Alexander Russell "Sandy" Vershbow (born July 3, 1952) is an American diplomat and former Deputy Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Sandy Vershbow
Vershbow in 2006
Deputy Secretary General of NATO
In office
February 2012 – October 17, 2016
Preceded byClaudio Bisogniero
Succeeded byRose Gottemoeller
Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
In office
April 3, 2009 – February 2012
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byMary Beth Long
Succeeded byDerek Chollet
United States Ambassador to South Korea
In office
October 17, 2005 – September 18, 2008
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byChristopher R. Hill
Succeeded byKathleen Stephens
United States Ambassador to Russia
In office
October 17, 2001 – July 22, 2005
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byJames Franklin Collins
Succeeded byWilliam J. Burns
United States Ambassador to NATO
In office
November 10, 1997 – July 9, 2001
PresidentBill Clinton
George W. Bush
Preceded byRobert E. Hunter
Succeeded byR. Nicholas Burns
Personal details
Born
Alexander Russell Vershbow

(1952-07-03) July 3, 1952 (age 71)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
EducationYale University (BA)
Columbia University (MA)
AwardsOrder of Merit of the Republic of Poland

From October 2005 to October 2008, he was the United States Ambassador to South Korea. Before that post he had been the ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2001 to 2005 and the ambassador to NATO from 1997 to 2001.[1] For his work with NATO he was awarded the State Department's Distinguished Service Award.

In March 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Vershbow as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, a position that holds responsibility for U.S. policy toward NATO, coordination of U.S. security and defense policies relating to the nations and international organizations of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.[2] He was confirmed in April 2009.[3]

After almost three years with the U.S. Department of Defense, in February 2012, Vershbow moved back to Brussels where he took the position of Deputy Secretary General of NATO, becoming the first American to hold the position.[4]

Early life and education

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Vershbow was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Arthur Vershbow and Charlotte Vershbow (née Zimmerman), both of German descent.[5]

Vershbow attended the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School before moving on to Yale College, from which he graduated in 1974 in Russian and East European Studies. He earned an MA at Columbia University in 1976 in International Relations and Certificate of the Russian Institute.[6] He learned to play the drums at a young age and kept up his passion abroad including occasionally playing in bands with other Ambassadors while on foreign assignments.[7]

Career

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Then-Ambassador Vershbow with Russian President Vladimir Putin in October 2001

National Security Council

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Vershbow was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council (1994–97). He was the first recipient of the Department of Defense's Joseph J. Kruzel Award for his contributions to peace in the former Yugoslavia (1997).

Ambassador to Russia

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Vershbow was US ambassador to Russia from 2001 to 2005. He is famous for ignoring the official ceremony of giving his letter of credence to Russian President Vladimir Putin, for which the reason of "a planned vacation" was given.[8] During his tenure the Embassy publicly supported the candidacy of Elena Mizulina whose political party advocated for the legalization of prostitution. The US Office of Trafficking in Persons and American NGO MiraMed Institute, which was the first nonprofit to work against trafficking of women and girls from Russia, brought pressure to have Ambassador Vershbow to withdraw his support since it was contrary to U.S. policy. In response, he requested an OIG investigation into the finances of MiraMed Institute which found no serious irregularities.

Ambassador to South Korea

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Early in his tenure as ambassador to South Korea he generated controversy by continuing the hard line on North Korea begun by his predecessor Christopher R. Hill. He pressed North Korea on the issues of human rights and superdollars, calling the government a "criminal regime",[9][10] and called on them to return to the Six-Party Talks.[10][11] One South Korean lawmaker even tried to have him expelled from the country.[12] In January 2006 his attempt to meet with the Korea Internet Journalists' Association, which describes itself as 'progressive', was blocked by protestors from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.[13][14]

Together with Hill, who was the Assistant Secretary of State, Vershbow also pioneered a strategy of speaking directly to the Korean people through the internet and by actually appearing and speaking at street rallies.[15][16]

Vershbow spoke out in favor of the expansion of the U.S. base at Pyeongtaek. Some local residents demonstrated against the expansion; Vershbow asserted that they were "out of step" with the sentiments of most residents of the area.[citation needed]

Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs

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Vershbow was Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (ISA).[17] In a July 2010 organization chart he was shown as five ASD's serving under Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy, with the other four being Wallace Gregson, Paul Stockton, Michael Nacht, and Michael G. Vickers.[18]

Vershbow was leading sessions for the chief of staff of Egypt's armed forces, Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Enan, and a delegation in Washington in January 2011, when the visit was truncated due to concurrent Egyptian protests.[19]

NATO Deputy Secretary General

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Vershbow was the Deputy Secretary General of NATO from February 2012 to October 2016 after serving for three years in the Pentagon as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. While in Brussels, Vershbow argued that partnerships are "a necessity, not a luxury" stressing that NATO's partnerships have helped to consolidate peace and stability in Europe, and to extend stability beyond the Alliance's borders.[20] In remarks to a small groups of reporters on May 2, 2014, reported by AP, Vershbow said that after two decades of trying to build a partnership with Russia, NATO now feels compelled to start treating Moscow as an adversary. "Clearly the Russians have declared NATO as an adversary, so we have to begin to view Russia no longer as a partner but as more of an adversary than a partner," he said, adding that Russia's annexation of Crimea and its apparent manipulation of unrest in eastern Ukraine have fundamentally changed the NATO-Russia relationship.[21] Near the end of his tenure Vershbow was awarded the 'Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown' in recognition of his years of distinguished service for the Alliance.[22]

Atlantic Council

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Following his career in public service, Vershbow joined the Atlantic Council as Distinguished Fellow, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. He has become a frequent media commentator on national security affairs and predicted the Russian government would not respond militarily to the Trump administration's bombing of Syria in response to the Asad regime's use of chemical weapons in 2017.[23]

Rasmussen Global

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Vershbow also acts as a senior advisor to Anders Fogh Rasmussen's political consultancy firm Rasmussen Global[24] where he offers advice on transatlantic relations and foreign policy.

Personal life

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Vershbow's wife, Lisa Vershbow, is a designer of contemporary jewelry.[6] They have two sons together.[25]

Honours

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References

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  1. ^ "U.S. Ambassadors to Russia: Alexander R. Vershbow (2001-2005)". Embassy of the United States, Moscow. U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on April 22, 2014.
  2. ^ Sweet, Lynn (March 11, 2009). "Obama taps new ambassadors for Iraq, Afghanistan". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original (Press release) on March 13, 2009.
  3. ^ "Head Count: Tracking Obama's Appointments: Alexander Vershbow". The Washington Post. 2012. Archived from the original on October 3, 2012.
  4. ^ "NATO Deputy Secretary General (2012-2016) Ambassador Alexander Vershbow". NATO. October 17, 2016.
  5. ^ Stickgold, Emma (May 18, 2012). "Arthur Vershbow, collector of rare books, donated works to MFA - The Boston Globe". The Boston Globe.
  6. ^ a b "Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs – Leadership: Alexander Vershbow". Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, U.S. Department of Defense. Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2011.
  7. ^ "How rock 'n' roll freed the world" http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2003-11-06-rockroll-usat_x.htm
  8. ^ "Посол США отказался выпить с Путиным" [U.S. Ambassador refused to drink with Putin]. The Russian Gazette. August 27, 2001.
  9. ^ "Unknown". The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition) – Daily News from Korea. Archived from the original on May 3, 2008.
  10. ^ a b "US says N Korea 'criminal regime'". BBC News. December 7, 2005.
  11. ^ "Unknown". The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition) – Daily News from Korea. Archived from the original on June 18, 2006.
  12. ^ "Unknown". The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition) – Daily News from Korea. Archived from the original on June 18, 2006.
  13. ^ "Unknown". The Korea Herald. January 13, 2006. Archived from the original on May 3, 2008.
  14. ^ Koehler, Robert (January 13, 2006). "Protestors stop Vershbow from attending meeting". The Marmot's Hole: Korea... in Blog Format. Archived from the original on July 4, 2008. U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow was stopped by KCTU protestors from attending a meeting with the Korean Internet Journalists' Association, reports the Korea Herald: 'The U.S. envoy to Korea was to meet with members of the Korea Internet Journalists' Association at the office of progressive radio channel, Voice of the People in Yeongdeungpo, western Seoul. But members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions who share an office in the same building barricaded the entrance and held out placards saying "U.S. obstructs reunification."'
  15. ^ "Unknown". The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition) – Daily News from Korea. Archived from the original on October 18, 2006.
  16. ^ "New U.S. Envoy to Woo Young Koreans". The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition) – Daily News from Korea. September 23, 2005.
  17. ^ "Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs". Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved October 19, 2012. Alexander Vershbow is currently the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (ISA). In this capacity, Ambassador Vershbow was responsible for coordinating U.S. security and defense policies relating to the nations and international organizations of Europe (including NATO), the Middle East and Africa.
  18. ^ Policy Leadership Slate (PDF), United States Department of Defense, archived from the original (PDF) on July 21, 2011, retrieved January 28, 2011
  19. ^ Bumiller, Elizabeth (January 28, 2011). "Egyptian Military Chiefs Cut Pentagon Visit Short". The New York Times. Retrieved January 28, 2011.
  20. ^ "NATO Deputy Secretary General: Partnerships are a necessity, not a luxury"
  21. ^ Robert Burns, "NATO official: Russia now an adversary," May 2, 2014
  22. ^ "NATO Deputy Secretary General Receives Prestigious Order of the Crown"
  23. ^ US Strike in Syria Unlikely to Provoke Russian Response April 10 2017
  24. ^ "The firm - Rasmussen Global Consultancy".
  25. ^ Morel, Linda (March 27, 2005). "U.S.'s Moscow ambassador hosts seder". Jewish Telegraph Agency.
  26. ^ "Deputy NATO chief awarded Poland's top diplomatic decoration". Radio Poland. July 8, 2016. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  27. ^ "Stoltenberg tells President Margvelashvili: "Bonds between NATO and Georgia are stronger than ever"". agenda.ge. September 8, 2016. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  28. ^ didier reynders [@dreynders] (September 28, 2016). "J'ai remis la décoration de Grand Croix de l'Ordre de la Couronne à l'Ambassadeur Vershbow #OTAN @BelgiumMFA #begov" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  29. ^ "J'ai remis la décoration de Grand Croix de l'Ordre de la Couronne à l'Ambassadeur Vershbow « Didier Reynders". Archived from the original on December 1, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
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Diplomatic posts
Preceded by United States Ambassador to NATO
1997–2001
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Ambassador to Russia
2001–2005
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Ambassador to South Korea
2005–2008
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
2009–2012
Succeeded by