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Alexander Vershbow

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alexander Vershbow
Alexander Vershbow.JPG
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 Joseph 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 (1952-07-03) July 3, 1952 (age 68)
Boston, Massachusetts
Alma materYale College
Columbia University (MA)
Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland

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

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

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]


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

National Security Council

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

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]

Ambassador to South Korea

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 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] The South Korean government has asked him to tone down his rhetoric,[12] in accordance with their Sunshine Policy, and one lawmaker even tried to have him expelled from the country.[13][14] 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.[15][16]

Together with Christopher 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.[17][18]

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

Vershbow was Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (ISA).[19] 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.[20]

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.[21]

NATO Deputy Secretary General

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.[22] 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.[23]

Atlantic Council

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.[24]

Rasmussen Global

Vershbow also acts as a Senior Advisor to Anders Fogh Rasmussen's political consultancy firm Rasmussen Global [25] where he offers advice on transatlantic relations and foreign policy.

Personal life

Vershbow's wife, Lisa Vershbow, is a designer of contemporary jewelry.[6]



  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 22 April 2014.
  2. ^ Sweet, Lynn (11 March 2009). "Obama taps new ambassadors for Iraq, Afghanistan". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original (Press release) on 13 March 2009.
  3. ^ "Head Count: Tracking Obama's Appointments: Alexander Vershbow". The Washington Post. 2012. Archived from the original on 3 October 2012.
  4. ^ "NATO Deputy Secretary General (2012-2016) Ambassador Alexander Vershbow". NATO. 17 October 2016.
  5. ^ Stickgold, Emma (18 May 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 15 September 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  7. ^ "How rock 'n' roll freed the world"
  8. ^ "Посол США отказался выпить с Путиным" [U.S. Ambassador refused to drink with Putin]. The Russian Gazette. 27 August 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. 7 December 2005.
  11. ^ "Unknown". The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition) – Daily News from Korea. Archived from the original on June 18, 2006.
  12. ^ Goodenough, Patrick (7 July 2008). "US Envoy Calls North Korea 'Criminal Regime'". Cybercast News Service.
  13. ^ "Unknown". Cybercast News Service. Archived from the original on May 3, 2008.
  14. ^ "Unknown". The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition) – Daily News from Korea. Archived from the original on June 18, 2006.
  15. ^ "Unknown". The Korea Herald. 13 January 2006. Archived from the original on May 3, 2008.
  16. ^ Koehler, Robert (13 January 2006). "Protestors stop Vershbow from attending meeting". The Marmot's Hole: Korea... in Blog Format. Archived from the original on 4 July 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."'
  17. ^ "Unknown". The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition) – Daily News from Korea. Archived from the original on October 18, 2006.
  18. ^ "New U.S. Envoy to Woo Young Koreans". The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition) – Daily News from Korea. 23 September 2005.
  19. ^ "Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs". Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 19 October 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.
  20. ^ Policy Leadership Slate (PDF), United States Department of Defense, archived from the original (PDF) on July 21, 2011, retrieved 28 January 2011
  21. ^ Bumiller, Elizabeth (28 January 2011). "Egyptian Military Chiefs Cut Pentagon Visit Short". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  22. ^ "NATO Deputy Secretary General: Partnerships are a necessity, not a luxury"
  23. ^ "NATO Deputy Secretary General Receives Prestigious Order of the Crown"
  24. ^ US Strike in Syria Unlikely to Provoke Russian Response April 10 2017
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Deputy NATO chief awarded Poland's top diplomatic decoration". Radio Poland. 8 July 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  27. ^ "Stoltenberg tells President Margvelashvili:  "Bonds between NATO and Georgia are stronger than ever"". 8 September 2016. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  28. ^ didier reynders [@dreynders] (28 September 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. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-12-01. Retrieved 2016-11-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
James Franklin Collins
Ambassador of United States to Russia
Succeeded by
William Joseph Burns
Preceded by
Christopher R. Hill
Ambassador of United States to South Korea
Succeeded by
Kathleen Stephens
This page was last edited on 15 July 2020, at 22:05
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