The Ugly American
The Ugly American The Ugly American demonstrates a kind of ignorance that lingers in the American Ambassadors and the process by which foreign policy is created and implemented. Throughout the novel the characters consistently prove of this theory. One character in specific is that of the Honorable Gilbert MacWhite who is sent to Sarkhan in replacement of the Honorable Louis Sears. His downfall in office was a compilation of things of seemingly his own fault and misjudgment of his own and others.
On the other hand there was, simultaneously, a plethora of success from non-government fficials in state Just adding to the bad image that is created for government officials serving in other countries. MacWhite’s time in office seemed to be beneficial in a number of ways but was Just not enough to grant his wish of remaining the Ambassador there. He wanted to accomplish a lot of things while in office; however some were not entirely practical or beneficial enough.
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It is this constant struggle that can very easily determine the future of Ambassadors.
The first problem of MacWhite’s was a wrongfully accused man named John Clovin who was beaten nearly o death during Sears’ time in the country. MacWhite’s second problem was his misplaced trust in Donald, a house tenant. His third problem was his proposal to the American Aid Mission in Phnom Penh Cambodia to have a chicken expert sent to Sarkhan. A summation of his time in office was a failure on his part even with all of his efforts to improve. Some of his efforts even lead to his downfall and each will be explored equally. Towards the end a summation of his time in Sarkhan is explored.
During a letter from the Secretary of State a number of points are made to cover his ownfall. One point in the letter is that his leave of absence seemed to cause a quite the stir up and his statements as a result of his Journey during this time. The first problem that even put MacWhite in the country was the failure of Sears and his dismissal of Clovin. While serving Sears was presented to face a problem with a private citizen who was beaten to death. Clovin was accused, by local Communists, of molesting some of the local villages’ girls, and this accusation nearly cost him his life.
The problem, however; did not come merely from this; the issue was in Sears’ andling of the situation even after suggestions of taking the attack more seriously. Sears’ typical American personality towards the problem was to brush it off as something insignificant and as not really his problem. The fact is that a private American citizen, in the country of Sarkhan, was trying to help the community by starting a powered milk plant was attacked by those very same citizens based on accusations created by the residing communists.
The spread of lies and deceit that the communists use effect all aspects of government, not Just military tactics. Deong, the friend of Clovin who set him up, had no choice but to become a communist in order to survive within his own nation. As the nation started to become infiltrated by the communists some of the natives were forced into coercion with the now dominant group, which is what Deong did. The scene at the factory is a beautiful reflection upon the struggle between international relations. The country didn’t want to be seen as accepting help from the United States and the communists took steps mistake.
The powdered milk plant would have been a huge success in altering the ountrys economy but Sears had other objectives and dismissed Clovin. After this incident Sears demanded that the Sarkhan government deny Clovin his visa, forcing him to return to the states. Soon thereafter Sears’ was replaced by MacWhite. MacWhite’s second problem, and probably one of the most problematic of the bunch, was placing his trust in a servant. MacWhite was convinced his house servants were trustworthy and loyal to him; another mishap in placement of trust.
The realization came with the discussion MacWhite held with the Honorable Li Pang. In the struggle gainst the rise of Communism within the nation he seeks help from Pang. This is where the problem comes to play. Pang discovers that MacWhite’s servant Donald actually does speak English, and to compound this discovery is his deal with the Communists who are holding his family as captives. Donald was gathering intelligence from MacWhite’s openness of conversations held right in front of him. MacWhite’s problem was his mistrust in the locals and his to lost in the battle against Communism take over.
The Russians, in comparison between ambassadors, go about integrating into a ountry differently. They spend time learning the language and customs, learning how to blend in rather than stand out. They don’t have nightly parties or mix social time with work like the Americans do. The Russians also live like the locals and have their own Russian servants if needed. The entire staff is Russian to avoid anything like MacWhite’s situation from occurring. Another comparison between how other nations form relations to that of Americans. The Russians seem to gain the approval from the locals.
After this discovery of his deceitful servant, who was forced into these ircumstances due to a nation failing to escape the vice grips of the surrounding communist nations, MacWhite asked for a leave of absence which seemed to become his third downfall. While on his leave of absence a snowball effect of negative issues occurs. No one at the time seems to mind him leaving and finding a suitable temporary replacement. A farmer and head of the Midwest Poultry Association came to MacWhite about starting an intervention on the local chicken population.
The current populations of chickens were made to live in deplorable conditions and needed any help possible. The mistake came after the written letter to the American Aid Mission in Phnom Penh in Cambodia asking if they could send over a chicken expert to help Sarkhan. When he is denied the first time he gives up and brushes off the issue. In order to gain the trust and approval of the locals to sway them away from Communism they must be given a reason to trust Americans. By letting this issue slip away MacWhite missed out on an opportunity to help better the nation and prove America’s purpose for being there and intervening in the economy.
Towards the end of his time there are a number of things that occur which ltimately result in is his dismissal from the nation. During his leave of absence his time spent in other nations with the Legionnaires was recounted from a Secret- Executive Session and read aloud during the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, but his remarks were still announced to the Senate by Senator Corona. His actions and “accredited” was part of the blame, especially when the argument was put forth against a Senator who was there and “talked to the natives”.
These blurred lines of foreign policy are generated by the bureaucracy of rich white men who arrogantly eed to remain in control. Not understanding the full story of what happened behind closed doors can lead to misjudgment. Not only did this misjudgment happen for MacWhite but also in the misunderstanding by the Senators and government officials in some of the allegations towards him and his downfall. Many of the successful missions inside the country came from non-Foreign Officers and non-diplomats, but from individuals entering with one purpose and that of the best interest of Sarkhan.
The faultiness in government and popularity contest leads to problems in foreign olicy. The ones who hold the more power end up having the final say. The individual civilian who entered the country had more effect on changing the economy and the opinion of the people then the diplomats had. The locals wanted someone who lived like them and helped them solve their own problems by teaching them how. MacWhite looked like he was going in this direction but after his recommendations to do so he was refuted because it seemed impractical. It wasn’t impractical for the Russians but seemingly for the Americans. The constant battle continues.