The Foreign Service Journal, September 2021

48 SEPTEMBER 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Joseph E. Lake is a retired Foreign Service officer who was ambassador to Mongolia from 1990 to 1993. He later served as ambassador to Albania and deputy assistant Secretary for information management. Michael Allen Lake is a management consultant based in Washington, D.C. He has supported projects with nine different government agencies including the State Department and the Department of Defense. From 1991 to 1992, he worked at Embassy Ulaanbaatar. This article is based on an essay by the authors published in Socialist and Post-Socialist Mongolia: Nation, Identity, and Culture (Routledge, 2021). T his is the story of how the United States—with no significant political or strategic interest in Mongolia, but with the strong personal support of Secretary of State James Baker and commit- ment by American diplomats— was able to build the foundation for a relationship that helped support Mongolia’s transition from the world’s second-oldest communist country and first Soviet satellite to an enduring democratic society and free market economy. In September 1984 Donald C. Johnson, a political officer in U.S. Embassy Beijing, was received officially by the Mongolian Foreign Ministry, the first U.S. official since Vice President Henry A. Wallace in 1944 to be officially received by the Mongolian government. Yet it was another five years before the first perma- nently assigned American diplomats finally arrived in Ulaan- baatar. As Kenneth Jarrett, the Mongolian desk officer in 1987, wrote to the authors: “The level of interest was moderate … but there also was not much objection.” The U.S. waited for a signal FS HERITAGE DIPLOMATSMAKE ADIFFERENCE The U.S. and Mongolia 1986-1990 In the 1992 FSJ , Ambassador Joe Lake describes setting up the U.S. embassy in Ulaanbaatar. Today he and his son explore how that relationship was built. BY JOSEPH E . LAKE AND M I CHAE L AL L EN LAKE ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/SAIKO3P