The other key part of Emma’s book is examining the utility of a civilian advisor to a military commander. Whilst valuable, it appears that Emma’s language and cultural skills were secondary to two other personal qualities that made her invaluable.
Firstly was her indifference to military authority and whilst this is obvious in her relationship with “General O”, it is not just the the result of that relationship because she displays that same attitude to others who she knows less well, ie Petraeus and her first commander in the north. However it takes a particular type of commander to allow that behaviour, indeed even elicit that insubordinate advice in Odierno’s case and also the right type of ‘out of the box’ thinking civilian to repeatedly dish out unwelcome advice. Many civilians can become enamoured with being a military embed and such Stockholm syndrome can cause then to self-censor what might have been valuable external inputs.
Secondly was her ability to get outside the wire and build real relationships with various Iraqis and relay those perspectives back to the command team. This was in complete disregard for the security instructions in place to supposedly guide her behaviour although with her local knowledge I can also imagine that her personal threat/benefit analysis may have been more accurate. Despite being able to do this to a certain extent she herself acknowledges that she was at times restricted in such access and as such was unfamiliar or out of touch when reacquainted with life outside the Green Zone.
In both areas one wonders if an American POLAD or a career diplomat from DoS or the FCO would have taken such physical and career threatening risks.