[subtle differences]

Topic: The Mission

Elections were held yesterday for non-permanent seats on the Security Council for the 2006-2007 term, and today I was charged with drafting letters of congratulation from our ambassador to the ambassadors of the winning states. Because Security Council seats are alloted by region, the real horse-trading goes on within each regional group to decide which country will be put forward as the candidate, while the final election in the General Assembly is mostly a formality.

That meant that the Republic of Korea was for the most part able to support all of the winners. But there was one country that Korea voted against, having made a prior commitment to a rival. This didn’t make any actual difference — the vote wasn’t at all close — but it nevertheless created a certain tension when our Mission called to congratulate their Mission, or so I was told.

And so I made a slight adjustment in the congratulatory letter. Instead of saying “I look forward to continuing our work together, thus deepening our friendship and our cooperative relationship,” as I had in the other letters, I changed it to “I look forward to continuing our work together in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.” It’s a small difference, and one that sent the diplomat who’d asked for the letters back into my office asking why I’d made the distinction. I explained that the former implied that everything is friendly and cooperative already, while the latter leaves room for the notion that the relationship may be rocky at the moment while promising that it will improve.

This is the sort of thing I do for a living.