Competing with the Von Trapps

Columns | Edward Steen | March 2013

The Sound of Music is a 1965 musical film directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

When I saw that your excellent Vienna Review was now under the wing of Falter (which I admire very much), I thought I would send along the following from a recent column by my friend Simon Hoggart in The Guardian.

We have friends from our days in Washington who have always been involved in Foreign Affairs and diplomacy. They have long experience, and would like some more – perhaps by his becoming an ambassador.

The most desired posts – London, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo, etc – are out of reach because they always go to the big fundraisers, usually with a career diplomat at their elbow telling them what to do.

Our friends would be happy with something quite modest. But they are in competition with hundreds, perhaps thousands of others. And the process is incredibly lengthy and complicated. A single ill-wisher in the state department or the White House can ruin your chances. Even having a close chum in a position of power does not necessarily help.

Some time ago, the wife reported:

"We were on track for a multilateral position in Vienna, till we received a call from our best friend in White House personnel. Things could go sideways for us. Why? Because The Sound Of Music had just been shown on network TV, leading to ‘a new surge of interest in Austria’."

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