Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or nations. In an informal or social sense, diplomacy is the employment of tact to gain strategic advantage, one set of tools being the phrasing of statements in a non-confrontational, or social manner. International treaties are usually negotiated by diplomats prior to endorsement by national politicians.
- Look and see which way the wind blows before you commit yourself.
- Aesop, Aesop's Fables
- DIPLOMACY, n. The patriotic art of lying for one’s country.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1948), p. 72 (originally published in 1906 as The Cynic's Word Book).
- 'You're in America now' I said. 'Our idea of diplomacy is showing up with a gun in one hand and a sandwich in the other and asking which you'd prefer.'
- Mr. Scott: Diplomats. The best diplomat I know is a fully activated phaser bank.
- Star Trek: The Original Series A Taste of Armageddon (1966), teleplay by Gene L. Coon and Robert Hamner
- It would be some time before I fully realized that the United States sees little need for diplomacy; power is enough. Only the weak rely on diplomacy. This is why the weak are so deeply concerned with the democratic principle of the sovereign equality of states, as a means of providing some small measure of equality for that which is not equal in fact. Coming from a developing country, I was trained extensively in international law and diplomacy and mistakenly assumed that the great powers, especially the United States, also trained their representatives in diplomacy and accepted the value of it. But the Roman Empire had no need for diplomacy. Nor does the United States. Diplomacy is perceived by an imperial power as a waste of time and prestige and a sign of weakness.
- Boutros Boutros-Ghali, as quoted in Unvanquished : A U.S. - U.N. Saga (1999), p. 198.
- Diplomacy is to do and say
The nastiest things in the nicest way.
- Isaac Goldberg, The Reflex. October (1927)
- As in a Greek tragedy whose protagonist brings about precisely the fate that he has sought to avoid, the US/NATO confrontation with Russia in Ukraine is achieving just the opposite of America’s aim of preventing China, Russia and their allies from acting independently of U.S. control over their trade and investment policy. Naming China as America’s main long-term adversary, the Biden Administration’s plan was to split Russia away from China and then cripple China’s own military and economic viability. But the effect of American diplomacy has been to drive Russia and China together, joining with Iran, India and other allies. For the first time since the Bandung Conference of Non-Aligned Nations in 1955, a critical mass is able to be mutually self-sufficient to start the process of achieving independence from Dollar Diplomacy.
- The basic U.S. policy has been to threaten to destabilize countries and perhaps bomb them until they agree to adopt neoliberal policies and privatize their public domain. But taking on Russia, China and Iran is a much higher order of magnitude. NATO has disarmed itself of the ability to wage conventional warfare by handing over its supply of weaponry – admittedly largely outdated – to be devoured in Ukraine. In any case, no democracy in today’s world can impose a military draft to wage a conventional land warfare against a significant/major adversary. The protests against the Vietnam War in the late 1960s ended the U.S. military draft, and the only way to really conquer a country is to occupy it in land warfare. This logic also implies that Russia is no more in a position to invade Western Europe than NATO countries are to send conscripts to fight Russia.
That leaves Western democracies with the ability to fight only one kind of war: atomic war – or at least, bombing at a distance, as was done in Afghanistan and the Near East, without requiring Western manpower. This is not diplomacy at all. It is merely acting the role of wrecker. But that is the only tactic that remains available to the United States and NATO Europe. It is strikingly like the dynamic of Greek tragedy, where power leads to hubris that is injurious to others and therefore ultimately anti-social – and self-destructive in the end.
- The Biden administration, expanding upon Trump’s confrontational approach, has Chomsky at a loss for words to describe the danger at hand. Only recently, Biden met with NATO leaders and instructed them to plan on two wars, China and Russia. According to Chomsky: “This is beyond insanity.” Not only that, the group is carrying out provocative acts when diplomacy is really needed..
According to Chomsky, the Doomsday Clock setting at 100 seconds to midnight is based upon: (1) global warming (2) nuclear war and (3) disinformation, or the collapse of any kind of rational discourse. As such, number three makes it impossible to deal with the first two major problems...As a result, Chomsky says: “We’re living in a world of total illusion and fantasy.” Accordingly, “Unless this is dealt with soon, it’ll be impossible to deal with the two major issues within the time span that we have available, which is not very long.”
- Although the expression “citizen diplomacy” was coined in the late 20th century, in fact some 2,200 years before the word existed Guiguzi had already established the fundamental principle that diplomacy and promoting peace between the states is not a profession, but a skill acquired through self-cultivation.
- Massimo Introvigne, "The Chinese Ethos of Citizen Diplomacy, from Guiguzi to Tai Ji Men", Bitter Winter (2022)
- The jury is still out, but what Machiavelli described—either to recommend or subtly denounce it—was a diplomacy without conscience. It may look brilliant, but many who commented on Machiavelli noted that hidden in his works is the idea that a diplomacy totally separated from morality and conscience may achieve results occasionally but in most cases, and in the long run, would not work.
…However we decide to read him, Machiavelli listed as the three features of effective diplomacy caution, art (meaning the mastery of a number of technical tools), and above all patience.
- We are ready to expand the friendly people-to-people exchanges and enhance exchanges and cooperation in science, technology, culture, education, and other areas... Enhanced interactions and cooperation between China and the United States serve the interests of our two peoples and are conducive to world peace and development. We should stay firmly rooted in the present while looking ahead to the future, and view and approach China-U.S. relations from a strategic and long-term perspective... We should, on the basis of the principles set forth in the three Sino-U.S. joint communiqués, respect each other as equals and promote closer exchanges and cooperation. This will enable us to make steady progress in advancing constructive and cooperative China-U.S. relations, and bring more benefits to our two peoples and people of the world... We are ready to work with the U.S. side in a spirit of seeking mutual benefit and win-win outcomes to properly address each other's concerns and facilitate the sound and the steady growth of bilateral economic cooperation and trade. We are ready to expand the friendly people-to-people exchanges and enhance exchanges and cooperation in science, technology, culture, education, and other areas.
- In the ideal American universe, diplomats stayed out of strategy, and military personnel completed their task by the time diplomacy started—a view for which America was to pay dearly in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
- Unfortunately, it’s US Diplomacy|“diplomacy” which brought the US, Russia, Ukraine, and NATO to the current standoff. As the Warsaw Pact disintegrated and the Soviet Union collapsed, US encouragement for those events included pledges that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization wouldn’t take advantage of the situation to expand eastward. Since then, NATO has inexorably pushed in that direction, nearly doubling the number of member states. Thanks, US “diplomacy.”... Things began coming to a head with the US-sponsored coup in Ukraine that replaced its “Russia-friendly” regime with a “US/Europe-friendly” regime in 2014, courtesy of Barack Obama. Thanks, US “diplomacy.”
- Ukraine: US “Diplomacy” is the Problem. Can it Become the Solution? Thomas Knapp, CounterPunch, February 23, 2022
- After weeks of unsuccessfully attempting to either bully Russia’s Vladimir Putin into submission or bait him into war, US president Joe Biden may finally be looking for a face-saving exit from of the Ukraine “crisis” of his own making... Putin finally drew a red line at NATO membership for Ukraine specifically, and against the US definition of “diplomacy” — “do exactly as we demand, without question or objection, and we may consider deigning to allow you to kiss our feet for a little while before kicking you in the face again” — specifically. Bullies really, really, really hate to be told “no,” and tend to go into full bluster and posture mode at the first hint of that happening, which explains the Ukraine “crisis.” Unfortunately for THIS bully, Putin remains seemingly un-frightened. Even as the US and its poodles met in Munich, of all places, to issue more threats, he declined to play the role of Neville Chamberlain. So now Joe says he may be ready to talk. Whether the willingness is real, or just another exercise in fake “diplomacy,” remains to be seen. As does whether Putin will give Biden a graceful/deniable way out of this mess, or insist on rubbing his nose in the thick layer of filth US “diplomacy” has previously deposited on the ground. With two nuclear powers at loggerheads, the stakes are far too high for further attempts to disguise US hubris and megalomania as “diplomacy.”
- Thomas Knapp, Ukraine: US “Diplomacy” is the Problem. Can it Become the Solution? CounterPunch, February 23, 2022
- May the pens of the diplomats not ruin again what the people have attained with such exertions.
- The great realist thinker Hans Morgenthau stated that a fundamental ethical duty of the statesman is the cultivation of empathy: the ability through study to see the world through the eyes of rival state elites.... This kind of empathy has very valuable consequences for foreign policy. It makes for an accurate assessment of another state establishment’s goals based on its own thoughts, rather than a picture of those goals generated by one’s own fears and hopes; above all, it permits one to identify the difference between the vital and secondary interests of a rival country as that country’s rulers see them....
- A vital interest is one on which a state will not compromise unless faced with irresistible military or economic pressure. Otherwise, it will resist to the very limit of its ability, including, if necessary, by war. A statesman who sets out to challenge another state’s vital interests must therefore be sure not only that his or her country possesses this overwhelming power, but that it is prepared actually to use it.
Realists know that understanding what Russia and China will risk and why is critical to our policies going forward.
- A Foreign Secretary—and this applies also to a prospective Foreign Secretary—is always faced with this cruel dilemma. Nothing he can say can do very much good, and almost anything he may say may do a great deal of harm. Anything he says that is not obvious is dangerous; whatever is not trite is risky. He is forever poised between the cliché and the indiscretion.
- Harold Macmillan, secretary of state for foreign affairs, remarks in the House of Commons (July 27, 1955), Parliamentary Debates (Hansard), House of Commons Official Report, vol. 544, col. 1301.
- In international relations, sharing food with people from different cultures to break down barriers is called culinary diplomacy.
- The problems with Russia are not just NATO expansion. There were also a process that began with the second Bush administration of withdrawing from all of the arms control — almost all of the arms control agreements that we had concluded with the Soviet Union, the very agreements that had brought the first Cold War to an end.... In effect, what the United States did after the end of the Cold War was they reversed the diplomacy that we had used to end the Cold War, and started sort of doing anything, everything the opposite way. We started, in effect, trying to control other countries, to bring them into what we called the “new world order,” but it was not very orderly. And we also sort of asserted the right to use military whenever we wished. We bombed Serbia in the ’90s without the approval of the U.N. Later, we invaded Iraq, citing false evidence and without any U.N. approval and against the advice not only of Russia but of Germany and France, our allies. So, the United States — I could name a number of others — itself was not careful in abiding by the international laws that we had supported.
- Long after the damaging excesses of Washington’s hegemonic power —the CIA coups, the torture, the drone killings, and those never-ending wars—fade from memory, the world will still need the more benign dimension of its dominion, particularly the very idea of global governance through international organizations and the rule of law, especially as we face a planet similarly in decline.
- These, then, are the qualities of my ideal diplomatist. Truth, accuracy, calm, patience, good temper, modesty and loyalty. They are also the qualities of an ideal diplomacy. But, the reader may object, you have forgotten intelligence, knowledge, discernment, prudence, hospitality, charm, industry, courage and even tact. I have not forgotten them. I have taken them for granted.
- Sir Harold George Nicolson, Diplomacy (1939), chapter 3, p. 126.
- There are all sorts of things you have to do in foreign policy, to get along in the world. To lessen tensions and prevent war. You have to hold your nose and deal with beasts. But you don’t have to tell outrageous and insulting lies, and you don’t have to break faith...
- Let me also say this: The promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach -- condemnation without discussion -- can carry forward only a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door. In light of the Cultural Revolution's horrors, Nixon's meeting with Mao appeared inexcusable -- and yet it surely helped set China on a path where millions of its citizens have been lifted from poverty and connected to open societies. Pope John Paul's engagement with Poland created space not just for the Catholic Church, but for labor leaders like Lech Walesa. Ronald Reagan's efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe. There's no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.
- As commander-in-chief, I make no apology for keeping this country safe and secure through the hard work of diplomacy over the easy rush to war.
- Barack Obama, Weekly Address: A Comprehensive, Long-Term Deal with Iran, White House Office of the Press Secretary (18 July 2015)
- ...but first there is a certain experience we must be careful to avoid...we must not become misologues, as people become misanthropes. There is no greater evil one can suffer than to hate reasonable discourse. Misology and misanthropy arise in the same way. Misanthropy comes when a man without knowledge or skill has placed great trust in someone and believes him to be altogether truthful, sound and trustworthy; then, a short time afterwards he finds him to be wicked and unreliable, and then this happens in another case; when one has frequently had that experience, especially with those whom one believed to be one's closest friends, then, in the end, after many blows, one comes to hate all men and to believe that no one is sound in any way at all...This is a shameful state of affairs... and obviously due to an attempt to have human relations without any skill in human affairs.
- Plato, Phaedo 89d–e
- I'd like to think the best bunker buster is a diplomat.
- Scott Ritter, in Chris Davis, "Scott Ritter Says Controversial Things About Clinton, Bush, Fox News, the Surge, etc.", Memphis Flyer (May 3, 2008).
- A good many of you are probably acquainted with the old proverb, “Speak softly and carry a big stick — you will go far.” If a man continually blusters, if he lacks civility, a big stick will not save him from trouble, and neither will speaking softly avail, if back of the softness there does not lie strength, power... So it is with the nation. It is both foolish and undignified to indulge in undue self-glorification, and, above all, in loose-tongued denunciation of other peoples. Whenever on any point we come in contact with a foreign power, I hope that we shall always strive to speak courteously and respectfully of that foreign power.
- Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Minnesota State Fair, as it appeared in the Minneapolis Tribune (3 September 1901)
- The world already faces a series of major and destabilizing crises, one of which is the Ukraine crisis. It is the U.S. arrogance that blocked negotiations in 2021 between the United States and Russia that could have avoided the crisis. We need peace and diplomacy, not provocation. I hope that the U.S. government reconsiders its dangerous and misguided foreign policy. I want the U.S. to have a foreign policy based on the UN Charter. I want all of global economic diplomacy to be based on the ideas of sustainable development and the Paris Climate Agreement, that is finding the ways to decent lives for people in all parts of the world...
We need a world of peace, in which war is not used as state policy, and a world in which all countries abide by the UN Charter. We have a lot of things to do on this planet to make our global governance work better, to make the planet safer, to address major ills like pandemics or human-induced climate change. And that can't be done by one side dictating the answers to another.
- Jeffrey Sachs, Interview: U.S. seeking hegemony by dividing world "dangerous" -- world-renowned academic, Xinhua, and jeffsachs.org, August 5, 20022
- Our position is made difficult because of the general impression, held by all Terrans, that an ambassador is a man who lies to you, who knows that he is lying, and who further knows that you know he is lying—and still goes ahead and lies, smiling cheerfully at the same time.
- When you spend money on defense, on military solutions, it's like surgery. It's painful. It's high-risk. Things go wrong. When you spend money on diplomacy, with our wonderful foreign service officers, it's kind of like going to the clinic and using a variety of different drugs and physical therapy. And when you think about development and soft power, it's preventative medicine. It's those things like working out, taking an aspirin. It's low-cost, low pain, and yet it has long-term benefits. So any military person will tell you, use us as a last resort. Use surgery only when you have to. When you can, use preventative medicine - that's development - or diplomacy, but don't reach for that military instrument too soon.... Unequivocally, the most important ships that I deployed to Latin America and the Caribbean were not aircraft carriers, they were hospital ships. They conducted hundreds of thousands of patient treatments all over Central America, the Caribbean, South America.
- James Stavridis (a retired United States Navy admiral) interviewed by NPR: Ex-Military Leaders Bemoan Trump's Proposed Cuts To Diplomacy (12 March 12, 2019)
- ... When I look at what we spend on defense, which is pushing up toward $650 to $700 billion dollars a year, as compared to what we spend on diplomacy and development... a couple of dozen billions of dollars a year, the scale is just enormous.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates famously said, look, we have more people on a single aircraft carrier - and we have 12 of those, David - than we do in the entire foreign service. And another one is former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who said, you can spend a lot more money on the military, but if you're not going to spend it on our diplomats and development, you're just going to have to buy me more ammunition. Those are two voices I would listen to. Let's keep this thing in balance.
- James Stavridis (a retired United States Navy admiral) interviewed by NPR:Ex-Military Leaders Bemoan Trump's Proposed Cuts To Diplomacy (12 March 12, 2019)
- An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.
- Henry Wotton, Written in the album of Christopher Fleckmore (1604).