Glyn Davies: US ambassador to Thailand nominee (editorial)

Glyn Davies: US ambassador to Thailand nominee (editorial)

All eyes are on how the new envoy will maintain the balance between his role as the guardian of Western-style democracy and friendship with its long-time Southeast Asian ally.

President Barack Obama's choice for the new ambassador to Thailand is Glyn Davies, a seasoned diplomat. He is awaiting the US Senate's nod for his Bangkok posting, which was vacated by high-profile diplomat Kristie Kenney in November last year. (Photo: AFP)

EDITORIAL (April 16, 2015)

No quick fix to US relations


After six months of diplomatic hiatus, the US government has finally nominated a new ambassador to Thailand.

President Barack Obama's choice for the position is Glyn Davies, a seasoned diplomat. He is awaiting the US Senate's nod for his Bangkok posting, which was vacated by high-profile diplomat Kristie Kenney in November last year.

His nomination, which was made on Feb 20, won endorsement from Bangkok late last month.

If anything, the nomination of Mr Davies should help end anxious speculation here that Washington is punishing the junta-led administration for the May 22 coup that deposed the democratically-elected government under the Pheu Thai Party.

Many interpreted the delayed appointment as Washington's failure to prove that it is a real friend to Thailand, without realising the delay stemmed largely from internal politics in the US.

Such bitter speculation has been fuelled further by the downgrading of Thailand on the US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report to Tier 3 last year. Many wrongly believe this is a political decision. While Thailand is struggling to reclaim its Tier 2 position, the TIP downgrade was followed by the suspension of military assistance to the Thai army, as well as the downsizing of the joint Cobra Gold military exercise. All this has forced Thailand to seek a closer alliance with US rivals, namely China and Russia. China, in particular, looks forward to a joint military drill with Thailand.

With his solid profile, Mr Davies, who is now a senior adviser in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the US Department of State, seems to be the right choice by the US president, the type of envoy that Mr Obama can trust to carry out his "pivot to Asia" policy. He was former US special representative for North Korea policy from 2012-2014. 

There are challenges that Mr Davies will face when he assumes his post — the same challenges faced by his predecessor Kenny, before she wrapped up her diplomatic assignment in Thailand.  All eyes are on how the new envoy will maintain the balance between his role as the guardian of Western-style democracy and friendship with its long-time Southeast Asian ally. Or how he will demonstrate understanding of the special situation in junta-led Thailand without compromising democratic principles.

It remains to be seen how he will avoid the accusations experienced by his predecessor, who was criticised for not maintaining neutrality in a polarised host country.

It is unrealistic to expect the appointment of the new ambassador to improve strained Thai-US relations overnight. After all, Thailand has other thorny issues to work on. These include Section 112, which goes against the key democratic principles of freedom of speech, Section 44 and ongoing military campaigns against political dissent and those viewed by the junta as national security threats

All these issues have tainted Thailand's image and human rights record in the eyes of the international community

The Prayut Chan-o-cha administration certainly needs all kinds of support and understanding from its friends, the US included, to ensure it can push the country forward on its political roadmap and restore democracy.

The nomination of Mr Davies is just the beginning for both sides to restore mutual trust and friendship. But we should remember that the US will never fully restore relations as long as Thailand is under military rule.

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  • accusation: a statement that someone has done something wrong or illegal even though this has not been proved - ข้อกล่าวหา
  • adj (noun): connected with soldiers or the armed forces - ในทางทหาร,เกี่ยวกับทหาร
  • administration: government - รัฐบาล
  • adviser (noun): a person who gives advice, especially somebody who knows a lot about a particular subject - ที่ปรึกษา
  • affairs: political, social, and economic events that are happening now - กรณียกิจ, กิจธุระ, การเมือง
  • alliance: a group of people, organisations, or countries who have united to work together to achieve something - สหพันธ์
  • ally: a person who helps and supports somebody who is in a difficult situation, especially a politician - คนหรือประเทศที่อยู่ในกลุ่มเดียวกัน, พันธมิตร
  • ambassador: a senior official who lives in a foreign country and represents his or her own country there - ทูต
  • ambassador: a senior official who lives in a foreign country and represents his or her own country there - เอกอัครราชทูต
  • anxious: worried because you think something bad might happen - ที่วิตกกังวล, ที่ร้อนใจ
  • appointment: when someone is officially chosen for a job - การแต่งตั้ง
  • as long as (conj): will happen or be true if conditions are met - ตราบเท่าที่, จนกว่า
  • assignment: a task or piece of work that somebody is given to do, usually as part of their job or studies - งานที่ได้รับมอบหมาย
  • assistance: help; aid - ความช่วยเหลือ
  • assume: to officially start a new job or position - รับหน้าที่
  • avoid: to stay away from a place; to try to prevent something from happening - หลีกเลี่ยง
  • awaiting: waiting for something to happen - ที่รอคอย
  • balance (noun): a stable condition/relationship between two (or more) sides - ความสมดุล, การทรงตัว
  • bitter (adj): involving very angry or unpleasant feelings - ความขมขื่น
  • bureau: a government organisation - สำนักงาน
  • campaign: a planned group of especially political, business or military activities which are intended to achieve a particular aim - การรณรงค์
  • carry out (verb): to do something, to finish and complete a task - ทำให้สมบูรณ์, ทำให้สำเร็จ
  • challenge: something that needs a lot of skill, energy, and determination to deal with or achieve - สิ่งที่ท้าทาย, การท้าทาย
  • community: the people living in one particular area - ชุมชน
  • compromise: to risk harming or losing something important; to reduce in quality, value, or degree; to weaken or lower - ยอมอ่อนข้อ
  • coup: the seizure of power in a country by a group of people, usually members of the armed forces - รัฐประหาร
  • criticise: to say that you disapprove of somebody/something; to say what you do not like or think is wrong about somebody/something - วิจารณ์, ติเตียน,จับผิด
  • decision (noun): a choice or judgement that you make after thinking and talking about what is the best thing to do - การตัดสินใจ
  • delay (noun): causing to happen at a later time; happening at a later time than expected - การเลื่อน, ช้ากว่าปกติ
  • delayed: happening at a later time than expected - เกิดขึ้นช้ากว่าปกติ
  • demonstrate (verb): to show something and explain how it works - สาธิต
  • deposed: forced from a position of power - ที่ถูกปลด ไล่ออกจากตำแหน่ง
  • diplomat: an official whose job is to represent their government in a foreign country - นักการทูต
  • diplomatic: relating to relations between countries - เกี่ยวกับการทูต
  • dissent: strong disagreement, especially with those in power - ขัดแย้ง
  • downgrade: to reduce someone or something to a lower rank or position - ลดความสำคัญ
  • downsizing: making something smaller -
  • drill: an activity which practises a particular skill and often involves repeating the same thing several times - การฝึกหัด
  • elect (v): - การเลือกตั้ง
  • endorsement: officially supporting and approving - ได้รับความเห็นชอบ
  • ensure: to make certain that something happens or is done - ให้การยืนยัน, รับรอง, ให้ความมั่นใจ
  • envoy: someone who is sent as a representative from one government or organization to another - ทูต
  • exercise: a set of activities for training or testing - การฝึกฝน
  • experience (verb): to have something happen to you or to live through some event - ประสบ
  • force (noun): making someone do something that they don't want to do - การบังคับ
  • former: of or in an earlier time; before the present time or in the past - อดีต, แต่ก่อน
  • freedom: being free to do what you want and go where you want - อิสรภาพ, เสรีภาพ
  • fuel: to cause something, usually bad, to happen; to increase something; to make something stronger - ก่อให้เกิด, ทำให้รุนแรงขึ้น
  • guardian: someone who protects something - ผู้คุ้มครอง, ผู้พิทักษ์, ผู้คุ้มกัน
  • hiatus (noun): a pause in activity when nothing happens - การหยุดชะงัก
  • high-profile: receiving a lot of attention from the public - ที่มีชื่อ ที่ได้รับความสนใจจากสาธารณชน
  • high-profile (adj): creating a lot of public attention - เป็นที่สนใจจากคนในสังคม
  • host: a country, city, group, person, etc. which provides the space and other things necessary for a special event - เจ้าภาพ
  • image: an opinion that people have about someone or something - ภาพลักษณ์
  • in particular: especially or particularly - โดยเฉพาะ, โดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่ง
  • internal: existing or happening within a country, not between different countries - ภายใน
  • international: connected with or involving two or more countries - นานาชาติ, สากล, ระหว่างประเทศ
  • interpreted: understood in a particular way — - ตีความ, แปลความหมาย
  • issue: a problem that needs to be considered - ประเด็น
  • issue: matter; a subject that people discuss or argue about - ประเด็น
  • joint: done together; belonging to or shared between two or more people - ที่ร่วมกัน, ความร่วมมือกัน
  • junta: a group of military officers that governs a country, usually without having been elected - รัฐบาลทหาร
  • key: most important - ที่สำคัญ
  • largely (adverb): mostly -
  • maintain (verb): to keep something at the same level or state and not change it -
  • mutual: felt or done in the same way by each of two or more people - ร่วมกัน
  • national: a citizen of a particular country - ประชาชน
  • neutrality: the state of not supporting either side in a competition, disagreement, war, etc. - ความเป็นกลาง
  • nod (noun): giving permission for something; agreeing to something - อนุญาต
  • nod: to move your head down and up once to say hello to somebody or to give them a sign to do something - พยักหน้ารับ
  • nominated: officially suggested for a job or position - แต่งตั้ง
  • nomination: an official suggestion that someone should get a job - การเสนอชื่อเข้ารับตำแหน่ง
  • ongoing: continuing - อย่างต่อเนื่อง
  • overnight: suddenly or quickly, e.g., in one night - ในเวลาอันสั้น, ข้ามคืน,อย่างรวดเร็ว
  • party: an organized group of people who have similar ideas about the way in which a country should be governed, and who work together to try to persuade people to vote for them in elections - พรรค การเมือง
  • pivot (verb): to turn or balance on a central point (= a pivot ); to make something do this - หมุนรอบเดือยหรือแกน, หมุนตัวรอบ
  • polarise: to separate or make people separate into two groups with completely opposite opinions - แบ่งเป็นฝ่าย
  • policy (noun): a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group - นโยบาย
  • position: a job - ตำแหน่ง
  • position (noun): the place where somebody/something is located - ตำแหน่ง, สถานที่
  • post: a job/position in a company or organisation - ตำแหน่งการงาน
  • predecessor: the person who had a job or official position before someone else - ผู้ที่ดำรงตำแหน่งก่อนหน้านี้
  • principle: a basic idea or rule that explains or controls how something happens or works - ทฤษฎี, ข้อปฏิบัติ, หลักปฏิบัติ
  • profile: the general impression that somebody/something gives to the public and the amount of attention they receive - ชื่อเสียง
  • prove: to use facts, evidence, etc. to show that something is true - พิสูจน์
  • punish: to make somebody suffer because they have broken the law or done something wrong - ทำโทษ
  • realise (verb): to know about - ตระหนัก  รู้
  • reclaim: to take back something that was yours - เรียกกลับคืน, เอากลับ
  • record: a written account of something that is kept so that it can be looked at and used in the future - บันทึก, รายงาน
  • relations: official dealings between countries - ความสัมพันธ์ระหว่างประเทศ
  • representative: someone who has been chosen or elected by a person or group to vote, give opinions, or make decisions for them - ผู้แทน
  • restore: to bring back to good condition - ฟื้นฟูสภาพ
  • rival: a person you are competing against or opposing - คู่แข่ง
  • roadmap (noun): plan -
  • role: the position or purpose that someone or something has in a situation, organisation, society or relationship - บทบาท
  • rule: control over the government of a country - การปกครอง
  • seasoned: having a lot of experience of a particular activity - มีประสบการณ์มาก
  • security: protection; safety from attack, harm, or damage - ความมั่นคง, ระบบรักษาความปลอดภั, ความปลอดภัย
  • Senate: one of the two groups of politicians who make laws in some countries, for example in the US, Australia, Canada and Thailand - วุฒิสภา
  • senior: with a high rank or position - อาวุโส
  • situation: all the circumstances and things that are happening at a particular time and in a particular place - สถานการณ์
  • solid: completely good, with no mistakes or bad parts - ซึ่งไว้ใจได้, มีเหตุผล
  • speculation: ideas or discussion about what might happen or has happened or why something has happened without having complete information - การคาดการณ์
  • stem from: to be caused by - เกิดจาก
  • strained: not relaxed or friendly - เครียด
  • struggle: a very difficult task that you can do only by making a great effort - ความพยายาม
  • support: to give help, encouragement or sympathy to somebody - สนับสนุน, เป็นกำลังใจ
  • suspension: stopping for a period of time - การยกเลิกชั่วคราว, การระงับชั่วคราว
  • tainted: spoiled by an unpleasant quality or feature - มัวหมอง มีมลทิน แปดเปื้อน
  • thorny: causing difficulty or disagreement - มีหนาม,ยุ่งยาก,มีอุปสรรคมาก,ลำบากมาก
  • threat: a danger - อันตราย
  • tiers: rows or layers of something, each at a different height -
  • trafficking: dealing in illegal goods, like drugs, weapons or in illegally moving humans or animals from one place to another - การค้าสิ่งที่ผิดกฎหมาย
  • trust: a feeling of confidence in someone that shows you believe they are honest, fair, and reliable - ความเชื่อใจ, ความไว้วางใจ
  • understanding (noun): sympathy; understand someone's difficult situation; when you see and understand the problem that a person i experiencing so you don't complain or help them; compassion, pity - ] ความเห็นใจ, ความสงสาร
  • unrealistic: based on hopes or wishes, and not on what is likely or possible - ดูไม่สมจริง, ไม่เป็นความจริง
  • vacate: to leave empty - ออกจาก, ออกไปจาก
  • Western: countries such as the US, Europe and Australia -
  • wrapped up: finished -
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