Friday, July 01, 2005

Advice for New Ambassadors, per Patricia Kushlis

Patricia Kushlis at WhirledView has issued "A Primer for First-time Political Appointee Ambassadors," a guide for the 30 percent of U.S. ambassadors who are appointed because ... well ... they bought their way in.

Kushlis' tongue-in-cheek look at the do's and don'ts of repping the U.S. is a mini-guide for Americans abroad: Soak up everything you can about your posting. Don't speak up until you know what's what and who's who. Don't boss people around. Above all, let your staff handle business:

1. Eschew substance. You probably don’t know the issues and won’t be able to explain them properly to experienced career diplomats at the foreign ministry or in the President or Prime Minister’s office. Its embarrassing to botch it up; so don’t try. That’s why you have career staff – including a deputy chief of mission and political and economic officers who have spent their lives learning the intricacies of this arcana and can read and understand State Department bureaucratize. Let them take care of it. Besides, do you really want to spend your time writing reporting cables back to Washington on a topic you don’t understand? Like the U.S.-Finnish coated-paper dispute, for instance? I doubt it.


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