U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam: Who Is Ted Osius?
On June 24, 2014, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the nomination of Ted Osius III to be U.S. ambassador to Vietnam to the full Senate for consideration. It would be the first ambassadorial post for Osius, a career Foreign Service officer. Osius is the seventh openly gay person to be nominated by President Barack Obama to be an ambassador.
Osius is from Maryland, but attended The Putney School in Vermont, graduating in 1979. He went to Harvard, where he wrote for the Harvard Crimson and researched and edited some of the books in the “Let’s Go” travel series. After graduating in 1984 with a B.A. in social studies, he served as an intern at the American University in Cairo for a year. While he was in Egypt, his father, Dr. Ted Osius, a urologist, died of a heart attack while duck hunting. The Sailing Club of the Chesapeake, of which the elder Osius was an active member, created the Ted Osius Memorial Regatta, which is still held annually.
Following that, he went to work for then-Senator Al Gore (D-Tennessee) as legislative correspondent from 1985 to 1987.
Interested in a career in diplomacy, Osius took but did not pass the Foreign Service exam. He then went to Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies, graduating with an M.A. in international economics and U.S. foreign policy in 1989. He took the exam again and passed it, joining the Foreign Service that year.
Osius’ first posting was to Manila, from 1989 to 1991. Other early assignments included the Vatican and the United Nations.
In 1996, Osius was among the first U.S. diplomats to work in Vietnam since the end of the U.S. war there. The following year, he helped set up the U.S. consulate in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). While there, he travelled 1,200 miles by bicycle from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.
Osius returned to Washington in 1998 to serve as a senior advisor on international affairs to Gore, who by then was vice president of the United States, working on subjects including Asia, international economics and trade issues.
Osius went back to Indochina in 2001 as regional environmental affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. While in Thailand he had a book, The U.S.-Japan Security Alliance: Why It Matters and How To Strengthen It, published. The book, which is still available, examines the U.S. role as Japan’s military protector.
In 2004 he was back in Washington as deputy director in the State Department’s Office of Korean Affairs in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
That year was also significant in Osius’ personal life. He met Clayton Bond at a Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies meeting. Bond was then a watch officer in the State Department’s operations center. They were married in 2006 in Vancouver, Canada.
They were posted together that year in the embassy in New Delhi, India, where Osius was the political minister-counselor. In 2008 he was a poll observer for Bhutan’s first democratic election.
In 2009, Osius was named the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. In his first year there, he helped coordinate relief efforts after the West Sumatra earthquake.
Osius returned to Washington in 2012 to work as a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a foreign policy think tank. In 2013, he became an associate professor at the National Defense University.
During his confirmation hearing, Osius told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the time is coming to consider lifting U.S. restrictions on arms sales to Vietnam, which currently buys most of its weaponry from Russia.
Osius speaks Vietnamese, French and Italian, as well as a bit of Arabic, Hindi, Thai, Japanese and Indonesian. He and Bond have a son.
To Learn More:
Ted Osius (American University in Cairo)
A Lifetime in the American Foreign Service (SAIS Observer)
State Department Cables (WikiLeaks)
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