrooke had indicated that he intended to avoid the mistakes made in Vietnam. Ironically, at his death, Afghanistan looks more like Vietnam than ever.