Richard Armitage was the 13th United States Deputy Secretary of State, serving from 2001 to 2005. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and then after the fall of Saigon moved to Washington D.C. to work as a consultant for the United States Department of Defense, which sent him to Tehran and Bangkok.
Throughout the late 70s and early 80s, Armitage worked as an aide and foreign policy advisor to politicians including Senator Bob Dole and President-elect Ronald Reagan. When Reagan was elected, Armitage was appointed to the Department of Defense. In the 1990s, Armitage worked in the private sector before being confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State with the election of George W. Bush in 2001. He left the post in 2005.
Armitage was educated at the United States Naval Academy. He is an avid bodybuilder, and speaks many languages, including Vietnamese.
Question: What impact does your work have on the world?
Armitage: Well it depends. One part of my life, I had a direct impact. I led 29,000 Vietnamese the day of the fall of Saigon out of Vietnam. And they are, I think by and large, very productive members of our own society. Witness the valedictorian and salutatorian of any high school, college graduating class, you’ll probably see an Asian name, and probably a Vietnamese-Asian name. So I . . . I’m quite proud of that. I think beyond that we go to work each day, and as a public servant you put on your helmet, you button up your chin strap, and you go and try to resolve problems. In the day-to-day work of governance, it’s very hard to have the big idea, and the grand scheme, and the grand program. Most of all you’re trying to avoid problems; trying to mediate and mitigate problems.