One of the “most active” posts in the past week has been this one: Obama Nominates David Shear to Become the Next US Ambassador to Vietnam. As Ambassador Shear prepares to take up his post, I thought it would be fitting to share with you the farewell message that his predecessor, Ambassador Michael Michalak, sent to his contact list shortly before returning to the US in mid-February. Mr. Michalak’s point about people-to-people diplomacy (my italics) is spot-on.
“The time has come,” the Ambassador said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why I now must leave Hanoi
On Vietnam Air’s silver wings!”
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
My assignment as Ambassador here in Hanoi has come to an end and I am departing Vietnam for the last time as Ambassador. I have truly enjoyed my three and a half years here and want to thank you all for the cooperation and friendship you have shown me during my time here. I sincerely hope you will do the same for my successor, David Shear, when he arrives.
Building on the excellent work of my predecessors I believe we have made advances across the board in the U.S.–Vietnam relationship. I am proud of our accomplishments in military and security cooperation, in our human rights agenda, in our economic and commercial relationship, in our respect for each others’ cultural heritage and, most importantly, in our mutual desire to increase the educational ties between our two countries.
Most of all I am proud of the personal relationships I have developed with many Vietnamese in government at all levels, in the private sector, educational and cultural institutions and with Vietnamese from all walks of life. I think this people to people diplomacy is the only way to truly deepen our relationship and make it an enduring one. Vietnam will always be in my heart and I intend to continue to work to further the bonds between our two great countries.
I will shortly begin my assignment as an advisor to the Private Sector Host Committee for APEC 2011. During America’s APEC year I will work to integrate private sector participation in the U.S. APEC process, through events staged in conjunction with APEC meetings and through working to coordinate private sector issues with government issues. I will be returning to Seattle, where I spent two wonderful years in 1998 and 1999 and I look forward to renewing old friendships and beginning new ones.
I am certain the U.S. goals for APEC of deepening regional integration and expanding trade; promoting quality growth, especially green growth; and furthering regulatory cooperation towards regulatory coherence across the region will give me many opportunities to visit Asia, especially South East Asia, and continue my love affair with this dynamic part of the world.
Michael W. Michalak (Kirkland, Washington, USA)