Ambassador Huntsman, aka Governor,
The first president to hire you, Ronald Reagan had a saying – Stay the course!
I mention this because I must respectfully disagree with my friend Robert Gerhke in his recent column urging you to come home. From your experience of being a busboy at the Mikado Restaurant to being governor of the state of Utah and the American Ambassador to China, you understand the complex world of international politics/diplomacy. Given the perilous state we face at so many points in the globe today your intellect, personal skills and integrity are much needed.
Our world is emerging from a bipolar, “us against them” world of the Cold War, to a more nuanced, calculus-like set of international and national relationships. For instance, Russia is experiencing great unpublicized tensions in its eastern areas of Siberia where their natural resource rich assets are being envied by the expanding, relatively resource poor, Chinese economy. To the south, China is in the process completing a road from Beijing to Karachi to establish a significant international port on the Indian Ocean. This line of commerce could easily increase the tensions between India and Pakistan, both nuclear powers. You are one of the few public international figures who understands the varying dangerous military, economic and political tensions these geographic areas represent to global stability.
As counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (1979-80) I had to deal with the KGB, Mossad (Israeli intelligence) and MSS (Chinese intelligence) to name a few. In their world, unlike the world of television drama and game shows, everything is gray. Their quest, and the quest of our CIA, is to provide actionable intelligence to preserve security and, in an unusual way, peace. I found, as I believe you have, the intelligence services do provide significant and important information. In the past, and unfortunately in the present, they all too often exceed their authority by not just providing information but also action plans they implement. The latter is something our own intelligence community has done as frequently as any of their foreign counterparts. It is for this precise reason your presence in your position as ambassador is essential. You know how to act, and of equal importance, not to act.
Let me give you another personal illustration. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee is divided along partisan lines. As counsel, and with Chairman Frank Church’s approval, I regularly met privately with Sen. Jesse Helms, Church’s polar opposite. Our meetings were cordial, with the purpose to exchange information that would facilitate the committee’s work. I suspect, but don’t know, given your skill set and integrity, you are providing important private exchanges between significant global leaders.
When you were governor of Utah one of your hallmarks was your ability to bring all factions together. Your keen intellect, yet affable personality, allowed people to trust your judgments and leadership. You were not averse to making decisions which had some political risk but more frequently than not resulted in positive sustainable outcomes. Even though you rode a motorcycle, the people of Utah and Intermountain West knew that you were looking out for our best interest. It is no different than 2018.
Finally, Mr. Gehrke mentions your two sons, Will and Jon, being in the military service. Not mentioned are your two still-young daughters, one Chinese and the other Indian, but all four Huntsmans. Given your and Mary Kay’s continuing commitment to family values, your diplomatic mission has very deep roots in seeking sustainable peace. Yours is not a personal agenda but instead a global work effort to make the world a better place. Utah, the United States, Russia, China, India and Pakistan to mention just a few, need your skill set.
It is because of the exchanges you facilitate and your ability to rise above the various political/diplomatic frays occurring almost on an hourly basis that you must remain in Moscow as our United States ambassador. As President Reagan would say – Stay the course!
Pat Shea was counsel to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, assistant to the director of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee and Director of the Bureau of Land Management.