When I was a student at university, the cleverest were supposed to covet a job at the FO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office).
Personally, I've always felt that the UK was very badly served by the vast majority of diplomats and officials. Generals are always feared to be fighting the last war, but British diplomats always seem to be trying to pull off the coups that their predecessors failed to.
This report from Chatham House's exiting director is a good case in point:
The Chatham House report said his legacy would be the "disaster" of Iraq and his failure to influence the US...
In his report, outgoing Chatham House director Victor Bulmer-Thomas said the Iraq invasion had been a "terrible mistake" and, along with the post war "debacle", had damaged the UK's global influence.
The FO is always, always courting the Arabs! It's a knee-jerk thing. Anybody who's spent a few hours listening to experts on the subject of the Middle East would suggest that if you really want to do it, there's no way except by being extremely tough on dictatorial regimes in the region (which seems to be most of them - with the exception of Israel). Of course, this won't make you any friends, but it will garner you some respect. And might even cut down the terrorism a little.
But that's not what the FO has ever meant. Deal with nasty grubby individuals? Oh no! We want to court the oligarchs and the dictators. They're the ones who control the flow of oil and suppress the Muslim Brotherhood.
The UK's been trying this tack for 65 years now (at least). It doesn't work. That's obvious.
At least Tony Blair tried something different. And that's why all the bureaucrats hate him.
Dame Pauline Neville-Jones is another idiot.
Here's the first part of the summary from her report to the Conservative Party:
The attacks of 9/11 were a warning but it was only on July 7th 2005 that the UK was forced to come face to face with the true scale and danger of the security threat. The fact that the bombers were born in Britain shocked us into realising the connection between security and community cohesion. The fact that the bombers were radicalised in part by events outside the United Kingdom forced us to recognise that foreign affairs have become domestic affairs.
Again and again, despite John Howard's fisking of this whole fallacy, British politicians and civil servants make the link between foreign policy and domestic terrorism. It isn't there! They want to destroy us and what we do is just used as a pretext.