Demian Smith: What makes for a good US diplomat?

A discussion with Demian Smith, US diplomat, returning to Washington DC reflecting on his posting here in New Zealand at a time of big political and geopolitical shifts and events.

This week's discussion is with Demian Smith, Political and Economic Counselor in the US Embassy here in Wellington. He is an experienced well-known, well-liked, well-respected and highly effective diplomat. Demian's three year posting is coming to an end and he'll return to Washington DC later this month. 

For the discussion I’m joined by NZUS Council chair - Leon Grice - for a very open conversation with Demian about his time here, what it takes to be a good diplomat and whether it is different being a US diplomat, we reflect on some of the big political and geopolitical shifts, movements and events of the last three years.

We look at the current challenging and complex terrain in the NZ-US relationship - China, the WTO, and the multilateral/international order - where there may often be agreement on the need for reform but differences in the approach, and what he thinks the future holds. Above all it is a discussion that celebrates democracy, our shared democratic values, and the ability of democratic nations to change. 

Host biography:
Jordan Small:

Guest biography:
Demian Smith:
Leon Grice:

For comments and feedback:

Credits – opening and closing music:
Happy Boy Theme Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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Established in 2001, we are a non-partisan, non-government organisation focused on advancing New Zealand’s interests in a strong bilateral relationship with the US.

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