The ICAS Lectures


Remarks At John Hamre Liberty Award Dinner

Sue Mi Terry

ICAS Annual Liberty Award Dinner

December 14, 2017, 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Capitol Hill Club
Washington, DC

Institute for Corean-American Studies, Inc.

Biographic sketch & Links: Sue Mi Terry

Remarks At John Hamre Liberty Award Dinner

Sue Mi Terry

Senior Fellow for the Korea Chair

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

I am one of the newest members of the CSIS family so I haven’t known Dr Hamre for a long time. But even before arriving at CSIS, I was familiar with his stellar reputation as one of the smartest and most respected foreign policy hands in Washington. He is someone who is very much in the tradition of the Wise Men--Dean Acheson, Chip Bohlen, Averill Harriman, George Kennan, Robert Lovett, John J. McCloy, George Marshall and the other giants who created America’s internationalist foreign policy in the post-1945 era. Like them, Dr Hamre is not a partisan or a purveyor of sound bites; he is as nonpartisan as they come, having worked for presidents and lawmakers of both parties, and he is a font of deep insights about the world and America’s position in it.

What I have discovered in working at CSIS is that Dr Hamre is not just revered outside of CSIS—he is revered by those who work for him, which is no mean feat. On the first day I came in and met with the Korea team at CSIS, one of the first things that I heard was praise of Dr. Hamre by the staff. He wasn’t in the room while they were talking; and they were not doing so to curry favor with the boss; they were saying what they knew to be true. I heard that he sets the tone at CSIS with a"strong moral compass” and "strong positive attitude," and that he is down to earth and engaging. That he makes an effort to get to know everyone and makes everyone believe that he or she is an integral part of the CSIS family.

Since starting work at CSIS, I have learned for myself the truth of these encomia. I cannot imagine a more inspiring or nurturing boss than Dr. Hamre. Or one who cares more deeply about his work and the people who work for him. Over the past 17 plus years he has made CSIS into a world leader in security studies, and he has put a particular emphasis on Korea, a country that is close to his heart.

Just a few days ago I heard Dr Hamre talking about how much Korea means to him, how often he has visited the country over the years, and how he has seen it blossom from postwar devastation to the economic and democratic powerhouse that it is today. His connection is not just on policy, it’s personal, because he has a Korean godson.

At the end of his remarks, and I hope I am not speaking out of school here, Dr Hamre became so emotional that he teared up in talking about Korea. This is a man who is not afraid to express his emotions—and that is a source of strength for him. It is also something I can identify with. As you may know Koreans are emotional people—we don’t hide our feelings. And I cannot today hide the awe and affection in which I hold Dr Hamre. He is, as far as I am concerned, an honorary Korean.

It is the proudest moment of my professional life to join CSIS and to work on carrying forward the proud legacy of Korea studies that Dr Hamre has built with close collaborators such as Mike Green and Victor Cha.

I want to close with a quotation from another member of the Greatest Generation whose work of American global leadership Dr Hamre is carrying forward in these trying times. “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity,” Dwight D Eisenhower said. “Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” If there is one quality that Dr Hamre exhibits it is integrity—that is what has made him so successful and has enabled CSIS to flourish under his leadership.

This page last updated December 31, 2017 jdb