Thursday, January 19, 2006

"transformational diplomacy"...New buzzwords?

Under the leadership of Condoleeza Rice the US diplomatic corps is undergoing a shifting of gears.
(So they say. If this works, then the received wisdom about all things bureaucratic and institutional turns out to have been wrong.)
'Scuse my skepticism, but this may turn out to be important after all. Today's Washington Post reading assignment...

...diplomats will not be promoted into the senior ranks unless they accept assignments in dangerous posts, gain expertise in at least two regions and are fluent in two foreign languages, citing Chinese, Urdu and Arabic as a few preferred examples...100 jobs in Europe and Washington will be immediately shifted to expanded embassies in countries such as India, China and Lebanon. Many of these diplomats had been scheduled to rotate into coveted posts in European capitals this summer, and the sudden change in assignment has caused some distress.

Distress, indeed.
That may be the understatement of the decade.

I am taking this opportunity to credit a very sharp blog source who always impresses me with his astuteness. Whoever he is, The Lounsbury is as sharp-witted as he is sharp-tongued. Apparently in a battle with cancer, he seems to be a business or investment advisor whose area of expertise is MENA (I had to look it up: acronym for Middle East North Africa). His acerbic comments pack more substance per unit than most I read. I link this morning with some reluctance, but I do so because today's post only has one piece of profanity and, believe it or not, isn't as caustic as most.

His personal comments are delicious: Those few US diplos who have defended the system rather struck me as bureaucrats, although usually far more straight up than the delightfully corrupt ones I liked, like my EU colleagues...anyone who has read me for a while has heard me whinge on endlessly about the isolated character of the US diplos work set up as compared to their colleagues....And as noted, the really active ones don't like it one bit.

The State Department has a link explaining Transformational Diplomacy. Looks like more than a soundbite.
Chirol at Coming Anarchy also noticed the same article and linked to it. He's a US citizen, grad student in a German university, studying Arabic. People like that tend to keep up with stuff.

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