Foreign Affairs

Living History with Ambassador Alexander Vershbow

Finding Ways to See Eye to Eye: Navigating Through Strained Relationships

This Living History interview features an interview with Alexander “Sandy” Vershbow, the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea (2005-2008). He also served as the deputy secretary general of NATO (2012-2016), the U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs (2009-2012), the U.S. ambassador to Russia (2001-2005), and the U.S. ambassador to NATO (1998-2001). 

Ambassador Vershbow reflects on how his experiences with NATO helped shape his work on bolstering the U.S.-ROK alliance during his post in South Korea and his thoughts on the current U.S. attitude towards its allies. He also tells personal accounts of his role in navigating strained relationships between U.S. president George W. Bush and ROK president Roh Moo-hyun while trying to negotiate key policies such as the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) as well as how circumstances at the time led to major riots in South Korea. 

Ambassador Vershbow goes on to reveal his “diplomatic secret weapon” and unconventional ways he was able to establish rapport with South Korean citizens after a rocky start to his post as the U.S. ambassador to South Korea. Please see below for more on this unique and personal interview with Ambassador Vershbow.