Laurence Pope, a career American diplomat, has
written a cranky little book, The Demilitarization of American
Diplomacy: Two Cheers for Striped Pants. It has some
faults, upon which I prefer not to dwell. (But just for minor examples, George
Marshall's last name has two "L"s, and I don't think John Winthrop's flagship,
the Arabella, was a sloop.)
Instead, I recommend the book for the pungent
observations sprinkled through it, in imitation of the
aphoristic style of La Rochefoucauld:
"[T]he prevailing American diplomatic style
is blunt to the point of arrogance."
"The Louis Quatorzieme version of American
exceptionalism was the divine right of kings."
"The State Department's foreign policy
functions have largely migrated to a National Security Staff at the White
House, an off-the-books agency impervious to Congressional oversight and public
scrutiny.... It is operational to a fault."
"The American military ... lives to plan, and
ideas are important to it."
"The real revolution in American military
affairs was the recognition of the ancient truth that war is a branch of
Because of Assange and other leaks, some of
the most important communications nowadays are "conducted by e-mail or back
The cyberworld has "a strong bias toward
"In a world where information moves with the
speed of thought, the issue is usually not what is happening, but what should
be done about it."
"Dwight Eisenhower was perhaps the last American
president who understood the making of strategy."
As for Benghazi, Pope has an interesting view,
given that he was the temporary replacement in Tripoli for the murdered
ambassador, Chris Stevens. Pope alleges that the coverage of the incident -- presumably
Fox's -- was "vile partisan agitprop." He doesn't elaborate.