Like to travel the world with your own aides fluffing every pillow? Like to whiz through customs with a wave and a smile? Like to sip Grand Marnier with Francois Mitterrand and bum cigars from Fidel Castro?
Then have we got a job for you! Yes, you--even you--can be an assistant secretary of state. No experience necessary. You doubt? Read on.
Perhaps you've heard about the rise of Gregory Newell--a doubleknit-to- striped-pants saga of how a Reagan advance man, Mormon missionary and Michael Deaver prot,eg,e got to be an assistant secretary of state at age 32.
Okay, the extreme brevity of Newell's r,esum,e may be unusual, but you could fill a small think tank with other instant foreign policy experts.
A few years back, George Shultz was a labor economist with as much foreign policy experience as Ray Donovan. Shultz's ascension must delight Donovan since it proves that a former labor secretary and construction company president can grow up to be a calm, reassuring and knowledgeable secretary of state. In his new post, Shultz benefits from extensive briefings by William Clark, President Reagan's national security adviser, who at his confirmation hearing a year ago didn't know the name of Zimbabwe's prime minister.
Do you have any idea what landing a top foreign policy job means? Serving in the White House or on the top two floors of the State Department is as close as America comes to offering a life peerage. It is a credential like none other. A brain surgeon does not acquire his dexterity in a year. But just six months at Foggy Bottom turned a state judge like Clark into a skilled foreign policy practitioner.
Can you think of another job that secures a table by the dance floor and six- figure book contracts, yet requires less apprenticeship than learning to drive a tractor trailer?
Here's what we're offering: the first complete Afghanistan-to-Zimbabwe guide to instant foreign policy expertise. There's no guarantee that you will rise as fast as Newell or Clark, or become secretary of state like Shultz, but with a little imagination and--dare we say it? --chutzpah, you too can get a chance to practice shuttle diplomacy.
You may already be half-way to foreign policy expertise without even knowing it. Add simultaneous translation and your local PTA is pretty much the same as UNESCO.
You're in great shape if you've actually been abroad. So what if you didn't prep with the shah in Switzerland like Richard Helms? What about that two- week golfing vacation in the Bahamas? With a little imagination this can be repackaged as providing a vantage point on the Caribbean Prosperity Sphere.
All sorts of things can work for you. Until 1977, Patt Derian's was a prominent Mississippi liberal. But that was enough for the Carter Administration to license her to practice global empathy on behalf of dissidents everywhere. Little did Gregory Newell realize when he roamed the French countryside as a Mormon missionary that he was acquiring what the State Department would later characterize as "an ability to dialogue with NATO."
But what if you attended P.S. 111 instead of a Swiss prep school? What if you took shop instead of French in high school? What if you think a man named Zimbabwe is the prime minister of Rhodesia? What if, frankly, you have nothing going for you foreign-policy-wise?
Don't despair. Here's a six-step game plan. In six short months, you will be holding forth at Georgetown dinner parties on the fading of bipolarity in an emergent polycentric world. Or, if you prefer, on the fading of polycentrism in an emergent bipolar world. You may not be ready for the State Department yet, but you'll certainly be up to advising Walter Mondale on critical foreign policy issues.
STEP 1. THE RIGHT TRIP
We're not talking about the grand tour or a week at the Gritti Palace in Venice--just a brief trip that won't cost much more than renting a beach house in Rehoboth. The secret is to be picky about your destination. What you want is a place so exotic that when you mention it (as you will, and always in passing), everyone will assume that you've been to all the obvious places.
The ideal destination is Albania. But that tiny xenophobic enclave in the Balkans has been off-limits to Americans for a generation. Nonetheless, there are three other promising itineraries:
1) Witness the spectacular clash of ancient cultures in the war-torn Middle East.
2) Savor the vanishing charms of a backward province in historic Western Europe.
3) Embrace the cause of the dissenting intelligentsia in downtrodden Eastern Europe.
Your choice should not be made lightly, as if you were going off for a week of nude volleyball at Club Med. You will be acquiring your intellectual roots, demarcating a speciality and pursuing a cause, while, of course, building a resume.
Clashing Cultures: Two weeks and a sleeping bag are all you need to grasp the elemental passions--biblical or koranic--that determine life in the Middle East. If you happen to be non- Jewish, roughing it in the Negev can be worth as much as a letter of recommendation from Jesse Helms. An incomparable experience, no matter what your religion, is to travel with a friendly Bedouin tribe, from wadi to wadi, over the shifting sands of the Saudi desert.
What you have gone halfway around the world to find is a personal epiphany. It will come to you late at night, as you stare at the unblinking stars, downwind from where the camels are tethered. In the background is the incessant babble of voices in Arabic. Or your Israeli companion explaining the real reasons for Al Haig's fall.
Years later you will be able to recreate this night, inndetails increasingly more perfect, when you slept and dreamt on the ground so close to where it all began.
Vanishing Charms: If you opt for Western Europe, you must spend your two weeks in an obscure village so lost in the mists of time that no one there has ever heard of Karl Malden and American Express. If you've ever met anyone who's been there--don't go.
You're after authenticity, not Michelin stars. So what if your bed is lumpy, there is just one caf,e and its only entr,ee is goat? Your goal is to be able to come back to Washington and say, "In St. Briac our French was of no use--the people these days insist on speaking Breton."
Congratulations, you have now established yourself as an expert with first- hand experience with the passions of separatism that threaten the cohesiveness of the traditional nation-states of Europe.
Embraceable Dissidents: Forget tourist traps like Russia and Poland. Instead, go to Bulgaria. Once settled in your commercial-class hotel in drab Sofia--Eastern Europe's answer to Akron--your goal is to find your dissident as quickly as possible and get the hell out of there.
Viktor, the abstract sculptor, has been arrested, but Dmitri, the up-and- coming nonconformist weaver, can be found afternoons reading the Bible on a park bench in front of the library between 4 and 6.
You wish you had his convictions. You were moved by the intensity with which he described the first time he read a forbidden book: Gone With the Wind.
You'll never forget Dmitri, the man who taught you the true meaning of freedom.
Once you arrive back in Washington, having come to know the hearts and minds of real people the world over, it will be time for your language lessons. Forget Berlitz--we're talking about English.
STEP 2. SPEAK ENGLISH LIKE A DIPLOMAT Diplomacy is a language of nuance and precision, though not necessarily clarity. It is not enough to drop phrases like arc of crisis, window of vulnerability and infrastructure of democracy. Nor is it sufficient to brandish acronyms such as CODEL (congressional delegation), MEMCO (memorandum of conversation) and DCM (deputy chief of mission at an embassy). You must learn a new way of speaking intelligible only to the cognoscenti, whose ranks you are about to join.
As your first exercise, we have taken four simple sentences, understandable to a fourth-grader, explaining American policy in the Middle East. A foreign policy expert has translated them into a language that would be appropriate for a briefing by State Department spokesman Dean Fischer.
"Israel is our friend."
Translation: "For a combination of political, ideological and historical reasons, we are firmly committed to pursuing policies which promote the survival and prosperity of the State of Israel."
"But the Arabs have oil."
Translation: "We are, nevertheless, sensitive to the increasing importance of the Arab world, both in terms of natural resources and strategic location, and we stand ready to establish a framework for cooperation with all the nations of the region."
"The Russians are trying to take over the Middle East."
Translation: "Aware of Russia's historic interest in the region, we are especially concerned with unceasing Soviet attempts at penetration and their cynical exploitation of local ideological and religious tensions."
"The deal between Israel and Egypt is a good thing, but it is just the beginning."
Translation: "The Camp David process is the cornerstone of our approach to this troubled region, and our primary objective must be to continue to facilitate the establishment of a just and durable peace."
What have you learned from this translation? That the language of foreign policy, which might be called State Department Mandarin, is characterized by excessive use of circumlocution, euphemism, code words and ambiguity.
Like all languages, State Department Mandarin is constantly evolving. In the Kissinger era, it was obligatory to use expressions like destabilize, linkage and conceptual framework. Now they are as outdated as the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Under Reagan, lace your conversation with these phrases: strategic consensus, unilateral advantage, and--that old standby--credibility.
One more tip. When you're called to the State Department for that final interview, make sure you slip in the expression "inter alia." All the Latin phrase means is "among other things," but said with confidence it suggests that you are the beneficiary of a classical education at the right prep school.
STEP 3. TRUE BRIT AND OTHER LIFESTYLE TIPS FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
In the heady days to come, your career could depend on the cut of your suit and the width of your tie. When it comes to clothes, remember a caveat: Striped pants are a metaphor, not a uniform.
And let's get rid of the common misperception that dressing preppy is all you need to make your career in Foggy Bottom. In truth, preppy is much too daring for the life diplomatic. Colors such as lime green, pink and canary yellow, however appropriate for a summer's weekend on Nantucket, are just not State Department. But you can never go wrong with dark grays and blues--and lots of them.
A decade ago, the smart thing was to acquire your wardrobe during your stopover in London. But that was before the continental look, better suited for gigolos than diplomats, invaded those sceptered isles. However, True Brit remains the right look. But now, the look can be purchased off-the-rack here at home, thanks to upscale emporiums like Ralph Lauren's Polo Shop. But resist anything that displays the polo player emblem.
A few words about spouses. Marrying well, which in your case may be too late, is the next best thing to being born with a reversible name like Warren Christopher or Winston Lord. It didn't hurt Elliott Abrams, Patt Derian's successor in the Reagan State Department, to have Norman Podhoretz as his father- in-law. Podhoretz,,not a bad name to drop, is the editor of Commentary and talks as if he invented anticommunism, instead of embracing it as a mid-life career move.
But even if your father-in-law works in a brewery in St. Louis, thehire are ways to ensure that your spouse makes the right impression. After all, you will be going to countless receptions and dinner parties as a team. Despite your newly acquired fluency in State Department Mandarin, there will be trouble ahead if your spouse can talk only about tuna casseroles or the Washington Redskins' fourth-round draft choice.
The solution is to impress upon your spouse the need for a suitable hobby-- and it takes a lot longer to master one than to become a foreign policy expert. Hobby talk is a time-tested way to fill the conversational voids that invariably occur at dinner when you find yourself seated next to the second secretary of the Burmese Embassy.
Like that brief trip abroad, your goal is to cultivate the impression that your entire Family Team has been everywhere and done everything. That's why your spouse should avoid the commonplace (photography, pottery) and embrace the avant-garde.
For instance, collecting Mola reverse appliqu,e, the sole cultural legacy of a vanishing Indian tribe on islands off the Panamanian coast, is an ideal choice. An even better move would be to turn your living room into a private gallery-- the only one west of the Danube featuring the non-conformist designs of our favorite Bulgarian weaver, Dmitri.
STEP 4. DEVELOP AN UNCONVENTIONAL SPECIALITY Up to now, we've been teaching the predictable. Now we are going to take a flier.
As a warm-up drill, examine the resumes of the top foreign policy people--parvenus like Shultz, Clark and Newell excluded. What do you find? Specialties like NATO, strategic arms, relations with the Soviet Union or international balance of payments. Conventional, safe and boring.
But these men could afford to take the easy path--they had so much else going for them: attending the right schools (Andover and Harvard); backing the right candidate (Reagan in '76 or even '68); working for the right senator (Henry Jackson) or joining the right Wall Street law firm (Dewey, Ballantine).
In your case, things are different. You're nobody. Soon to be somebody, but for the moment, still nobody. That's why you have to defy conventional wisdom.
How much would you have paid us back in March if we had told you to research the Falkland Islands? Insider information like this is the equivalent of being told 30 years ago to collect Ansel Adams photographs.
Can you imagine the thrill of being driven to the State Department in a chauffeured limousine as the only American with a research background in Falklandology?
Just picture yourself sitting across from Haig, as the then secretary of state leans forward and says earnestly, "Tell me, Harry, exactly how many sheep are there on those troubled islands?"
All your Yale graduate degrees and Rhodes scholarships aren't worth diddlysquat compared to being able to say, "Mr. Secretary, I can confidently say that there are approximately 762,457 sheep currently grazing in the Falklands."
Of course, it's too late now for you and the Falklands (or you and Haig), but there are many emerging crisis areas. Some will emerge faster than others--but what in life is a sure thing?
We are currently high on Baluchistan as a hitherto little-noticed tinderbox, a potential Sarajevo, the epicenter of the next arc of crisis. What's so promising about Baluchistan is that the only people who are aware of its strategic importance are you and those woebegone nomadic tribesman who live there. Baluchistan, as you will soon learn, is an area the size of France that cuts across Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and New Zealand.
Okay, not New Zealand. We were just checking to see if you were awake. The Baluchi issue has done that to people for centuries. That's why it's such a perfect speciality for you, someone with an appreciation for Asian nomads chafing under centralization and modernity.
Today a sovereign Baluchistan is a dream. Tomorrow it's your own office on the eighth floor of the State Department.
The place to learn about Baluchistan is the Library of Congress. The Baluchis' rugs, their quaint customs, their beautiful women, their boring political problems--they're all in the card catalogue.
Just scan a few books--no more than eight hours' reading. The name of the game here is fact-dropping. Just mention in a world-weary tone that the Baluchis were the real losers in both of Britain's Afghan wars.
Also point out, with just a hint of menace in your voice, that the Romanians and the Poles have been selling Baluchi weavers cheap dyes. You suspect this is part of a conspiracy to undermine the age-old standards of Baluchi craftsmanship.
Above all, as you stand at receptions sipping your Campari and soda, say a few sage words about the timeless attractions of nomadism in a sedentary world. You will quickly be seen as someone with an independent and prophetic point of view.
Want to hedge your bets? Not a bad idea just in case the Baluchis take a few more centuries to get their act together.
Religion can be your salvation. Everyone has heard about the Islamic revival, so that's pass,e. Zoroastrianism may be a bit too kinky, but how about betting on the rise of Buddhist millennialism? Your dog-eared copy of Alan Watts from the '60s will tell you all you need to know about this hitherto pacifist creed.
STEP 5. FORM A CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT YOU AS A MEMBER If you want to play things by the book, join the stodgy, upper-crust Council on Foreign Relations. After five years of faithful attendance and generous financial support, you could perhaps get to introduce the visiting Belgian minister of tourism at a luncheon. Ten years and many checks later, your reward might be an interim appointment to an advisory committee in Washington. At this rate, if you somehow get a job in the State Department, you'll be much too old to enjoy it.
We're here to cut through this kind of nonsense. Sure, an organization can help make your career in foreign policy. But life is short: Who has time to work your way up the ranks in someone else's club? Here's a ploy designed to build on the skills you've acquired so far--form your own organization.
We live in a society where one person issuing foreign policy pronouncements from his den in Rockville is a crank. But two such people, with the exact same views, can be the nucleus of a significant constituency.
Take the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, for example. Sounds impressive. But CDM is your classic letterhead organization.
Formed a decade ago to combat McGovernism in the Democratic Party, CDM's entire membership was listed on its letterhead. True, that letterhead included a senator (Henry Jackson) and our old friend Norman Podhoretz, but names of most other members were as anonymous as the spear-carriers in "Aida."
A decade later, CDM's membership is still just letterhead deep--all chiefs and no Indians. But its founders have made out like bandits. Jeane Kirkpatrick is now ambassador to the United Nations, Myer Rashish served until last January as under secretary of state for economic affairs, and Elliott Abrams, our favorite son-in-law, is currently assistant secretary of state for human rights. And they are all Democrats in a Republican administration.
Before you get distracted by minor details like members, spend an afternoon selecting the right name for your new organization. An appropriate name is important because the National Kumquat League is unlikely to be taken seriously when they call for an evenhanded policy in Northern Ireland. But anything that has words like "world" or "Atlantic" in its name takes on the aura of big-think.
Two of our favorites are the Atlantic Coalition for Tomorrow (ACT) and the Democratic Alliance for Rapprochement with Europe (DARE).
Now back to that other problem, membership. Anyone will do. After all, who was Jeane Kirkpatrick back in 1971? So try your in-laws, your stockbroker, a former boss and your college roommate.
Once you've lined up your rank-and- file, try for a few heavy-hitters. Out-of- office politicians are always a good bet, and after the 1980 elections Washington is full of them. These days Ed Brooke is pretty busy adding a bipartisan gloss to liberal organizations, but we hear that Frank Church and Birch Bayh return all their phone calls.
A reminder: Whatever you call your organization and no matter who you dredge up as members, insist that you speak for "a large national constituency."
So what if you call yourself The Committee of 10 Million? Nobody's going to challenge your claims, least of all the foreign policy community. They'll believe anything. They understand the rest of America about as well as they understand mud-wrestling.
Once your stationery is printed, you're ready for a public appearance. For a novice, this can be a moment of high anxiety. You picture yourself presiding over the first meeting, surrounded by family and friends, and having no agenda, no cause--absolutely nothing to say.
Have no fear. At your inaugural luncheon at the Mayflower Hotel-- which you pray will be on a slow news day--deliver a scathing attack on the administration's shocking inattention to the plight of the Baluchis, our true friends in thatmillennia strategically important area.
Two weeks later, preside over a symposium on your other favorite subject, "Buddhist Millenialism: A Threat to Whose Interests?"
Don't be discouraged if your two opening salvos don't make the front page of either The Washington Post or The New York Times. Newspapers sometimes have curious definitions of what's news.
Luckily, there are other ways of getting into print. Just by speaking out so eloquently on your two pet causes, you and your organization have established a certain legitimacy. Congratulations, you now qualify for the op-ed pages of major newspapers.
Condense your stirring oration on the Baluchis into 800 cogent words. Sharpen that comparison between Ronald Reagan and Neville Chamberlain in relation to the Baluchi question. One other editorial tip: It is always safe to attack the president for not having a coherent foreign policy. Make the Baluchi issue a case study.
If somehow you strike out at both The Post and The Times, try The Baltimore Sun or, if your point of view is hawkish enough, The Wall Street Journal. Once you hit print, mail copies, plus a brief handwritten note ("FYI-- Let's discuss over lunch"), to everyone in the administration whose job you covet.
Now you are ready to meet your mentor.
STEP 6. CHOOSING YOUR MENTOR AND HOW TO DITCH HIM Now that you are the publicized and published head of a going organization, meeting people who qualify as mentors is a cinch. We will instruct you in the time-tested techniques of mentor cultivation in a moment, but first let us stress the importance of choosing the right Alpine guide to lead you up the Mont Blanc of foreign policy.
With the possible exception of the Oxbridge tutorial system, nowhere is having a mentor as crucial as in Foggy Bottom. Were it not for Henry Kissinger, Al Haig would still be a bird-colonel and Larry Eagleburger would be languishing as the DCM in our embassy in Lagos.
Democrats have mentors, too. Foreign policy experts Tony Lake and Richard Holbrooke flourished in the Carter administration because of their long friendship with Cyrus Vance. Going way back, Dean Rusk was a World War II prot,eg,e of Gen. George Marshall.
In choosing your mentor, timing is all. It's too late to attach yourself to Shultz or Clark. You can't just stroll over to the State Department, worm your way into Eagleburger's office and say, "Excuse me, sir, I'm here looking for a mentor."
You might have been able to pull that off in Belgrade back in 1979. But then Eagleburger was merely ambassador to Yugoslavia. Now that he's No. 3 in the State Department, you'd have better luck trying to get Mick Jagger as your mentor.
Since you want to make it in the Reagan administration before the 1984 election, you should sign up with an out-of-office Reaganite. We're not talking about cronies such as Justin Dart or Betsy Bloomingdale. Far more solid bets are pillars of Wall Street such as Alan Greenspan (former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers) and Walter Wriston (chairman of Citicorp). But if you think our foreign policy will lurch further to the right, an ideologue like Podhoretz is ideal.
Now it's time to answer your question, "But how do I meet biggies like Greenspan and Podhoretz?"
Simple. Haven't you ever heard the term "testimonial dinner"? When someone is out of office (or, as in Podhoretz's case, waiting and waiting to be in office), he is particularly susceptible to blandishment emanating from Washington. Six weeks after you've unveiled your organization is just about the right time to begin the tradition of the annual awards dinner.
Do you have any idea of how fast Greenspan will hop on the Eastern Shuttle if he were offered the first Nelson A. Rockefeller World Humanitarian Award? Picture Podhoretz's face upon receiving your congratulatory telegram hailing him as the first recipient of the Francisco Franco Medal of Freedom.
Now that you have your honoree, the rest is expensive, but child's play. You will be seated in the back seaatmillenniat of the chauffeured limousine that picks him up at the airport. They'll be plenty of time to get acquainted as you nibble on lobster pat,e--or even Beluga caviar--in the suite you provide at the Madison Hotel.
No matter who've you roped into coming to the dinner, remember that your loyalty is to the honoree, not to your guests. Forget that you've created the occasion--your goal is to shield the honoree from hoi polloi. Practice this line: "Aren't these things awful?"
From now on in, it will be a special relationship. If you're lucky there will be a newspaper photo the next morning of the two of you locked in earnest conversation. Telephone calls and short notes will follow. His secretary will recognize your voice.
If you pick a man like Podhoretz, you can be sure that within weeks someone will attack him in the press. It could be his most recent book, an article or just an offhand remark at a symposium. You rush to his defense: a letter to the editor or a thoughtful op-ed piece lashing out at his critics.
But nothing has the emotional clout of an after-dinner phone call to your mentor on the day that he has been pilloried in the press. There he is, brooding in his favorite armchair, when you call to say, "I thought you might be down over that piece in The Times this morning, but I'm convinced that you will be vindicated--and soon."
Now he owes you. It is a debt that can be repaid in only one way: getting you that office on the eighth floor of the State Department. You might just sweep in as part of his entourage or, even if he remains an outside adviser, he still has the clout to get you into the finals for the next available job.
At a time like this, it's only natural to feel sentimental toward your mentor. But to all things there is a season. So when you are summoned for that final interview, be sure to say: "Mr. Secretary, you know that Norman and I are close. But his anti-Communism is a bit too shrill for me."
The secretary of state will understand. Remember that Haig ditched Kissinger, and Clark, once he reached the White House, turned on Haig.
You are now at the portals of what we know will be an illustrous career. To be sure, there are other doors you will have to open on your own: waiting for months for your FBI clearance; getting your letter of appointment signed by the president; and that critical Senate confirmation hearing. You'll do fine. But just in case something goes awry, remember there's always an ambassadorship. And anyone--and we mean anyone--can be an ambassador.