Dear JF

Dear J.F.:

I’m really getting frustrated by the constant nit-picking and whining about my undemocratic regime by the United States. Every time I go to an international meeting not only do I have to worry about my security forces staging a coup d’etat while I’m out of the country, I also have to fret about whether the Americans are going to try and block me from attending or whisper nasty things about my wife’s spending habits to the other delegates. Doesn’t seem to make much difference who is in power in the U.S., either. It’s not like it’s a big deal, ok, I mean, they’re not going to really put any pressure on me or anything, but it’s annoying. How can I get them to shut up and stop bugging me?

Yours,
President-for-Life

Dear President-for-Life:

Take heart! If the United States is persistently bugging you about your undemocratic ways, it actually means that you don’t matter at all to the United States. If you had any significance to them at all, they’d be much more reserved about criticizing you in public, and in private, they’d probably give you helpful tips on how run a secret police force and filter the Internet. (Though honestly, I recommend you get some advice from China, they’re really much better at it these days. It’s another of those Sputnik-style races.) So one way to get rid of those pesky complaints is to contact the State Department about being a client regime. But the fact that you’re not already probably means your country is in a useless place, lacks resources, or is otherwise unimportant. Here’s what I’d suggest: you probably already have your trusted advisors giving you a delusional vision of the world that conforms to your egotistical whimsy. Just ask them to not tell you about any remarks made by the Americans, to give you edited versions of the news, remove CNN from your cable channels and replace it with another porn channel, and always have your vice-president or minister of internal affairs meet with the U.S. ambassador.

Dear J.F.:

Why can’t we get the United States to back our democratic uprising against our long-time autocratic ruler? They were really enthusiastic about a similar uprising in a nearby country and passed on whatever resources they could to the protesters.

Yours,
The guy with a slight head wound down by the tank in the upper northwest corner of the crowd.

Dear Head Wound:

Since you appear to be in one of those countries that actually matter to the United States, I’m guessing that you’re not ready for democracy. The people in the country nearby are ready for democracy, probably because their government both matters to but doesn’t listen at all to the United States. Please go home and wait until your government says that you’re properly ready for democracy or until your government stops mattering to the United States.

Dear J.F.:

I was wondering if you have any advice on how to make myself over as a national leader. I’m being pushed for a promotion before I’m really ready, most of my experience to date has been arranging for the torture of people my boss brings to me. I think I’m pretty good at being a faceless bureaucrat and I’ve been working hard at developing my power-behind-the-throne skills. But my boss is pretty desperate, it looks like there’s going to be an unexpected vacancy, and I don’t want to miss my chance.

Yours,
Secret Minister

Dear Secret:

If you haven’t already read it, I recommend a little book by Machiavelli called The Prince. It sounds to me like you’ve got the “feared” part of your job down pretty well, now you need to work on the loved part. A couple of little techniques: 1) Bite the hand that feeds you (though check with your boss before you do). Your staff and subordinates will trust you more if it looks like you’re willing to talk back to the boss on their behalf. In your case you want to be sure that it looks like your boss’s BFF over near your country doesn’t like you. I know you’ve had a good working relationship with the BFF but I’m sure they’ll understand if you pretend otherwise for a while. 2) Get a better wardrobe, look the part. The pinstripes look good on you but they just remind people of the faceless bureaucrat/torturer thing. Go military for now, people love a man in a uniform. 3) Splash some cash around the office, get your boss to give you a slush fund for gifts, make sure to remember the guys down in the mail room and the custodial staff, you can work on breaking up any strikes or labor organizing later on after everybody’s calmed down a bit. 4) Bash the guy you’re replacing some, set up a complaints box, maybe a grievance committee or something that will deliver some recommendations. Got to seem like you’re listening. 5) Make sure your boss is willing to give you a golden parachute agreement in case things don’t work out. If your situation is unsettled enough, the boss may have to make another move later on, and you don’t want to end up the scapegoat.

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4 Responses to Dear JF

  1. Western Dave says:

    Okay, I give up. Who is J. F.?

  2. Timothy Burke says:
  3. Western Dave says:

    It’s the obvious ones that get you. I just assumed it was an Africanist reference and went digging through colonial history trying to figure out who it was. Silly, silly Cold War Americanist me fails to even think about his own field. Doof.

  4. Western Dave says:

    Plus I didn’t recognize him without a pencil in his ear.

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