British Diplomacy and the Descent into Chaos: The Career of by John Fisher (auth.)

By John Fisher (auth.)

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Extra info for British Diplomacy and the Descent into Chaos: The Career of Jack Garnett, 1902–19

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Indeed, these were the two key political issues during Garnett’s posting there. Growing international involvement in various aspects of government and commerce in the Ottoman Empire brought added significance to British diplomacy in Constantinople. With some issues, especially those such as the Berlin–Baghdad Railway, which had a significant multilateral aspect, the initiative tended to lie with the Foreign Office in London. On lesser issues, however, the British Ambassador was expected to act with a degree of autonomy.

On lesser issues, however, the British Ambassador was expected to act with a degree of autonomy. After all, during Garnett’s posting the diplomatic bag took 3 or 4 days to reach London, and it was periodically delayed and interrupted by disorder in Macedonia. The Ambassador also had to employ some delicacy, mindful of the possibility that a rebuff from the Sultan, or his chief adviser the Grand Vizier or his ministers might facilitate the efforts of a rival power. 13 As evidence accrued of the further decay and maladministration in the Ottoman Empire, Britain’s ambassador, Sir Nicholas O’Conor (1898–1908), had a difficult line to tread.

14 With responsibility for obtaining intelligence also, his was a key role. 15 On a practical level, Garnett’s work in Chancery as an unpaid attaché, until April 1904, consisted in the main of transcribing telegrams destined for London. 16 However, this was a necessary apprenticeship and one which was intended to work to the advantage of both parties. For the attaché or third secretary, such as Garnett, it was an opportunity to reflect upon the wisdom of his career choice and to gain knowledge of a very wide range of topics, procedures and protocols with which the embassy routinely dealt.

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