LAWYERS AND DIPLOMATS
By Roland Watson
At this point we can take a further short detour, and consider two related occupations: lawyers and diplomats. As to lawyers, in their effects they are like the police. As you add police, you get more crime - they need crime - or at least more criminals, and as you add lawyers you get more litigation. Lawyers are also great supporters of determinism, i.e., that we are victims, that we are not personally responsible for our circumstances. This is highly ironic (not to mention contradictory), because although their clients are not responsible, other people - their clients' targets - are. It is as if will exists selectively, as if it is possessed only by those people or institutions to whom they are opposed.
Regarding diplomats, while one of their primary roles is to solve international problems and crises, they actually have a counterincentive not to. If they do solve a crisis they are heroes, but they will probably soon be forgotten. But if they do not solve the crisis, rather, if they take steps that actually prolong it, then they stay in the limelight. (And they like this! Jetting around the world, staying in luxury hotels and being on TV, is fun!)
Because of this, their interest to meet their needs, diplomacy is often less than sincere. Indeed, it is regularly as effective as a toothless dog. Timid, duplicitous and disputatious, diplomats circle around problems rather than truly try to solve them. Indeed, "diplomatic" means not being direct, not addressing problems so as to solve them. Sometimes it even seems as if there is an unspoken contest over how much they can ignore.
"I am a diplomat, so I will not be specific."
- Win Aung, Foreign Minister of the Burmese dictatorship, Time Asia interview. November 15, 1999 (He has a lot to ignore!)
In an earlier context, that of fighting addiction, we saw that saying a firm and resounding "No!," and sticking to it, is much easier than allowing yourself a few lapses. The same goes with diplomacy. Proof of my point about the real intent of a great amount of diplomacy is that diplomats almost never say "no." They always accept a few, even many, "yeses," even though these almost always entail all manner of social wrongs: the imprisonment of dissidents; extrajudicial murders; further conquest; etc.
"No" is a principle. "Yes, but only this time," or "maybe," are rationalizations, a way to trick yourself, or others, that something unacceptable in general, in a particular situation (or many particular situations) is not. For diplomats, as for the representatives of all our social institutions, the end justifies the means. They rarely have, or follow, ethical principles. Diplomats regularly, if not usually, pursue political and economic interests, the reality of global "geopolitics," over ethical principles. Furthermore, the idea that you should take advantage of those whom you are intended to serve, can actually be viewed as a principle, at least in a negative sense.
© Roland Watson 2016