f_0016386_14184 - Setting the Stage for the Next 175 Years:...

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Spring 2009 The Ambassadors REVIEW 31 Setting the Stage for the Next 175 Years: United States and Thai Relations Renewed Eric G. John United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand The Obamark Connection hile everyone in the world now knows the name Obama, perhaps only about 65 million people are familiar with “Obamark.” Like many Thais, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has a nickname, Mark, given to him by his parents. After Barack Obama won the democratic nomination, Abhisit’s supporters in Thailand began calling their man Obamark to draw attention to the perceived similarities between the two men: both are young, highly educated, well-spoken politicians who each promised their countries change. And as fate would have it, both men have assumed the mantle of leadership at the same time: Abhisit was endorsed by the King of Thailand and became Prime Minister on December 17, 2008, only a few weeks after Barack Obama won the election to become President of the United States. President Obama’s election victory was enthusiastically received by the Thais. Like many embassies around the world, we held an election watch party to follow the polling results live as they came in from the other side of the world. Nearly 2,000 attendees—including 1,100 students—attended what became a loud, boisterous and festive event. Both the Governor of Bangkok and then Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat hand- delivered their congratulations after the final results were announced. Before the inaugura- tion, the Embassy initially distributed 3,000 copies of a Thai language booklet on the President-Elect that was originally published in English by the State Department. But demand was so high for this booklet that we had to print another 5,000 copies to send to our contacts in government, industry, universities, libraries and media. I don’t know if Prime Minister Abhisit is bothered by the comparison or by his new nickname; I suspect that he probably feels flattered. But one thing I am sure of is that the convergence of these events has brought a sense of renewed energy to our bilateral relationship. The Thai enthusiasm for our new president, coupled with the similar dynamism and youthful vigor found in their Prime Minister, has set the stage for a re- invigorated relationship just as the two countries celebrate 176 years of partnership. History of US-Thai Relations The vast geographical distance between our two countries belies a deep and enduring partnership in countless spheres. Last year marked the 175 th anniversary of formal relations between the United States and Thailand born from the Treaty of Amity and Commerce that was signed on March 20, 1833. The Treaty of 1833 was America’s first treaty with any Asian country, making Thailand America’s oldest diplomatic and trading partner in the region.
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This note was uploaded on 01/25/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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f_0016386_14184 - Setting the Stage for the Next 175 Years:...

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