Today Vietnam is one of America’s strongest international partners, with a thriving economy and a population that welcomes American visitors. How that relationship was formed is a 20-year story of daring diplomacy and a careful thawing of tensions between the two countries after a lengthy war that cost nearly 60,000 American and more than three million Vietnamese lives.
Ted Osius, former ambassador during the Obama Administration, offers a vivid account, starting in the 1990s, of the various forms of diplomacy that made this reconciliation possible. He considers the leaders who put aside past traumas to work on creating a brighter future, including senators John McCain and John Kerry, two Vietnam veterans and ideological opponents who set aside their differences for a greater cause, and Pete Peterson—the former POW who became the first U.S. ambassador to a new Vietnam. Osius also draws upon his own experiences working first-hand with various Vietnamese leaders and traveling the country on bicycle to spotlight the ordinary Vietnamese people who have helped bring about their nation’s extraordinary renaissance.
Nothing is Impossible – with a foreword by former Secretary of State John Kerry -- tells an inspiring story of how international diplomacy can create a better world.
The book is introduced in the "In Their Own Write" section of the Foreign Service Journal's 20th annual Foreign Service authors roundup. Read the full article here.
While in Vietnam for his first tour as a political officer (1996-1998), Ted Osius encountered a local proverb that stuck with him long afterward: “When you go on a journey, you come back with wisdom.” This memoir confirms that throughout his Foreign Service career, Osius traveled both widely and wisely.
Just 16 years later, he returned to Vietnam as U.S. ambassador in 2014. Had he merely recounted his eventful three-year tenure in this book, it would be well worth reading. But as the foreword by former Secretary of State John Kerry declares, Nothing Is Impossible has a broader message; it tells an inspiring story of how international diplomacy can create a better world.
Osius concludes his memoir by observing: “My time in Vietnam had come full circle. Together with my colleagues in Hanoi, we had shown respect for Vietnam’s history, language and mythology. We had pushed to the limit the possibilities for chronicling the truths of the ‘American War.’ Together with my embassy team and the people and leaders of Vietnam, we had progressed further down the road toward reconciliation.”
Ted Osius, a Foreign Service officer for 30 years, served from 2014 to 2017 as U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, among many other assignments. Only the second openly gay career diplomat in U.S. history to achieve the rank of ambassador, Osius is a founding member of glifaa and went to Vietnam with his husband (former FSO Clayton Bond) and children. Currently he is the president and CEO of the U.S. - ASEAN Business Council.