G8 to G20.... struggles for collaboration or control... Ireland and the treaty... sanctions, Iraq, internal revolution... Afghani war lords.. Millennial agreement for Africa.. German elections... three forks and four glasses.. big roses.... I can't read this menu... OH! This must be the casual dinner conversation of the day in the life of a diplomat.. I'm humbly lost and thankful for the knowledgeable GMF staff that guided the conversation tonight. We had a delightful evening at the home French Ambassador to the U.S., Pierre Vimont. My one regret is that the words were not as easily digestible as the delicious meal. I hope I just came across as pensive and well-dressed. I've got a bit of reading to do.
So, here's some food for thought. It's the introduction to a session we have tomorrow with Professor Gary Weaver from the School of International Service at the American University. He's apparently given these briefing for 27 years straight and has a great reputation as a dynamic and entertaining academic.
"Alexis de Tocqueville arrived in the United States in 1831 for a nine‐month trip. Yet his observations, in Democracy in America, about U.S. society seen from a European perspective remain thought‐provoking and relevant. Nothing is more striking to a European traveler in the United States than the absence of what we term the Government, or the Administration. Written laws exist in America, and one sees the daily execution of them; but although everything moves regularly, the mover can nowhere be discovered. The hand which directs the social machine is invisible. In Europe, we are wont to look upon a restless disposition, an unbounded desire of riches, and an excessive love of independence, as propensities very dangerous to society. Yet these are the very elements which insure a long and peaceful future to the republics of America. In no country in the civilized world is less attention paid to philosophy than in the United States. The Americans have no philosophical school of their own; and they care but very little for all the schools into which Europe is divided, the very names of which are scarcely known to them."
178 years ago! How things haven't changed. I love this stuff. I think most brand professionals are (pseudo) cultural anthropologists at heart. We put our energy into understanding why and how groups and sub-groups of people do things. We even call them tribes. Most times, even though we are outside of the group we are observing, we still share some kind of underlying cultural framework so it makes the learning curve quick. Our jobs get much harder when we don't have that. I've crossed that line into much harder but I hope I can take advantage of being an outsider and see something new.