Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 20:41 | SYDNEY
Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 20:41 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Diplomacy


Sam Roggeveen


21 May 2008 10:34

John writes in reponse to my post about a possible revival for the role of diplomacy (my response follows):

Do you perhaps overstate the extent to which diplomacy has been out of fashion?  Diplomacy isn't just the kind of Head of State and Government summitry  that Obama has been talking about. For example hasn't the handling of North Korea's calculated risk-taking been essentially diplomatic? And what I understand to be the back-channel discussions between the United States and Iran? The international response to Robert Mugabe's piracy in Zimbabwe certainly seems to have been entirely at the diplomatic level. I assume even the Australian police and military interventions in the South Pacific (and East Timor) are backed up by diplomatic activity. In terms of diplomatic activity levels, the United Nations still seems to be the scene of lots of action — whether it achieves much is obviously debatable — but it goes on.  Whether President Obama would put significantly more US faith in it seems uncertain.

I probably am guilty of overstating the extent to which diplomacy went out of fashion, though that doesn't completely undermine my case. I was tentatively suggesting the beginnings of an intellectual fashion that might lead to a physical expansion of foreign ministries and growth in the role of diplomacy.

The other distinct possibility is that there is no trend or fashion here at all, but that this is simply the turn my thinking has taken over the last few months, and I am now seeing examples everywhere that confirm my new prejudices. You know how, when you buy a new car, you suddenly start seeing the same model car everywhere on the road? It's kind of like that.