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© 2020 Jeffrey Robertson

Diplomacy - an art, craft, or science?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Is diplomacy an art, a craft or a science? This apparently simple question has attracted different responses since the earliest studies on the practice of diplomacy and continues to elicit debate today. The reason for this is that despite its apparent simplicity, any response to this question holds implicit meanings.

Just think... art implies creativity and style; craft implies apprenticeship, traditions, and guild-like secrets; and science implies objectivity, rationalism and continuous improvement. The designation of diplomacy as an art, craft or science is a fundamental aspect of diplomatic tradition contributing to socio-cultural attitudes, the formation and training of diplomats and ultimately diplomatic style.

There is another option. Perhaps diplomacy is not an art, craft or even science - perhaps it is just a profession. A job like any other. The implications for diplomacy are perhaps more significant. It's a job you do until you find another. It's a job that does not require the creativity of art, the tradition of a craft, or the rationalism of science - perhaps all it needs is the achievement of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), good relations with your supervisor, and an exit plan?

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