The ICAS Lectures


Remarks At Dennis Blair Liberty Award Dinner

Katy Oh

ICAS Annual Liberty Award Dinner

December 14, 2016, 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Cannon Caucus Room
United States Congress
Washington, DC

Institute for Corean-American Studies, Inc.

Biographic sketch & Links: Katy Oh

Dec 14, 2016 Blair award dinner speech

Katy Oh

My first encounter with Admiral Blair was on March 26, 2001. I was attending the annual Pacific Symposium as a panelist, and Admiral Blair was the breakfast speaker. Immediately I liked him. He was my kind of gentleman: slim, intelligent, serious, but with a dry sense of humor and sharp wit. I listened to his speech and shook hands with him, and that was first encounter.

I got to know him better when he came to the Institute for Defense Analyses, first as a senior fellow after he retired from the navy in 2002, and later as IDA's President. During his fellowship year, we occasionally shared lunches and discussed developments in the Asia-Pacific, our area of mutual interest. During his leadership years as IDA's President, he supported my study on North Korea and also brought an important task to analyze global terrorism. That task enabled IDA to become involved in South Asia terrorism studies with the creation of the Council for Asian Terrorism Research (CATR).

During his presidency, I gradually learned more about Admiral Blair. Indeed he is a man of high intelligence, clear thinking and sharp observation. These strengths are not uncommon among those who have risen to high levels of professional accomplishment, but Admiral Blair has other outstanding merits that are not so common.

The first merit is his ability to listen. It seems to me that Americans tend to have a national personality that is extroverted and aggressive. Many are eloquent, some are long-winded, but not so many are good listeners. Admiral Blair is a good listener. Good listening makes dialogue partner more engaging and more productive. He has strategic listening ability without making other people nervous. He is willing to learn from experts.

His second merit is his even demeanor regardless of his job. I discovered through my past three decades of dealing with the public policy community that there are two kinds of human beings. One kind becomes arrogant when getting a new title. Very hard to live with. The other kind is even tempered regardless of his job or status. Admiral Blair is the latter case, a fair man who treats his junior colleagues with the same manner, the same smile and the same attitude.

His third merit is a high level of tolerance for criticism and opposing views. If a person has rational foundation for the criticism or views, he is willing to accept them. This is indeed a very rare merit especially among men with such a distinguished career.

For me, he has been the same gentleman for the past 15 years of our relationship. And I like him a lot. And I am tremendously privileged and honored to offer my humble views on him tonight. I salute to him with genuine respect and affection!

This page last updated December 16, 2016 jdb