“Ultimately when you are overseas you are dealing with people, and you’re trying to figure out what is it that lets them become human to you and what is it about you that allows you to become human to them.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter sits down with Zach and Shiv to discuss track-two diplomacy, cultural immersion, and his thoughts on success.
Cameron Munter is President and CEO of the EastWest Institute (EWI) in New York. Ambassador Munter served as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer for nearly three decades in some of the most conflict-ridden areas of the globe. He was Ambassador to Pakistan (2010-2012) guiding U.S.-Pakistani relations through a period of crisis, including the operation against Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad. He was Ambassador to Serbia (2007-2009), where he negotiated Serbia domestic consensus for European integration while managing the Kosovo independence crisis. He served twice in Iraq, leading the first Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mosul in 2006 and then handling political-military affairs in Baghdad in 2009-2010. Munter graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University in 1976 and earned a doctoral degree in modern European history from the Johns Hopkins University in 1983. He was a Rusk Fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy in 1991. He also taught at Pomona College from 2013-2015.
“Inflection points are not always sharp breaks that you recognize. There’s a trend you realize I’ve done something well enough for long enough and yet if I’m going to do the next step of what I’ve got to do I have got to realize that’s not enough.” (3:23)
“What can i do to where I can continue to learn and to adjust and to find different ways of thinking? And I was drawn towards diplomacy. Instead of being a break from academia, it was for me the only way I could continue to be intellectually curious in the way that I had been before.” (5:24)
“People in Europe, who I knew, who were cultural snobs, will say: “McDonalds, you get the same thing every time. How gross.” Poorer people in Europe, especially minorities in Europe, have always told me “What I love about McDonalds is that it’s not snobby. They treat me as Nigerian the same way they treat you as American. And that’s what I love about America. OK, now you see this, you see how food plays this incredible role in understanding people's sense of self-worth or humiliation or motivation in politics. And I’m using food or drink as an example, but there’s any number of things you can look at.” (9:44)
“There’s a new style with Trump, but I think the changes in diplomacy are much bigger than just the changes in administration.” (12:54)
“People become very enamored with the idea of getting to a certain place at a certain time--promotions in a military sense, moving ahead. And yet, I know this sounds very Californian, but I’m allowed as a native Claremont-er, I’m allowed to say you have to make that decision yourself what you want success to be. Look hard inside yourself. What do you like to do? What are you good at? What makes you happy? When you do that, you are much more likely to be successful.” (23:22)