From a speech by retired diplomat David Newsom, the honoree, given at the Jit Trainor awards ceremony on Nov. 20 at Georgetown University:
I was an English major. Frequently in my foreign service career, flashes from Shakespeare have suggested understandings of contemporary personalities. One could not view the vacillation of the shah of Iran during the revolution without thinking of Hamlet. I once called on the deposed king of Saudi Arabia, Saud bin Abdul Aziz; with his hulking figure and poor eyesight he reminded me of Lear. And who, with experience in the Middle East, can read "Julius Caesar" without thinking contemporary thoughts.
I am not suggesting that the classics of literature take the place of the necessary courses for modern diplomacy. The professional curriculum is full of essential elements. And much of the human comedy comes through in these courses. Beyond them, I am suggesting that true preparation for diplomacy requires a lifetime of attention to understanding the basic elements that guide men and women in the governance of their societies.
We need to encourage in our future diplomats and representatives abroad that capacity to look beyond the facades of other societies to determine the sources of power, the true nature of personalities and the ability to communicate realities to those who may not wish to listen. With that must go the building of a solid confidence in one's self so that one's individuality will not be suppressed or overcome by the exigencies of an often unpleasant and unpredictable world. Instead, with an education that keeps all aspects of life in perspective, the diplomat can catch the excitement and promise of being a participant in the making of history.