Thursday, September 27, 2007


Council of Foreign Relations Panel

We sat at a round table with a mike and a legal pad for each of us. All of us were seated at the (well, oval) table except one person who was taking notes on the conversation by the door and scurrying out when motioned to in the event of a microphone malfunction. This person was also the only person in the room who was not introduced. On the panel were a big booming voiced guy, a snarky funny political scientist, and a diplomat who said the high point of his career came during the 2005 tsunami. It was because he sent an armada in whose purpose was not to kill anybody, but still…

He mentioned during Q&A that Kim Jong-il’s sons might not carry the nation given how young they are—he said: “twentysomethings, so still a little naïve…”
I raised my hand and said, “First of all, could we meet the person taking notes by the door?” The person, a young man, jumped and looked quite startled. “I’m _____’s assistant,” he said quietly. “What’s your name?” I asked. He said it was Joseph. I said it was nice to meet him, then addressed the diplomat. “I can’t help but notice that you characterized twentysomethings as naïve,”I said. “Given that you’re talking to a roomful of Luce Scholars, and Luce Scholars are required to be between twenty-one and twenty-nine years of age, what would your advice be to a group of naïve people about to go to Asia?”
His answer was to observe a lot, or something along those lines.

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