Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Welcome to your dream job?

"Just make me the ambassador to Samoa or something. I'll call in every day with surf reports." I remember that line from Jesse Ventura's autobiography, "I Ain't Got Time to Bleed." Wouldn't it be great, having minimal duties while lounging away the years on the government payroll in some South Pacific paradise?

Maybe. Then again, maybe not:
Away from the high-profile embassies, the longer, untold narrative of the Wikileaks cables is often one of triviality, inconsequence, and moments of wry, Beckettian humour. The US runs 292 diplomatic missions across 175 countries, and many of them lie within a kind of diplomatic hinterland. Cables sent from the islands of the Pacific, or the steppes of Mongolia, generally reveal not the fast-paced interaction of a global superpower, but the loneliness of the long-distance diplomat.
Some busy embassies churn out hundreds of cables a year. But since 2007, successive US ambassadors to Samoa (pop: 179,000) have compiled just nine – all of them odes to banality. The post's only two dispatches in 2007 noted little more than the embassy's inability "to provide 'meet-and-greet' service at the airport" to state department officials.
It's a year before they have anything further to report. This time, though, the stakes are at least briefly higher: horror of horrors, some protesters have delivered a petition to embassy officials. "This is the first protest against the embassy since it opened 20 years ago," reports a breathless US chargĂ© d'affaires, who must have been sorely tempted to add an exclamation mark. But we soon discover why he didn't: "Despite our lack of practice … all went well."
Still, if the government is watching (and odds are good they are), I'd happily give it a try.

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