This shameful--but unsurprising, if one has ever interacted with Foreign Service types--incident reminded me of a _Mad Magazine_ satire from the late 1960s (when the magazine was still capable of publishing sophisticated humor) that called into question the expertise of those people we count on for the smooth functioning of the world: generals, doctors, engineers, airline pilots, scientists, political leaders, etc. The underlying proposition was that these folk were no more likely actually to know what they were doing than the reader was in his own field of endeavor . . . a frightening thought when you reflect on it seriously. _Mad_'s humorists were better social analysts than they knew.
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