Monday, October 01, 2007

History, Bilking, Other Fun

Whew, i'm back. It's been a busy week. i had a house guest from Monday to yesterday, which was actually quite nice but interrupted a lot of my normal routines. We've done some very interesting things in class in dealing with diplomatic history, but i won't bore you with the details. Instead, i'll turn to the discussion of themes. We discussed the conflict between idealism and realism in early foreign policy - the difference between wanting to create a new economic system that wasn't dependent on the British and working within the mercantile system, between supporting democratic revolutions around the world and dealing with monarchies in Europe. While the exact issues have changed, we still face this choice. Do we more overtly support the protesters in Burma in what appears to be another fizzled uprising, or do we save our influence for something with more direct impact on us and not piss off India and China?

We were asked to write a maxim that describes our personal take on diplomacy, its goals and rationales. Some examples given were things like Roosevelt's paraphrased "Speak softly and carry a big stick," as well as some from previous A-100 classes. Before i share mine, i'd like to ask you what you would write. We were directed to keep the maxims to one sentence, although it could be a rather long sentence. What do you think should guide our policy?

In other news, it's time for another story of government waste. This isn't so much wasteful as just really cool for me and unfortunate for everyone else. So there's a library in the main State building in DC. At the back, tucked into a corner, is a small room that is literally full to bursting with stacks of wall maps - political, resource, topographical, economic, regional, national, global, you name it. The best part? i get them for free! i have found a very cheap way to get rid of the terrible artwork my landlord provided (Paul Klee, etc) and coat my walls with something i love much more. i currently have a 4'X3' map of oil resources and pipelines in the Caspian basin and a 4'X4' map of the Middle East (Egypt to Iran, Yemen to Turkey). Holy crap, i am excited. If you're very lucky, i will obtain maps and a flag for you of wherever i go for my first tour. Thanks, Uncle Sam!

Okay, time to return to my experiment on the stove... some Egyptian meaty stew that i think i have horribly interpreted. We'll see. Be thinking about places in DC of which you'd want to see crazy photos... it's time i got to know our capitol better!


  1. You know what else...they have books at the State Department library as well! I got a lot of reading done through them while I was in DC alone for 10 months!

  2. Yeah, but the books aren't free for me to keep for ever and ever. That's the largest attraction of the map room!

    Besides, i'm assuming that whatever walled-off compound i'm in at this point next year will leave me plenty of spare time for reading.

  3. U.S. foreign policy has historically been centered on the tension between its two primary goals in the world: doing good and doing well.

    (I stole that from one of my classes in my undergraduate days...I forget which class or professor it was, but I think its still apt!)