HOW DIPLOMACY HAS CHANGED…
During the last five years as I was researching and writing Diplomatic
Dance, there has been a dramatic change in the job descriptions
of foreign ambassadors.
ORIGINAL ASSIGNMENT: APRES COLD WAR
Originally when I was asked to write Diplomatic Dance, the assignment
was to write about the changes in diplomacy, foreign ambassadors'
jobs here due to the end of The Cold War. But, during all those
interviews, I realized that they were, on a daily basis, tackling
the same things I was.
Here were these distinguished, well-educated individuals who
had often had secretaries or aides keeping their "front
office" purring, now running their own shows in a much
more entrepreneurial way-learning to use & keep up with
their own e-mail, scribbling away on Palm Pilots and pecking
on their personal computers, while keeping one ear on CNN's
and MSNBC's worldwide coverage AND still finding time to create
their country's first Website. (When I started my research,
not one embassy had a website.)
WORLD IS ON ONE TIME--
They no longer have any luxury of waiting to reply or even informing.
Now, they need to be expert instant analysts giving professional
play-by-play observations to their Foreign Minister, President,
Prime Minister or Monarch. For today's ambassador, the world
is on one time.
BRITAIN'S FIRST DISPATCH--
In comparison, Britian's first minister, sent to America in 1791,
didn't send a dispatch home until 1793-two years later!
IT'S TRADE, TRADE, TRADE--
Besides e-mailing, faxing and Fed-Xing changing the tempo of
this very proper profession, the single most dramatic change
is that today's ambassador -whether he or she is an economist
or never even took a course in statistics must think like a businessperson.
Washington's most successful ambassadors are a combination of
lobbyist, public relations and marketing specialist, charismatic
speaker, sometime fund raiser, always gracious host and Chief
Financial Officer as well as CEO of their embassy here.
Of course, the women who are ambassadors have to not only run
the show at the embassy but also have to oversee everything at
the residence. Plus, they often take care of their own family's
needs-with children and parents usually hundreds, sometimes thousands
of miles away.
CLEVER, THRIFTY HOSTS--
No longer does everyone have unlimited budgets, huge staffs for
extravagant entertaining of years past. Sometimes ambassadors
and their spouses cook,
pluck flowers from their own gardens, shop for bargains at Price
Club to entertain on a budget.
Gail Scott 2003. All Rights Reserved.
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