U.S. Senate Confirms First Political Ambassador to Thailand in 47 Years

 

We missed this one last year. On July 15, 2019, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate Michael George DeSombre to be the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand. The U.S. Senate confirmed his nomination on January 8, 2020.
This position has traditionally been encumbered by a senior career diplomat of the U.S. Foreign Service. We have to go back all the way to 1973 to locate a political appointee to this position. Retired U.S. Army officer William Roscoe Kintner (1915–1997) who served during World War II and during the Korean conflict was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Thailand from November 29, 1973–March 15, 1975 under Presidents Nixon and Ford’s tenures. Since AFSA started tracking the ambassadorial appointments going back to 1960, only two political appointees made it to Thailand as chief of mission out of a total of 18 confirmed appointees (data as of 2016).
Ambassador-designate DeSombre’s predecessors at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok includes Career Ambassador Kristie Ann Kenney (1955–), five times ambassador John Gunther Dean (1926–); Career Ambassador Morton Isaac Abramowitz (1933–), and two times Ambassador Charles Sheldon Whitehouse (1926–2001), the father of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island).

His Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)  below via state.gov:

Michael George DeSombre is globally recognized as a preeminent authority on mergers and acquisitions and high profile negotiations.  A partner in the law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell since 2004, Mr. DeSombre leads their mergers and acquisition practice in Asia where he has been resident for over 20 years.  His extensive representation of American and other international clients has honed his skills as a negotiator opposite Chinese and other Asian counterparties.  Mr. DeSombre is active in the region’s intellectual and philanthropic communities and deeply involved in the American community in Asia.  His keen understanding of Asia, extensive network of contacts and ability to bridge the legal, financial and policy worlds make him an excellent candidate for Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand.

Mr. DeSombre serves on the board of the Hong Kong Forum which seeks to promote the exchange of ideas between scholars and policymakers worldwide and to foster communication between the United States and China.  In addition, as Chairman of the Board of Save the Children Hong Kong since 2015, he has substantially grown and professionalized the organization.  He is a 19-year member of the American Club in Hong Kong and served on the Board of Governors for five years (the term limit).  He is an active supporter of the USA Rugby team and, as the Worldwide President of Republicans Overseas, Inc. since 2013, he refocused the organization to address key concerns for Americans overseas.

In 1990, Mr. DeSombre received a B.A. in Quantitative Economics and an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University, where he was a Phi Beta Kappa scholar.  He graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude in 1995 and received the Reginald F. Lewis Prize in International Business Law. Mr. DeSombre is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and speaks some Korean and Japanese.

@MichaelDeSombre’s Twitter profile says “Republicans Overseas, Worldwide President.”
Big Law Business reported in August 2019 that “DeSombre, in his ethics agreement filed as part of the confirmation process, said he would resign from his posts in Republican organizations as well as his chairmanship of Save the Children Hong Kong Ltd., if he is confirmed.”
Related posts:

SFRC Clears Sullivan For Moscow, Other Ambassador Nominations, Foreign Service Lists

Travel With the Pompeos: Bangkok, Thailand; Sydney, Australia; and Pohnpei, the Federated States of Micronesia

 

From July 30-August 6, Secretary Pompeo and his wife, Susan traveled to Bangkok, Thailand; Sydney, Australia; and Pohnpei, the Federated States of Micronesia “to deepen our long-standing alliances and vibrant bilateral relations with these countries, and reaffirm our commitment to ASEAN, which is central to our vision for the Indo-Pacific region” according to state.gov. Enjoy some pics from the trip!

#

Foreign Service Posts Around the World Look Back at 2017, Send New Year Wishes For 2018

Posted: 12:27 pm PT

 

View this post on Instagram

As 2017 draws to a close, Ambassador Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir and the entire team at the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur want to thank our Malaysian friends and partners for a wonderful year. We’re looking forward to continuing our work together in 2018 and beyond. 2017年落幕之时,雷荷花大使及美国大使馆团队衷心感谢所有大马朋友及伙伴在这一年所给予的支持。期盼在2018年及将来继续与你们携手合作。 Tahun 2017 akan melaburkan tirainya. Duta Besar Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir dan seluruh pasukan di Kedutaan A.S. di Kuala Lumpur ingin mengucapkan terima kasih kepada rakan dan rakan kongsi Malaysia kami untuk tahun yang hebat ini. Kami tidak sabar untuk meneruskan kerja bersama pada 2018 dan seterusnya.

A post shared by U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur (@usembassykl) on

#

Around the Foreign Service: Santa in a Tuk Tuk, Singing Marines, a Jingle Truck, and More (Photos)

Posted: 2:35 am ET
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

US Embassy Bangkok, Thailand

US Embassy Nairobi, Kenya

US Embassy Port Au Prince, Haiti

US Embassy Manila, Philippines

USCG Frankfurt, Germany

USCG Karachi, Pakistan

US Embassy New Delhi, India

#

US Embassy Bangkok Celebrates Songkran Festival

Posted: 2:55 am ET
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

U.S. Embassy Bangkok put out a video of its Songkran festivities with Ambassador Glyn Davies asking a few American officers to sample some Thai “summer foods.”

 

#

Happy 2016! New Year Wishes Around the Foreign Service (Videos)

Posted: 7:08 pm EDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

U.S. Embassy Bangkok continues its creative streak. See post’s … it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s superm …. it’s a drone moment! With embassy staff and Ambassador Glyn Davies.

 

Here is U.S. Embassy Islamabad‘s happy 2016 video. These folks’ smiles are contagious, aren’t they? Naya Saal Mubarak!

 

Ambassador Joan Polaschik and her staff at U.S. Embassy Algiers say they look forward to the year ahead, and hope that it will be filled with peace, prosperity and more opportunities to strengthen the ties between the two countries.

 

Yeni yılınız kutlu olsun from U.S. Embassy Ankara with a message from Ambassador John Bass. The video has annotations added for viewers to learn more about embassy programs done in 2015.

 

U.S. Embassy The Hague with Ambassador Timothy Broas on the highlights from 2015. They said it was another great year for U.S. – Dutch cooperation and they look forward to what 2016 will bring.

 

U.S. Embassy San Jose with Ambassador with S. Fitzgerald Haney with a year in review in Costa Rica.

 

Happy New Year from the U.S. Embassy Paramaribo! This is Ambassador Nolan’s first time lighting a pagara. Enjoy!

 

#

 

US Embassy Thailand: Bangkok Police Launch Inquiry Into Ambassador Davies’ Speech. Huh?

Posted: 3:21 am EDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

On November 28, Ambassador Glyn T. Davies presented his credentials to the Crown Prince on Bangkok.

Previously, Ambassador Davies gave a talk at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand on Nov. 24. A few days later, Ambassador Davies got his first protest in Bangkok (see US Embassy Thailand: Ambassador Glyn Davies’ Talk Sparks Protest in Bangkok).

Apparently the Bangkok police department has now launched an inquiry into “whether a controversial speech by US ambassador Glyn T Davies condemning long prison sentences for lese majeste convictions violated Thailand’s royal defamation.”

 

 

In related news, the British Ambassador to Thailand Mark Kent, tweeted this:

According to Bangkok Post, the government has also “slammed the British ambassador’s comments “supporting law-breakers” and is considering whether to summon him for talks.” Tsk! Tsk!

#

 

US Embassy Thailand: Ambassador Glyn Davies’ Talk Sparks Protest in Bangkok

Posted: 1:22 am EDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

The US Ambassador to Thailand Glyn T. Davies was nominated by President Obama on April 14, 2015, confirmed by the Senate on August 5, and sworn in on September 14, 2015.  A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Ambassador Davies also served as the Permanent Representative of the United States to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Office in Vienna from June 2009 until November 2011.  He previously served as the Special Representative of the U.S. Secretary of State for North Korea Policy from January 2012 to November 2014.  Since his arrival in Thailand in September, he has traveled and acquainted himself with his host country.  Here’s Ambassador Davies during a local celebration:

Screen Shot

On November 23 Ambassador and Mrs. Davies celebrated their first Loy Krathong with Thai and American staff. The festival featured traditional Thai dances, Thai games, krathong making contests, in addition, to Ambassador and Mrs. Davies participating in a “ram wong” with other members of the Embassy community.

On Nov. 24, Ambassador Davies gave a talk at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club ofThailand. As of this writing, we have been unable to locate the transcript of Ambassador Davies’ talk at the FCCT.

#

Ambassador Davies quickly became a target of a protest for his recent comments on the lese majeste law:

The BBC News explained Thailand’s lese majeste laws here. Al Jazeera notes that since taking power in May 2014, Thailand’s military government has come under scrutiny for their heavy-handed application of a decades-old law written to protect the Thai royal family.

The Asian Observer has posted a lengthy list of the lese majeste charges filed since 2007.  An Asia One report  in late 2014 says that the Thai Police have dealt with more than 10,000 cases of lese majeste in recent years.

#

PSA: No More Extra U.S. Passport Pages After Dec 31, 2015

Posted: 12:31 am EDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

We’ve previously blogged about this back in April (see Next Generation U.S. Passport To Roll Out in 2016, No More Additional Page Insert Starting Jan 1, 2016).  The US Embassy Bangkok below has a reminder, that extra pages will no longer be available after December 31, 2015. Check your nearest embassy or consulate if you need additional pages before then.

#

D/Secretary Blinken Swears-in Glyn Davies as U.S. Ambassador to Thailand

Posted: 2:02 am EDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

.

Certificate of Competency via State/HR – Davies, Glyn T. – Kingdon of Thailand – April 2015

The White House released the following bio when it announced the nomination on April 13, 2015:

Glyn Townsend Davies, a career member of the Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is currently a Senior Advisor in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State, a position he has held since 2014.  Prior to that, he was Special Representative for North Korea Policy from 2012 to 2014.  From 2009 to 2012, he served as the United States Representative to the Vienna Office of the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency.  Mr. Davies served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2006 to 2009.  Mr. Davies was a Senior Advisor at the Foreign Service Institute’s Leadership and Management School from 2005 to 2006, Acting Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in 2005, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs from 2004 to 2005, and Political Director for the U.S. Presidency of the G-8 from 2003 to 2004.  From 1999 to 2003, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in London, United Kingdom.  Mr. Davies was Executive Secretary of the National Security Council staff from 1997 to 1999, State Department Deputy Spokesman and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs from 1995 to 1997, and Director of the State Department Operations Center from 1992 to 1994.  His earlier assignments include posts in Australia, France, and Zaire.

Mr. Davies received a B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University and an M.S. from the National Defense University.

#