Thursday, April 3, 2014

US Ambassadors: Diplomats or Agitators?

Ulson Gunnar 
April 3, 2014 

A diplomat is defined as "a person who represents his or her country's government in a foreign country: someone whose work is diplomacy," while diplomacy is considered, "the work of maintaining good relations between the governments of different countries." This is with the avoidance of arousing hostility kept particularly in mind. An ambassador, the highest ranking diplomat representing their respective nation while living in another country, should therefore be exceptionally skilled in diplomacy.

An agitator on the other hand is considered by definition "a person who tries to get people angry or upset so that they will support an effort to change a government." A diplomat and agitator would appear to be polar opposites pursuing opposing agendas while using opposing means and methods. But apparently American politics find accommodation for both within a single job description. 

The parting shots of China's establishment reflected resentment over the machinations US Ambassador Gary Locke helped facilitate during his 2 year stint in Beijing. The Chinese paper, The Global Times, reported in its article, "US Ambassador to China to step down," specifically that, "amid the applause Locke won from the public praising his style, heated debates stirred as adverse voices arose saying Locke making a show was an American plot to stir citizens' resentment of their own leaders." 

Locke's "style" was that of a modest man "of the people," hinging on widely publicized images of him carrying his own luggage and ordering his own coffee at the airport upon his arrival. It was a playact designed intentionally by Washington script writers to stand in contrast to the perception that China's leadership is opulent and out of touch with the Chinese people. In reality, Locke has well above average annual income in America and many times more than the average Chinese citizen. He holds millions of dollars in assets and is ranked as one of the richest executive branch officials in the United States, according to the South China Morning Post.

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