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tv   Ted Osius Nothing Is Impossible  CSPAN  January 30, 2022 6:04am-7:29am EST

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that. i thought remnix book is wonderful about listen. you know and it actually brings listen to life in a way that i haven't seen anybody do before. well, it's terrific. the book is terrific, and i'm so honored to been able to talk to you. i wish we were doing this in person in front of an audience in miami well soon i hope hopefully soon and i'm glad you weathered the your pandemic adventure. well, you know, i'm glad you in good shape, too. so yeah, i'm good. i just i got the booster and everything now if you probably i'm not but you know, so, okay, let's tell ourselves. we're fine we're fine and thank you again. and this is i've got to hold this up. i know this probably there you go. oh, there's all my notes on it. but anyway, it was so great to see you again and great to talk and next time. let's do it in person. yeah. thank you colin for official. that's a date.i'm janet steele f
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the institute for public diplomacy and global communication tonight ipdgc the walter robertson downment and our co-sponsor the seager center for asian studies are very pleased to welcome ambassador ted osius the former us ambassador to vietnam. ambassador ocs will be speaking out in the topic of his new book. nothing is impossible america's reconciliation with vietnam the story of the two countries 25-year journey from adversaries to friends and partners. as us ambassador to vietnam ted osius and his husband clayton bond were actively engaged in public diplomacy participating in a series of carefully planned thoughtfully executed engagements with the vietnamese people these included everything from releasing a bucketful of fat carp into hanoi's west lake during tet to in ted's case bicycling up and down the entire country from north to south. called the peoples ambassador by
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the vietnamese, press ted and his husband clayton demonstrated that american families can be what he described as multi-hued with two dads while at the same time being both traditional and modern. it's less highly fitting that ambassador ocsb the speaker at an annual lecture series that honors the memory of dr. walter r roberts. throughout his 42-year career, dr. roberts was dedicated to the advancement of public diplomacy through the creation of voice of america diplomatic assignments in europe presidential appointments to the us advisory commission on public diplomacy and ten years of teaching at george washington university's elliott school of international affairs. dr. roberts understood the critical importance of education and training and his contributions to the study and practice of public diplomacy and global communication has significant have significantly enhanced gw's leadership in this important area of learning. since 2011 the walter r robertson endowment, which was created by the roberts family and housed at the george washington university has hosted
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annual lectures with prominent foreign policy figures were lucky to have patricia roberts with us in person tonight and ambassador bill roberts attending via zoom. in the book that ambassador ocs is going to discuss tonight which incidentally is available for sale after the program. he cites several times of vietnamese proverb that says when you go on a journey you come back with wisdom tonight. ted is going to share with us some of the wisdom. he acquired during his 28 years in the foreign service or maybe 30 years 30 years. i've realized that number it may be wrong. sorry about that dr. alyssa ayers the dean of the elliott school of international affairs will be introducing our speaker. a scholar as well as a practitioner dean ayres has had a distinguished career in government nonprofits and the private sector among her numerous accomplishments. she served as deputy assistant secretary of state for south asia between 2010 and 2013 and we are most grateful to her for agreeing to introduce ambassador ocs tonight. a few quick notes tonight's program will begin with ambassador ocs's lecture, which
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will be followed by a moderated discussion with me. we will then we will end with questions from both of our audiences in person and virtual if you have if you're in the virtual audience and have questions, please do submit them via the question function rather than chat because i'm going to be the mc up here and it's very hard to look at both of them at once. so again, thank you so much for joining us. and please enjoy the program dean is the floor is yours. thank you. thank you professor steele for that introduction. i'll take my mask off as i'm a little bit far away from everyone's chairs. thank you for that introduction and for your stewardship of the global communications program in the institute for public diplomacy and global communication this annual event and the many illustrious speakers. we have hosted at the elliot school for this walter roberts lecture over the years showcases. the institute's breadth of engagement on the subject of public diplomacy. we are just one of a handful of institutes across the united states with this focus. now i could not be happier to
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have the honor of welcoming ambassador ted osius to the eliot school as our walter roberts lecture this year. i'm happy because ambassador ocius has a distinguished career diplomats perspective on the many aspects of diplomacy that help accomplish foreign policy successes, including public diplomacy through education through extensive public engagement through exchange through commercial engagement through bicycle diplomacy and many other dimensions. so he'll share some of his expertise on that front with us tonight as he discusses his new book. nothing is impossible america's reconciliation with vietnam a reconciliation in which ambassador ocs played key roles at different periods from opening the us consulate in ho chi minh city and his service at the us embassy in hanoi during the mid to late 90s to his return to vietnam as the us ambassador in 2014 his insights on diplomacy and the arc of reconciliation will be important for us all to absorb. but on a personal note, i'm also
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very happy to welcome ambassador ocs here tonight because he is a friend and former colleague and i know firsthand what a diplomatic talent he is we first met in 2007 when i served at the state department on the staff of former under secretary of state nicholas burns who at the time was chief negotiator of the us india civil nuclear agreement and at that time ambassador oseus was the head of our political team in india a position known as minister counselor for political affairs, and i could always rely on his good judgment as we slowly inched forward in that negotiation ultimately to success. his decades of service in the us foreign service began in 1989 and through his many overseas assignments in the philippines thailand vietnam india indonesia where he served as deputy chief of mission or the number two person at the embassy and then his washington assignments in the bureau of east asia and pacific affairs. he became one of our country's leading experts on asia with expertise ac south southeast and east asia he would build on this
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expertise during a year's assignment at a think tank the center for strategic and international studies during which he authored a major report on economic integration between india and asean. he then built on this foundation serving as an associate professor at the national war college. i met one of ambassadorosis's classes during his time at the war college and they asked very thoughtful questions which tells you that he was a very thoughtful professor. in 2014 president barack obama nominated ambassador ocs to serve as us ambassador to vietnam where he served until 2017 in vietnam. he led a mission of about 900 members of staff and implemented strategies to deepen security ties signed billions of dollars worth of commercial deals expanded educational exchanges and concluded agreements on trade law enforcement and environmental protection. he was the first us ambassador to receive the order of friendship from the president of vietnam. let me tell you a few other
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things about ambassador ocs in his leadership. he was a founding member of the affinity group gays and lesbians in foreign affairs agencies or gleefa at a time when us security clearance procedures could threaten the careers of lgbtq employees. gleefa has played an important. advocacy role as the official voice of lgbtq members of the us foreign affairs agencies. when he went to vietnam in 2014 to lead the us mission there ambassador ocs became the first openly gay us ambassador to serve in east asia. he married his partner clayton allen bond. also a former foreign service officer in 2006 and together. they have a six year old daughter and seven year old son. ambassador ocs resigned from the foreign service in 2017 over the policy direction of the trump administration. he wrote about this difficult decision in the foreign service journal and i urge you all to read his essay. he felt he could not in good conscience implement the policies he was asked to implement. he concluded that he could
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better serve his country from outside of government and his post foreign service career took him to higher education as the first vice president of fulbright university vietnam then to the tech industry as vice president for government affairs and public policy of google asia-pacific and just two months ago in august 2021. he was named the new president and chief executive officer of of the us asean business council. his book nothing is impossible america's reconciliation with vietnam, which he will discuss tonight was published this month and it covers the two countries 25-year journey from adversaries to friends and partners. it is already received acolides including from former vice president al gore from former secretaries of state madeline albright and john kerry from us members of congress such as senator patrick, leahy and congressman tom malinowski and from former harvard president drew gilpin faust among others. so accolades from such a range of expert readers is rare indeed.
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so we are in for a treat tonight. we will please join me in welcoming ambassador odious ocs to the podium. and we have to figure out the mask coordination can be here to close. thank you. thank you so much. thanks very much. it's truly an honor to be able to deliver the walter roberts lecture and i am i'm very moved. to be introduced by such good friends, so alyssa a dean ayers mentioned that we've known each other for a long time since since she and nick burns brought about a transformation in us india relations getting beyond the past and creating a new and very positive future for the united states and india, and i've been learning from professor steele for a long time
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about indonesia where we also by coincidence. i think got beyond a very difficult past and we're able to create a new positive comprehensive partnership between the united states and indonesia. so i think this school is really well served and really really grateful to be able to just speak with you tonight. also, they are both very prolific writers and having just finished this book. i know that if you it's a really to complete a book you have to be compelled you have to it has to be in you burning to get out because that's the only way to get through the agonies of writing a book, but i'm and i've read both of their writing and a great great admirer. my book is not really a policy book. it's a it's a book of stories because i've concluded that that reconciliation is about people. so the the book is a is stories
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of people people who i think were very brave on the on the american side and on the vietnamese side in bringing about reconciliation taking two former enemies and making them into friends and partners. and so i'm going to speak with you about the book in two parts tonight part one. i'll call building trust. and part two. i'll call taking risks. and so i'm going to start with a story and just by coincidence. i learned that today is the 54th. today is the 54th anniversary to the day of when when john mccain was shot down over trickbok lake in hanoi. and let me describe a little bit about what that was. like he was he was he had been flying bombing runs over the city of hanoi. and when his plane was shot down
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he was ejected very forcibly from the cockpit so forcibly that by the time he was in the air he had broken two arms and a leg and then he hit the water really hard and then the people who came out to pull it mature. we're not so much interested in the well-being of john mccain. they were pretty mad because of what he'd been doing to their city to their families. so he dragged him ashore and someone stuck a bayonet in his groin. and by then his bones from his leg were protruding through the skin. and they hauled him off to what the french called. hualo prison the vietnamese called the follow prison the french called the fiery furnace. and it was really unpleasant place americans referred to it as the hanoi hilton, but it was it was no hilton the stories i have heard in the years make
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years since make one's blood curdle and the and certainly senator later senator mccain at that time. a commander mccain captain mccain was not treated well. and by i think june of the following year they had the warden had figured out who he was. he was the son of admiral mccain. it was a grandson of another admiral mccain so they had figured out he was actually a very valuable prisoner. by then he had drunk down to about 98 pounds and he'd been kept alive by his fellow prisoners. his bones had been set without any anesthetic. he had never received any treatment for his his wounds and he was in really bad shape. and the warden said mccain you can go free. you can get on the next plane. you can be out of here. you can go free.
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and he said let me get back to you on that and he went back and talked to the cellmate the person who was right next in the cell right next to his bob craner. and he said you know, there is this military code first in first out if you were the first prisoner of war to go in you should be the first one to go out. well, i'm not the first one in so i can't go out according to the to the military code and crainer said to him john you're going to to die if you stay. there's no chance. and so you're exempt. you don't have to follow the code someone who's this badly hurt doesn't have to follow the military code you you can go. and mccain thought more about it. and he didn't go. and i tell you this story because flash forward quite a few years to when i went to his senate office and i saw his
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support for my confirmation as the sixth us ambassador to vietnam and he took me by the arm, and he took me over to a little framed telegram on his wall and there was one line under underscored and it said the warden that the warden in the hanoi prison offered freedom to senator to admiral mccain son and he said no he turned down the offer. and at the time i wondered why is he why is he showing me this? why is he showing this cable? and only gradually did i realize? it was telling me. he was as a human being it was telling me about the the single most important decision of his life. i think it's the one that made him who he was going forward that decision to choose honor country the code over his own
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life because he certainly was not expected to make it fortunately. i think fortunately he did make it he got out. years flash forward to 1991 he and senator john kerry. were on a flight they were on a boeing 757 flying to kuwait where they were going to as part of a congressional delegation observed the results of operation desert storm. now one was a democrat one was republican, but they were seated across from each other and kind of a tight seating arrangement almost need a knee. then they didn't particularly like each other mccain had campaigned against carrie when carrie had run for the senate they saw the war very differently one as i mentioned was a naval academy graduate. son and grandson of admirals i think to his death. he believed if we prosecuted the
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war differently we would have won. john kerry had took very different lessons from the war and when he came back he became known as a veteran who spoke out very vehemently against the war and so their were incredibly different. but they started a conversation on that overnight flight it lasted all night, and then it lasted for the next three decades if they made friends in the course of that long night, and then they made their friendship deepened as they worked together to overcome. the legacy of the war as they work together to try to bring about some reconciliation between two former enemies. they they realized that what they had to do to get the united states off the path that it was that then on. was to prove a negative. they had to prove that there weren't. american soldiers being held in cages in southeast asia and this
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is the era of you know, the rambo films. you may remember that ronald reagan was not a big fan of normalization of relations with vietnam. neither was bob dole. neither were many many veterans, but they decided they were going to prove that the vietnamese were actually quite helpful when it came to fullest possible accounting for those whom we'd lost in the war and they set up the senate select committee on pow mia affairs and then they went out and they worked really hard to to look at all the documents to find all the evidence to go everywhere. that leads took them. to see if there is anybody still alive. and what they discovered working with the vietnamese during this time of really a time of great estrangement. was the vietnamese were absolutely going to be cooperative. they had their own agenda. this wasn't all out of goodness their hearts, but they want they
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wanted a normal relationship with the united states and they were willing to to go as far as as necessary in order to help the select committee. complete its work. they did later on the president clinton made the decision to normalize relations, but my view is that relationship that started on that night on that plane. was really significant and the fact that they worked together against political interests really but in on the on behalf of their country, i think they're both deeply patriotic and they were doing what they believed and what i believe was the best for the united states was what what led us to reconcile to move a relationship from one of enmity to one of friendship and partnership. so when i look at this lesson, and and many of the other
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lessons of of that i learned while i was in vietnam the various times that dean ayers mentioned early in the relationship in the much later as ambassador. i think it's pretty clear what those senators and what others have taught us relationships matter. diplomacy is much more than transactional. there are some people who think diplomacy is about money and power. i won't name any names, but it's not it's about much more than that. it's about relationships. it's about building trust. and i the stories throughout this book are designed to show what it is when you take the time to show respect build trust and do things together do things together that matter because that doing things together whether it's in health environment education. that's what builds that trust and that's what enables partnership. so that's the first part of my
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discussion about building trust. the second part is about taking risks. and let's be blunt. it's not necessarily in a diplomats dna always to take risks a lot of times you rewarded not for taking risks, and you're not rewarded if you do take risks. but but i was i was in in vietnam, this is 2015. i'd been there for a few months. and i began to pick up something that really hadn't been in my notes or in my plan for the relationship. especially from someone i had grown to trust advice foreign minister hakim up. he happens to be the vietnam's ambassadors the united states today, but at that time he was vice forum minister and he told me more than once. he said the general secretary the communist party when fu cheung wants to go go to the united states.
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however, well okay, that's an unusual request, but it isn't really my problem because that's washington to work out. it's the white house that makes invitations to foreign leaders is not the ambassador. so very very interesting and i kind of took it on and reported back and went on with my business i kept hearing this i heard this from party leaders. i heard it from government leaders. and i began to grasp the significance of this request. land food charm was a hardliner. he was one of the the members of the vietnamese pilot beer who was leased. who seemed least amenable to a strong relationship with the united states he had risen to power as an expert on marxism leninism and ho chi minh thought he didn't really have that much time for capitalists. but he and he and other members of the central committee.
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had been swayed in their views somewhat and it wasn't by me. this was before actually it was a few months before i came ambassador the chinese. parked and oil rig on just off of vietnam's coast off the coast of denang in the exclusive economic zone. of the vietnamese and it was such a blatant bullying tactic to go and park this right off their coast. that the polymer and central committee began to think, you know, our usual means for working out disputes with the chinese aren't working perfectly. we've got a problem and we we really might need some some additional friendships in order to deal with this this problem. so the chinese interpreted this the fact that we were growing a little closer to vietnam as evidence of american meddling. i would say is evidence that
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bullying. pushed the vietnamese into the arms of the united states and it was our job to open our arms. in march, 2015 the minister of public security trying to decuang who later became the president of vietnam made a trip to the united states and i made sure he met with jay johnson who was head of homeland security at that time got other very important senior meetings. he was treated well. and and i briefed him before and then he came back and i realized as again it was a little slow, but it dawned on me. this is a warm-up act. he's going there to prepare for the general secretary's visit and another thing suddenly hit me. it was kind of a revelation. if i didn't do something about it, it wasn't going to happen. there was nobody in washington who was going to kind of save me and make this happen and make this visit the vietnamese wanted
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so much happened. it was it was up to me. i had to figure out and you know you when you're assigned overseas, you're supposed to follow your instructions, but i realized well this in this instance. i need to shape my instructions and i need to do that really fast. and so i contacted a friend. tommy valley who is chairman of the board of fulbright university of vietnam. he's at harvard. he's the head of the vietnam program at harvard. and i said tommy this is really important to the vietnamese to bring the general secretary of the communist party to washington, and he was very skeptical. he said no, he's a party. he's a party hack he's a part. sorry. i know we're on television, but he's a party leader. he shouldn't be, you know going to see the president united states in the oval office. that's not how it works. hi, so tommy, this is really really important. we have to figure out a way. so finally i persuaded him and
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he went and talked to secretary kerry we kind of went around the system and he talked to secretary kerry and persuaded secretary kerry of why this was so significant now there was still an obstacle the national security advisor is not a shrinking violet susan rice and she made really clear to me and she made really clear to john kerry. the president receives in the oval office heads of state not party leaders get it. but we didn't give up and john kerry took advantage of one of his regular lunches with the president to make the case directly to the president. and as he put it i got really beaten up for it, but i got the job done. and to her credit later when the visit happened she pulled me aside and said ted you were right. and i think a confident leader can admit when she's made a mistake. any case the the trip was now
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going to happen. and the chinese noticed they had enough intelligence to of all kinds to figure out that this was really going to happen. historic visit was going to take place. and so what did they do? they quickly invited the general secretary to come to beijing and he did. wise man he knew how to balance. competing interests and the chinese rolled out the red carpet forum visit very high on protocol. maybe not so high on substance next thing that happened was the defense secretary of the united states. ash carter came to vietnam. and we had what often happens when you have a big visit like that. we had a dinner and it had dancing. dancing from the central highlands. it was a beautiful dancing beautiful music and there was a lot of red wine. and as the red wine flowed they
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began to talk a little bit about families personal things and i think innocently enough ash carter asked secretary tang. how did you meet your wife? he said oh, well, she picked shrapnel out of my hip. and it didn't take too much imagination to figure out who put the shrapnel there and the on we went drank a little more red wine some very fine scotch came out. and you know, we can't it became quite jovial and secretary defense minister tang beamed and said, you know if we'd had a dinner like this back then there wouldn't have been a war. at that point it was really clear on south china sea the issue that mattered the most strategically we were on the same side as vietnam. and so the visit was on and the the parties external relations chief who reported to the
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general secretary published an op-ed in the washington post. and he wrote that the visit at the invitation of the president of the united states was a sign. of the united states's respect for vietnam's choice of political regime. this wasn't exactly how the united states had seen it tony blinken who was deputy secretary of state at the time wrote a blog post in which he said well great significance of this visit is it's an opportunity to include vietnam in the trans-pacific partnership. well fine. there's a little bit of cognitive dissonance, but i didn't diplomacy tried to figure out how everybody can get what their look looking for at least a little bit a little bit of what they wanted. so on this on the morning of july 7th. general secretary charm toured the the jefferson memorial it was beautiful. beautiful may day the title basin was glimmering. it was it was quite stunning and
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i had to think again. well, you know, why did he choose his first stop? ho chi minh had used thomas jefferson's words and when he declared independence from the japanese in 1941, he had written all he had said in bad and square all people are created equal. the creator has endowed them with inviable rights among these rights are the right to life the right to liberty and the right to the pursuit of happiness. sounds pretty familiar. so i go in and see dan crittenbrink. who was then the the senior director for asian affairs at the white house later became my successor as ambassador to vietnam and now as assistant secretary of state for east asia, and he said, ted what's the one thing that the president needs to say to the general secretary? and i said he needs to say the united states rep respects
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different political systems. and that's all he needs to say he says that. this will be seen as an opportunity to build trust. they'll know we're not trying to overthrow them. we had tried that before and we had failed and and it will it will allow this relationship to move forward. unfettered by mistrust and and on the other side, i'd urge the the my friends in the party. to tell the general secretary not what to say, but how does how to speak to the president united states? i said put down the notes look them in the eye. this is a human being forget the notes talk to him like a like a human being and he did miraculously he did and this what was supposed to be a 45 minute set piece meeting went on for an hour and a half. it broke historic ground. the president said those keywords. that the united states respect. different political systems. he also said a lot about what we
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needed. he talked about tpp. he was very clear on human rights. he said this is just who we are we have our own challenges when it comes to human rights, but this is just who we are. and he had been very well prepared for this meeting my contrast that later on somebody else, but that they made in they made it this meeting built trust between two human beings to to leaders of countries and and broke ground and enabled us to just take off in the relationship for the next i would say until today. that was what set i on a new trajectory. they they made up there were other agreements that they achieved but the most important line and the joint statement was the two countries agreed to respect different political systems. and joe biden who was vice president at the time quoted wen
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zhu the great poet and writer of vietnam. triconder economy tension down move and my try thank heaven. we are here today to see the sun through parting fog and clouds. there's there's symbolism in this because this is this is what bill clinton had done when he normalized relations and went to vietnam the first time he quoted and we ensue. a great poet and showed respect by doing that so much so that when the when jill biden visited later the the first lady of vietnam had made for her a kainan, you know, the conical hat and it etched those words inside. so inhaled it up to the light you could see those words. they also agreed to establish for bright university. they agreed the general
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secretary agreed that there would be academic freedom fill rate university. this had not happened before and they joined the tpp. and in so doing they agreed to have a there's a side letter that said we will have there will be freedom of association for the workers of vietnam. now, this is got the capitalist told the communists how they ought to be treating their workers and the vietnamese swallowed this and went ahead. and it was the most significant human rights agreement we have ever achieved with vietnam, and it's a direct result of that visit. this was this was a huge step for the vietnamese in terms of their future prosperity their independence and it was a huge step when it came to trade and even though we pulled out of tpp they didn't and they are benefiting from that agreement, but we're not benefiting from
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the the side letter on on human rights because once the us pulled out a worker's rights once the us pulled out that was no longer no longer possible. so i can i concluded that. and i have to say this was not what i'd planned but the most consequential accomplishment of my time as ambassador was getting the general secretary of the communist party into the oval office other things were wonderful the three days when when barack obama was in the in in vietnam was visiting vietnam. those were the highlights of my 30 years as a diplomat those three days. it was very very exciting, but that wouldn't have happened or wouldn't have been so substantive the forward movement on trade on security on the environment on health on all of the things that have made up the sinews of this relationship. they wouldn't have happened if he hadn't. if he hadn't gone, so my lesson
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is sometimes it's worthwhile to take a risk. thank you very much. so we're doing over here, okay. carefully arranged our chairs six feet six feet apart and we're taking off our maps. getting wired up. i'm doing wired up. he went out and get a glass of wine if you need. okay. i'm wired up. i think we can go. well ambassador, may i call you ted at this point? is that right? you i actually first met ted osius in ubud in bali at the the ubud writers festival. he was the deputy chief of mission and i was there as a
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moderator of sessions at the ubud writers festival and so he and his husband clayton had had a wonderful dinner for all the americans. who were there. there were a number of us. so for me, it's very exciting to get to be here to talk about this book with you. it seems incredibly fitting since this is sort of how we met in this in this in this context. this is a wonderful book you all have to buy it and it's out there and and ted is also willing to sign it which is great and and i you you are absolutely right. it is a book of stories, but there's also a fascinating amount of history and background and you know, just listening to you speak is it seems like so many times the us just sort of miss the boat with vietnam that somehow we didn't really understand what was going on there. you mentioned the relationship with china and your book is tell us a little bit about the historic relationship with china and the people of vietnam. well, it goes back a long time
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many millennia and there were 900 years where vietnam was part of china and this it is in the dna of every vietnamese citizen to resist foreign domination and the number one existential challenge to the vietnamese has always throughout their history been china not france. not not the united states. yes, they fought they fought wars with others and with cambodia and there's been plenty of conflict, but the every single village in vietnam has streets named after tranhungdao and the haibatrong and no queen and the great heroes who fought the chinese always their people who fought the fought the chinese. yes, ho chi minh and general zap are also heroes, but there aren't streets named after them in every village the streets named after those who fought the
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chinese and you know i had to think. did nobody tell president kennedy or president johnson that that the domino theory does just doesn't really apply here. they're not going to follow. the the chinese this is not in their history. it's not it's a it's totally counter to their dna and what i've concluded is that one of the one of the results of mccarthyism was that the state department had been wiped clean of people who really knew the region? and so there weren't people around to kind of check the not so good instincts of mcnamara and and others who continued to advise two presidents to dig in deeper. right, so i think i think we made an enormous error that we didn't need to make. yeah, it comes through so clearly in your book and i i was actually staggered by that.
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i thought this is unbelievable that this this unintended consequence of getting rid of all the experts on these asia. yes would have this effect and and you write a lot about this. there's a lot of wonderful and deep background. i mean the fact that ho chi minh was quoting thomas jefferson. yes, like, how did we not did we not know that i wrote seven times to harry truman saying, what about independence for what about self-determination now, what about these things that you say you stand for seven times? those letters were not answered. i don't think ever reached harry truman. yeah. yeah, it's just fascinating the just sort of how i mean you make it so clear that that what vietnam just wanted was independence independence from from china from japan from france from the united states that that was the goal and that somehow we completely misread this it was nationalism. it was the desire to be
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independent and i don't think it even really mattered that much that they were communists i think in the end. i mean, it's not a particularly communist country now, it's it's very energetically capitalist. it is one party system, right, but it's a very energetically capitalist entrepreneurial one party system. yeah, i guess it's that well i got to actually visit as a state department speaker while you were there and and talked at the vietnam news agency and it was i agree with you. i mean the cliche that people say as well we lost the war but we won the peace. yes, and you have this i never knew you talk about a survey that said that more than 90% of vietnamese today consider the us to be vietnam's closest friend ninety percent. yes, that's just astonished. it's phenomenal. it's quite phenomenal. so let me tell just a little story. i professor steel mentioned. and dean ayers mentioned that i
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like to bike and that i biked from north to south in vietnam. and i stopped on the way in what was once the dmz on a bridge? and i was looking out over the landscape and there were all these ponds that i saw and there was a woman standing next to me a little bit older. and and i said, well why why are there so many ponds they're sort of there's a sort of a strange assortment of ponds here. and she said well, that's where the americans drop their bombs and then she started to tell me how many members how many people in her village were killed by the americans and how many members of our family and then i do, you know, we started to really hurt. he is being she's being honest. i've got to be too. i said while i'm an american and and i work for the embassy i represent the united states. and she said homnight sometim.
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vietnamese language is very familiar and intimate you're always different. there's no you there's how you are related in the family. she was saying we are older sister younger, brother. not excellent, you know not excellency or sir or anything like that older sister younger brother and that to me embodies the spirit. it's this willingness to to move forward to look to look forward and and put the past. put that pass behind them. we had a much harder time doing that in the vietnamese did right, and i have to say when you tell this wonderful story in your book. you tell it in the several times, but in once in the context of your hearing to be confirmed and and you say that you had to be your mother told you not to say that at the hearing because you might tear up and so you had to practice had several times that we hear i get even this is a lie numbers later. no, i get a little reclent when
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i tell that story because it's to me it's so powerful. this is why he was the people's ambassador. it's just clear. i mean that you care so much and and i think that just that comes through so clearly how much you care. how you you lobbied for this for the job you wanted the job. it was the dream your dream to that was my dream to have a lifetime. yeah. yeah. it's really incredible that there's so much that before they're a bunch of things. i want to ask you about but one other about the chinese. was about about this this amazing war strategy the vietnamese had to impact you. okay, the there's a place called the bakdang river. three great battles were fought in the baktang river two in the 10th century and one in the 13th, and they were they were waged by these generals who later became emperors of vietnam. whose names are on everyone
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every single village every single city and every single village in vietnam. and each one of them used it was different there were they had different adversaries chinese twice mongolians once but each one of them used the same strategy. they put these wooden stakes these big wooden stakes tipped with iron into the mud. and they lured chinese twice mongolians once to that area when the tide was high and then when the tide came down the the ships were impaled on these these spikes. now you think people would learn this is what the vietnamese do they use the power of their enemy. against him think about that french they used the power of the french where the immensely powerful nation at that time. against french they used the
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power of the united states against us. they were weaker smaller just as they were against the chinese and against the mongolian, but they used the same self-im strategy again and again and again, and we you know, they knew the ho chi minh said you may lose one for every 10 that i lose, but i will win and you will lose. you rented you wrote when the chinese fleet moved into attack they did so at high tide when the tide went down and the water receded the stakes pierced their hulls sinking every vessel the strategy of allowing the strong to use its own power for self-impment is not a single event, but a pattern. yes boy. i highlighted that the allowing the strong to use its own power for self-impment. that's sort of yeah. anyways, well a story of a lot of wars, isn't it? the i was interested is there's so many things you talk about
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sort of you talk about two different flags and how these flags had this significance in your tenure as ambassador one. is that pow mia flag in this the sort of the idea out there that there still must be americans missing and you know, i and you know the whole rambo thing the reagan thing and that i think there's still probably people who think there must americans who think there must be pows and then the missing and then other flag is the yellow flag of south vietnam and tell that story. that's a that's a very interesting. that was an interesting diplomatic moment for you. well one of the things yeah one of the things that any us ambassador vietnam needs to do is go and talk to vietnamese americans because that's their 2.2 million americans of vietnamese origin and that's incredibly important constituency for the relationship. so i did this many times and one
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time in orange county. and i this is this was the country to which i was credited. it has a red flag matty yellow flag a woman came up, and she wanted to put the yellow flag around me and i around my shoulders and i asked that she not do that because i said if you do that, you're going to make it really hard for me to do the things i want to do in vietnam promote human rights move the relationship forward. and that became translated as i forbade any display of the yellow flag, which certainly not what i did but i i didn't i didn't want to be photographed with the yellow flag. and yet i understood the significance of that for a lot of people after one of these encounters. i think there are 500 people in this audience 500 million people yet. and i spoke to them in vietnamese made fun of my northern accent and tried to loosen things up just a little
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bit and ed royce was chairman at the time said you did a good job investor, and then people wanted to come up and talk to me and a man came up and he grabbed my lapels and he said ambassador in vietnamese ambassador. i spent 11 years. in a re-education camp and i set up so sorry. i'm sorry for your suffering. i'm sorry for what you've lost and he held on again. he said ambassador. i spent 11 years in a re-education camp. i said, i'm so sorry. you know, i'm i'm the us ambassador to to vietnam. i would is there any anything i can can do to help ambassador? i spent 11 years in a re-education camp. it occurred to me. he wanted those years back. i couldn't do that. i couldn't do that and i could i could only sympathize with someone he was probably in a 70s. he had seen that yellow flag
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come down. he'd fought for that flag for years and years and years. he had seen it come down and never never went back up. and he is reconciliation is not possible for him and there are people for whom it's not possible. it's just suffered two two much, but i also think mccain and carrie were right. we owe it to both countries to continue to pursue reconciliation, even though it's hard. and then there were others you talk about one man. i think he was also in houston who said so what can i do? yes, and and what did you say? so it was a woman and it was a gathering of very hard line. nami agopia in houston. that was one of of the toughest communities i met. and i sort of explained what we were trying to do and she said yes, she said that how can how can we help? and i thought it took courage for her say that in front of that group.
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how can we help and i said education. i think the one thing you can do. it's not political if you want young vietnamese to have a different set of opportunities from what their parents parents and grandparents had then education and that's what led me to full wright university vietnam because i so believed if you could have if you could have advanced especially advanced education that opened up people's minds and allowed them to think critically. well, then you make change possible. where would that change lead? i don't know exactly know but i know you won't have that change if you don't aren't opening people's minds and this is also a light motif in your book. i think the idea that that non-political things like education and health that this is really the way to work toward reconciliation that you find as you said earlier in your talk common ground that you you're always looking for common interests. what can we what can we do together? and then you work on other things that's what builds trust
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and i mentioned hakim law the former vice for minister who said it was so important for friendly and futurama to go to the oval office. he also said something that i listened to in my first weeks. he said if we can move this relationship from bilateral cooperation to regional and global collaboration on issues that matter we will transform it. and that's what we did. you know, that's what we worked together on hell on public health. we worked together on the environment. we work together on peacekeeping the vietnamese who suffered so much then started contributing to global peacekeeping and we worked together on education and i think that's what allowed us to take off. well, it's interesting your history with the vietnamese community in the united states because well, you ended up resigning the foreign service because of the trump administration's policy on repatriating 8, vietnamese vietnamese in america, would you explain that story a little bit? it's so lots of things i didn't
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like i didn't like the withdrawal from tpp. i felt like we threw away our best leverage the great negotiator through way the best leverage we possibly could have and dealing with chinese and asia. and i really didn't like or withdrawal from the paris court on climate change. i'd been working hard throughout my career to do what i could on on climate change. and i hated the muslim ban, and i was like one thing after another and i offered to resign and my offer was rejected and my team said investor you think was you think we needed you before we really need you now. you got to try to keep the ship steady for a little while longer and i thought well, i will as long as as i can do it without crossing impossible economic. and possible ethical lines because i want to be able to look at my kids and say papa did the right thing. so then it came really it came home. during the spring and the summer
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of 2017. i began to get these instructions to facilitate the deportation of vietnamese americans from the united states, and these were sometimes people they had there might have had deportation orders because they'd stolen a car or been involved in a gang when they were teenagers one was a guy named twan who had come over. he was a boat person come over on a boat and and he had gotten involved in a gang and and he had made some mistakes, but he'd done his time. and he had built this supermarket with with 50 employees. he was paying a couple million dollars in taxes each year. he's really successful business three kids and you know, he'd moved on from the days of carjacking. and not only did they put him in in prison again. but they they went ahead and
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deported him to a country that he didn't know anything about. i mean he may maybe spoke a little bit of vietnamese, but he'd been loyal to a yellow flag and there was this other flag in vietnam and they went ahead and deported him and they deported and this was this was in in motion when i was still ambassador they were going to deport amorrations children of our soldiers. there was this massive push by stephen miller to deport yellow people that's what it was about if they were norwegians. it wouldn't happened. it was race. it was it was racism at its ugliest and i just thought there can be nothing more un-american than this and i will not do this. and so i tried everything i could inside to slow it down. i stuck sticks in the spokes of that bicycle state. he acknowledges. yeah, he's in the deep state at that point. i slowed it on i kept telling them. listen if you the president's
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coming in november if you do this, you're going to totally mess up his trip. he's going to look bad. the president is going to look bad and they told me vietnamese told me at one point because we were threatening to withdraw port courtesies from vietnamese officials, and i delivered that message in the vietnamese officials said well fine, then we won't go you disrespect us. we're not going and then the visit would have been a disaster the president united states would have come and it would have been a disaster. so i used that i wrote to rex tillerson multiple times. i wrote to mcmaster i wrote to jim mattis. i kept pushing back and saying this is going to harm this relationship don't you can't do it. i didn't get an answer until after i resign the answer was from rex tillerson. he said we're going to go ahead and do this, but i just i couldn't i i thought it was so wrong and so on american i couldn't support it and and then the job of a diplomat is you you carry out the instructions
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produced by a democratic. until the day comes when you can't and then you got to go and so i went and i didn't write about it until after i left office, but after i left office i did write about because i thought people don't even know this is happening. this is steven miller operating in the dark whispering in the presidency year. and people don't know and i got the word out and there was a fair amount of media and four members of congress the california in california republicans lost their jobs in in districts that were heavily vietnamese american so i don't think people did like what the administration was doing in secret, but it took bringing it out into the open right and there there's in ted's book. there's a wonderful description of your visit to the i gather your one and only visit to the oval office in the trump white house and it is it's a humdinger so i won't spoil that one, but i
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would say it's worth buying ted's book just to read that and so here's some of the things that the president of the united states said in your in unbelievable or perhaps not unbelievable, but that's that. i don't want a spoiler alert. i'm not going i won't spoil it. so you have to buy the book. so what did happen? i mean how many of i tried to figure this out google this yesterday and i didn't get very far how many vietnamese were deported ultimately. do you have any idea i have not been able to get that answer i've continued to ask i believe that it slowed down to a trickle. it looked like that. i don't think it has ever stopped 100% yeah, because the there's the other problem with the deep state once you're once you've turned that ship in particular direction, it's hard to turn it back right, but i think it's slowed down to a very very tiny number. that's what it looked like the last date i saw was 2018 and it there was still numbers in the teens sort of yes, and i
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submitted a bunch of statements. i have people and some of the we managed legal especially lawyers working pro bono. yeah, we're able to stop some of the deportes. it's interesting because you don't make the connection in your book, but i'm fascinated by all the times that you spoke with the vietnamese community in the united states, you know, who didn't approve of the the new government of vietnam and then what you actually did to support them. i mean, i you just love vietnam and vietnamese people. well the other the final thing i want to ask and i know that we have a bunch of questions out. there is i am fascinated by your your activism on this topic and also on gay and lesbian rights, and you founded gleefa. i didn't know that's how we pronounced it. i wasn't sure back when well, you could you certainly couldn't be appointed an ambassador. if you were gay you would lose your security clearance. yeah, and that's recently as recently as what the 880s right or yeah is recently is the 80. no actually until the second
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term of bill clinton, right? so mid 90s, right? yeah, so we founded glyph i met my husband through glyphos. so a good things came with our organization, but also we changed part we managed to change policy in the state department. so i have friends who were in the audience who will remember that i never hid who i was but i certainly didn't really i don't really want them to find out we the membership list of our organization. we kept secret because we knew that if diplomatic security found it it all lose our security clearances and lose the ability to operate and we had a very simple goal. we we wanted non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and that did finally happen at the end of bill clinton's first term in office. so that's not that long ago. think about it, but at that time, no you couldn't possibly imagine an out gay person becoming an ambassador. yeah flash forward.
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i had you know, i had some delays in my confirmation, but nothing that had to do with my sexual orientation. it's just not an issue. i spoke vietnamese. i was qualified and and i went through and a few months after we've been there for a few months. and the supreme court made the decision of the overgraphical decision that made we've been married in canada, but made our marriage legal can all 50 states and at that moment i got a letter from ruth bader ginsburg who said i want to come to vietnam. can i stay with you bet? yes, please. come stay with us and she did and a friend of mine said well, why don't you ask her to renew
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your vaps and we've been married for 10 years at that point and i thought well that so hotspot, but i asked her and she said sure i will do that. so she renewed our vows in the living room of the residents and we had our children by that they were there were still little they were they were one and two and man so much we had thought about it as kind of a political gesture to show young people in vietnam. you can have a family in a job and you can be gay you can be yourself and it turned out it was really meaningful to us because you know, we had these children and we knew what marriage meant at that point by then. we really understood what what marriage meant and our children are kind of living proof. we know the responsibilities of of and so it was very powerful powerful for us. you tell a wonderful there's a whole set of stories about being an ambassadorial charm school,
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which i didn't know existed, but that's worth reading about too and the director of fsi asked you do you want to be known as the gay ambassador or would you rather be considered the best ambassador? and how did you how did you answer that? what how did yeah. well, and i had to think about it pretty quickly because the first a few months later. i was going to land and you know this very conservative society. so i thought well i don't know how this is going to work out, but i'm going to be me because that's all i know how to do and so we i did a video where i didn't entirely in vietnamese where i introduced myself and my family to the people of vietnam and it kind of went viral one because i spoke vietnamese and two because our son was really really cute and so that video went all over the place and then when we arrived the first picture that the vietnamese people saw was me with my
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african-american husband and my my a then 85 year old mother and our toddler child, and i think that helped because we were a three generational family. and that was something to vietnamese could relate to won't zaiden batehe a three generational family because that's what you want to have in a in a home. and so people related to that and the fact that we were gay. i don't think ended up making much of a difference that there were we were just we were welcome. we were really welcome even in that very conservative society although it made a huge difference to a number of young gay and lesbian vietnamese. it did. yeah. yeah. well, i've dominated i got moderators privilege here, and i know we have questions from the floor and we also have some questions from the zoom audience if first priority goes to those of you who came here if you have a question, would you step up to the microphone please you mean we need to record this for posterity and please say your
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name and who you are just so we you from? hello ambassador. so thank you very much for what you have done to. countries and then my name is the big chun from the university of antwa and i also a junk fellow at the csis service asia program. so, you know in your book you wrote that the you know, the the content of the us vietnam partnership already strategic. it's not just in the name yet and then you know the vietnamese ambassador to the united states are giving up also said that's the real terms already, but you know still in in the you know within the relationship which in the united states and vietnam then or strategic partnership is still a higher level than a comprehensive charge to the partnership. so my question is that in your view, you know in the future
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when the two countries, you know actually upgrade their relationship to strategic partnership then how will it look like, especially in defense corporation and intelligent shar. thank you. thank you. thanks very much. so my view is that the vietnamese have been quite practical and it's kind of like lin futon going to beijing before we went to the oval office. they know they have to balance relations with us with relations with the 800 pound. gorilla the nation of one point two billion on their northern border with which they've had so many wars including recent one in the 19, you know, 1979's and 1991 people forget thousands of people died every year during that border war so they know how much pain china can inflict on that. and the change in name of that partnership would cause all kinds of pain and it wouldn't get them anything because we already have a strategic
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partnership. how come up is absolutely right? it's already strategic we are doing they're doing more on in the military realm with us than with any other nation by a long shot. they we're their number one export market the you know, the numbers are all going up in terms of our engagement with vietnam. so the strategic partnership already exists just doesn't have that name because it would cost so much trouble to their north. so i think that the relationship going forward. has no real ceiling. there's no limit to what is possible in this relationship, but it has to it has a pace. and they can't surge too fast because it will cause vietnam a lot of problems. and you know, they they want they're going to limit they're going to keep it going at a kind of moderate pace. so for example the aircraft carriers every other year now, that was unthinkable when it
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first happened a visit to danang by an us aircraft carrier 5,000 sailors coming to board that hadn't happened since the war but we made that happen and there will be more every other year, but they won't do it too fast because it would cause huge problems. so my view is it'll keep going and just add a moderate pace. thank you. my name is jim bullock. i'm a retired pd officer and read about the same time. i joined the service i married a french woman and she had an uncle who actually had been a captive at the nbn foo and so going back to paris a lot over all the years lots of vietnamese in france now. i'm just curious if you maybe you didn't treat that maybe that's all you know before the vietnam war. i didn't reality but i'm just kind of curious about comparing contrast. we try to spend as pd officers. we try to get libraries open in english teaching. well the french had french libraries it and the military back when i was in you know in the military they were teaching
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us to learn french to go to vietnam not vietnamese was a lot easier for one thing, but just maybe any observations at all. what did we do right that the french didn't the french laws to war the french had tremendous soft power investment. they had all kind of opportunities they could have built on. but they didn't just maybe some observations. well, i i write about dnb. to in the book because i feel like it's such a pivotal moment that i do a kind of a flashback to understand to explain a little bit. what kind of vietnamese thinking there is because i think it helps us to understand what what followed the the language of french has pretty much disappeared from vietnam and that was so that was so critical to the french that exporting the language. they're still people eat ban me with the bond is the word for bread and they you know, they're still vestiges but only only
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very elderly people tend to speak french every young person. wants to speak english. i mean you find that everywhere. i think what one of the things we did is. you know, we're the center of entrepreneurship entrepreneurship is valued in vietnam very much and it is it's a one of our exports. so i think the fact that we kind of stand for entrepreneurship and dynamism and energy has has what has helped us the most and then i think the internet there's been much more interest in young people among young people in vietnam in learning about the united states and other parts of the world, but first of all, the united states through the internet and the vietnamese made a vietnamese leadership made a decision early on well, let's not do what the chinese did and we're not going to put up a great firewall. so the internet has flourished businesses have flourished on
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the internet facebook their 70 million people on facebook in in a country of a hundred million. and so i feel like our culture has been exported through multiple means now we do also have done a lot in the field of education, which i'm really proud of so our moocs we would do these massive online courses through the american centers and in hanoi and in saigon, which we're always crazily over subscribed entrepreneurship was one of the top subjects that that people wanted to learn. so i think we've done a lot of things right in public in the world of public diplomacy. i'd like to see us keep moving forward in terms of technology in it. i'll just one quick digression but in indonesia, we created something called ad america, which is this very dynamic hip space where we use a lot of technology to bring people together and that has flourished. in indonesia, the world's
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largest muslim majority nation we could do something like that. it doesn't cost that much we could do that in other countries, and i think it would be very very impactful. so we need to keep updating our tools. so we just did well the french says yeah, well, i think there are. i think they also their time as colonial power. they weren't all that interested. they talked about mission civil latrice, but they weren't really all that interested in raising up the people of vietnam creating opportunities for the people of vietnam. they were much more interested in what they could that what they could take back. yeah. i'm done with i'm the four year which the student in economics at job mason and answer. i answer received the master public policy from vietnam from the right school. and i just have simple question
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for you. just what make you feel the most beautiful. when you left vietnam the most what beautiful? beautiful beautiful beautiful. yeah pitiful well, i think there were things we didn't do fast enough. so the things that maybe things i like things i regret. because i don't think i don't think anything in vietnam is pitiful. i think i was quite magnificent. i love it, but i do have some regrets. we were too slow to clean up agent orange. that's probably my biggest regret. i did all i could as ambassador to keep moving things forward, but there are people there were people until quite recently. families living in places where the water was soaked with dioxin still eating fish out of out of rivers where dioxin had entered
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into the flesh of those fish. he actually got a question about that on the and hold it. yeah from charles bailey who writes reconciliation is about people in the vietnamese are still deeply concerned about their victims of agent orange the us does provide health and disability assistance to disabled vietnamese in areas that were heavily sprayed with agent orange, but it's described as regardless of cause is there any way to reconcile this disconnect between viet? is feelings about the heavy impact of agent orange and the us helpful, but hesitant approach what to the vietnamese think about the way ahead. so charles is my hero. he he took. talk about taking risks. he took huge risks in order to expose the truth about agent orange he invested in sound science to show where the hot spots were. and and because of charles's work and because the work of the ford foundation and later he went to the aspen institute. the united states had had to
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kind of finally fess up and deal with the consequences of agent orange. not only among our veterans but in vietnam as well, we haven't finished and he's total the premise of the question is absolutely right. we haven't finished what i was telling this gentleman about is that there was a place it was there were places off of beyondhua. airfield which was the third and largest of the hotspots that charles researched where people until recently were still living and eating and kids were playing in and being exposed to daxton and dax and once it gets in your system. it's not only there forever for you, but for your children your grandchildren and we now think to the fourth generation, so those kids that i saw where we hadn't cleaned up yet. they were condemned and their families were condemned. so it hurt, you know, because we
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were so so slow because of bureaucratics more than anything else. we didn't have enough money to do it. all using usaid funds we needed money from dod to clean up the mess that the military had created and it took a long time and it took people like charles it took patrick leahy tim reser it took other people who were just determined that we do the right thing who just didn't let go and charles didn't never never has let go and what he has been arguing. is that okay? so now we're finally in the stages where we're finishing the cleanup so they don't have to be more victims. but what about all those people? who are lives are already greatly curtailed by their exposure to agent orange. don't we have a responsibility there? and we do the bottom line is we do and we have focused our assistance in places that were most heavily sprayed.
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but we have also limited now. i think there's another part of the question where he said what do you need to do to kind of reconcile the two views and i think sound science is best. it was sound science that led us to to clean up. the dacsin that still existed in the three hotspots and i think sound research and science will show that actually not all the birth defects in vietnam result of agent agent orange there. there's a high incidence of birth defects in vietnam and some of the birth defectors result of age in orange, but not all and there's been a tendency to lump. you know, it's everybody who has a birth defect got it because of the americans. well, that's not accurate. and i think it's better to make decisions based on science when people said if you don't there's there's unexploded ordinance lettering the entire country. there's no way you can go in
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vietnam where there isn't time to explode ordinance. well, that's not true. there are places where it's concentrated and where you have to work very hard to make to make sure that it is cleaned up and that's in train. and there isn't agent orange everywhere their age. there's agent orange in these hotspots if you were. ignore science and say it's soaking the fields in the produce everywhere. well, how would vietnam ever turn around but if you focus on where it actually is and where people have actually been affected then you can do something about it. so i i like science-based decision making thank you. hi, my name is farrell latif. i'm a research fellow at the center for public affairs the george mason university and well, thank you for your wonderful discussion and wonderful storytelling. i've many questions, but i've
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boiled them down to two first time wondering about building trust you talk about building trust with vietnamese and trust is a two-way process. so i'm wondering if you can tell us a little bit about what did you experience? and what did the vietnamese do to earn your trust? and my second question is a little different and it's about whether you have any lessons for us china relationship from your experience with vietnam. thank you. thanks very much. answer your first question in a slightly different way not about what they did to earn my trust but what vietnamese did to earn the trust of namely ebook yet vietnamese americans because i think that's really important. there's still a lot of mistrust between that community and the nation of especially the
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leadership of vietnam. so there's a cemetery out near this this base the bianwai former bianca. airbase is called bien hoi cemetery and a lot of people who fought for the south are buried in that cemetery. and when i arrived it was a mess there were tree roots growing through the graves and sometimes when it rained really heavily the graves would wash away they weren't being honored and in vietnamese tradition, it's really important to honor the dead and be able to go back to where they've been. buried and pay respects and so i went to leadership in hanoi and said what about letting this american ngo? clean up this cemetery it will build a lot of trust that will allow vietnamese who suffer great vietnamese americans except for great losses to feel more trust if you do that isn't
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just about money. it isn't just about welcoming and welcoming american investment. it's also about building trust and the first answer i got was that's really really difficult. so but i am pretty stubborn and i went back and i went to the chairman of benzung province where it's located and i said listen, we're investing your province. we're doing everything i kept the real reason. i came to see you chairman. is that cemetery? what about just letting them chop some cut some tree roots and dig some ditches. that's all it is not flags not symbols. not this, you know, the people who lost in the people who won just ditches and tree roots. he said let me see what i can do. and so he didn't say no. he obviously consulted with an ori because this was this was sensitive. this is the losing side. think about our civil war. now. look how long we're still not over it and it took us very very long time before we were able to
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honor those who were lost on the losing side. well hanoi isn't so different. but they let it happen. i got a friend told me a few months after i left. they've dug the ditches and they've cut down the trees and they trimmed the tree roots, and those people are honored. that's another wonderful. that's trust light motif in the book. i'm so sorry. we're actually out of time. so in china, that's a huge answer good question. huge answer. i apologize to the people online. i sort of been ignoring you but them and and perhaps you can ask your question once we're done, but we do need to end. it has been such a pleasure and this book is really wonderful and it's for sale out there and that is willing to stay around and sign it and so let's all thank ambassador ocs for this really wonder. thank you. thanks for those online.
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