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© 2019 Jeffrey Robertson

Diplomacy too important to be left to diplomats?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Two awesome quotes from Cameron Munter's article "Diplomacy Disrupted" in the March/April 2016 issue of Foreign Affairs. Munter discusses David Milne's text Worldmaking: The Art and Science of American Diplomacy. The two quotes below highlight the changes in contemporary diplomacy, which Munter explores:


"In the past, diplomats and intelligence analysts were the most important sources of inside information about business trends abroad or power struggles in foreign governments. But today, organizations such as the strategic consulting firm McKinsey, which boasts over 100 offices all over the world and some 11,000 consultants and researchers who together speak hundreds of languages, are powerhouses of information"


"The French prime minister Georges Clemenceau is said to have claimed that “war is too important to be left to the generals”; diplomacy, in the modern era, seems to have become too important to be left to the diplomats. This need not be a bad thing. Modern challenges such as climate change and migration will take the concerted efforts not just of governments but also of whole societies, and so wider society should be more involved in the diplomatic process. But diplomats will have to adapt to this changing world if they are to succeed".


Munter provides a good discussion of change in diplomacy. But unfortunately the article says little about the continuity that balances every change. Just as the author of the text juxtaposes the art and science of diplomacy, change in diplomacy should always be juxtaposed with continuity in diplomacy. Diplomacy always evolves - but there are also constants, which regardless of the era will always remain. Still... Already ordered it, and can't wait to read it - the sign of a good book review!


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