art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states
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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.

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
An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country. ~ Henry Wotton
All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means. ~ Zhou Enlai
The best bunker buster is a diplomat. ~ Scott Ritter

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  • Look and see which way the wind blows before you commit yourself.


  • 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.


  • 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.
  • Diplomacy is to do and say
    The nastiest things in the nicest way.




  • 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.



  • 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.


  • While in Britain’s imperial heyday, elite circles communicated with each other via telegraph, newspaper, and radio, America has freed the flow of information for uncounted billions through television, the Internet, and cell phones—making grassroots activism a global reality and citizen diplomacy a major force in a changing world... Although overshadowed in recent years by its endless counter-terror operations and its devastatingly destructive wars across the Greater Middle East and Africa, the United States has nonetheless had a profound...impact upon the world... 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. The loss of all of that would be a loss indeed.
  • 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.
  • 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.



  • 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... 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, which is in 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.



  • 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).


  • All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.
    • Zhou Enlai, Saturday Evening Post (27 March 1954); this is a play upon the famous maxim of Clausewitz: "War is the continuation of politics by other means".

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