Public Diplomacy

I’m in “public diplomacy” training now, in preparation for my next job in Vietnam. The training is enjoyable, and it’s clear that my next job will be different from my last job.

Coincidentally, I just finished this interesting book: “Dirty Diplomacy.” The author was the ambassador from the UK to Uzbekistan starting in 2003.

This guy had an amazing experience before he got fired. He did some wonderful things that an ambassador should do. He traveled around the country in the attempt to learn what was really happening in the country. That helped him to be an effective advocate for British businesses operating in Uzbekistan. It also made his reports back to Britain more accurate.

He also learned about the terrible government corruption and human rights violations in the country. And he had the courage to call out the host government on the abuses. He wasn’t a very diplomatic diplomat. But even though he publicly embarrassed the host government, the result was that the president of the country seemed to respect him more.

He also did some things that an ambassador shouldn’t do. He made some unwise choices with his personal life that would definitely get me in trouble if I did them. In fact, I would probably lose my job if I did some of the things that he did.

The author described the inner workings of the British foreign service. It was fun for me to compare the workings of the UK Foreign Office and the U.S. State Department.

Then last weekend I re-watched the movie “Good Night and Good Luck.” The film tells the back story of the famous media battle between Edward R. Murrow and Joseph McCarthy.

The movie is more relevant to me now because of what Murrow did later in life. He left television journalism and became the Director of the United States Information Agency in 1961. That agency later became part of the State Department. It became the “public diplomacy” area of specialization, which is my current specialty.

Between training, reading books and watching movies, I’m overdosing a little bit on diplomacy. Time to branch out and do something different. Maybe I’ll go hiking.

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