The Ugly American: Influence and Effects
Diplomacy is the art of dealing with foreign countries in a sensitive and effective way. The ability to influence the people contributes to effective American diplomacy. In, The Ugly American, William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick, comment on the nature of American diplomacy in 1950s Southeast Asia. They identify the characteristics and effects of both inept and skilled diplomacy. The book highlights knowledge of the language, history, and culture as critical components to the ability to influence indigenous populations. In many ways the situations and characters described in the book, mirror the situations and challenges faced by Special Operations Forces (SOF) today. The Special Operations Imperatives are a planning tool that SOF use to influence the people and situations they encounter. In order to understand the influence and effects of proper application of the Special Operations Imperatives the stories of Homer Atkins, Colonel Hillandale and Solomon Asch provide a setting to compare and contrast with my own experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq and Jordan.
Homer Atkins understood the needs of the Sarkhanese people. He identified small scale, local options to address challenges affecting the day-to-day lives of the local population. He used local materials and humbly sought out and accepted input from the local population to ensure long-term sustainment of a bicycle operated water pump system. Homer Atkins treated the Sarkhanese with