Sunday, August 10, 2008

Knowing The Difference

Greetings gentle readers,

In the blog Looting Matters, blog author David Gill asked,

"This is emotive talk ("sold out", "price of betrayal") from Tompa. Is he suggesting that organisations that "honour" individuals have ulterior motives? What about organisations that reward congressmen for supporting "collector rights" or intervening "in issues of importance to ancient coin collectors"? Or is that different?"

Fair question and the answer is yes - it is different and Gill being a citizen of the U.K. (Britain) may not understand why it is different. This is my expanded reply to him:

Yes, to your last question, it is different, substantially different. As someone who studied International Relations when I attended university, I can tell you that the loyalty of an embassy or State Dept employee who works for the U.S. Govt is to the U.S. both 1st and above all other countries. For a U.S. diplomat to be rewarded by a foreign country for going against the interests of it's own citizens could be grounds for both dismissal and likely jail time. It is foreign influence over a U.S. diplomat against the wishes and interests of the citizenry he/she is meant to serve, protect and defend. That person would be acting contrary to the very description of their job. I expect the same kind of loyalty would be required of any home office or foreign service employee in any other country. The mission statement of the U.S. State Dept says,

Advance freedom for the benefit
of the American people and the
international community by
helping to build and sustain a more
democratic, secure, and prosperous
world composed of well-governed
states that respond to the needs of
their people, reduce widespread
poverty, and act responsibly within
the international system.

Take note it says, "Advance freedom for the benefit of the American people" FIRST and mentions the international community second.

A U.S. State Dept employee has taken an oath to protect and defend the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and to defend U.S. interests at home and abroad. Nicholas Burns may have violated his oath if he gave favored treatment to foreign based Greek and Cypriot organizations over U.S. citizens. Career diplomats of many countries often face the temptation to do this as a means of getting along better with politicians of their host countries or with colleagues who serve other countries. Mr. Burns has made it eloquently clear where his feeling lie and he was a fool to do so.

By contrast, for a group like the ACCG (which is based in the U.S.) to thank a U.S. Congressman is thanks coming from a constituent group whose members are of the same country. This is normal in the U.S. and is consistent with U.S. Constitutional norms. U.S. Congressman have taken an oath much like the State Dept employees and it is their Constitutional duty, their *JOB*, to represent the citizens of the Congressional District and/or State in which they reside. For example here are the pages used by Barack Obama and John McCain for that function as U.S. Senators. The congressmen from Wisconsin all represent congressional districts that have coin clubs, coin dealers and in 2 of them, coin & stamp publishing & paraphernalia businesses. When those congressmen helped the ACCG, they were serving their constituents and that is their job.

Jim McGarigle
Polymath Numismatics

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