Thursday, October 03, 2013

Your Chosen Profession

Tom Bishop: Nathan, we killed this man. We used him and we killed him. Okay then, you got to help me understand this one. You got... Nathan, what are we doing here? And don't give me some bullshit about the greater good.

Nathan Muir: That's exactly what it's about. Because what we do is unfortunately very, very necessary. And if you're not willing to sacrifice scum like Schmidt for those that want nothing more than their freedom, then you better take a long hard look at your chosen profession, my friend. Because it doesn't get any easier. You wanna walk? You wanna walk, walk.

-- Spy Game (2001)
Daniel H. Garrett walked.

My first response to a cursory reading of Garrett's letter, which I only found out about because of a mention of it in Sentaku, was, "Amaterasu, have I ever met this person?"

My second thought was, "I have to email X to ask him just how editorial at Japan Focus came to approve the publication of this lettter."

My third was, "How did the U.S. government manage to hire someone as unclear about the nature of the business he has chosen? The record of Garrett's education and employment on LinkedIn indicates an individual of rather...unconventional makeup.

I can sympathize with a desire to do good everyday in all things. And diplomats do a lot of good and decent things, overall. However, delivering incredibly bad, stupid, short-sighted and insulting messages to friends and enemies alike, as well as ferreting out intelligence from persons who are naive enough to open up to you, was Mr. Garrett's job -- a job that hundreds of diplomats from all parts of the globe do in Tokyo every day.

Speaking only in generalities until everything is declassified was another part of Mr. Garrett's job -- which the thousands of diplomats passing through in Tokyo manage to do in deference to the needs and interests of their employers. Keeping one's peace does not mean keeping quiet, either. Former U.S. Foreign Service officers like Rodney Armstrong and Stephen Harner manage to engage in ferocious criticism of the Japan-U.S. relationship while keeping the details of their own service under wraps.

Mr. Garrett seems to have been an idealist mistakenly in service to an imperial power -- a well-intentioned, pro-democracy, inadvertent (to borrow Robert Dujarric's adjective) imperial power, but an imperial power nevertheless. Walking out on that empire turns one's employer into a laughingstock -- but not for the unfortunate policies and presumptuous attitude revealed. No, for having handed to an amateur a job reserved for professionals.

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