A. Principles of Diplomacy - Question 1
Traditional diplomacy grew out of the need for states to communicate. The diplomat’s role was to convey messages, learn about local customs, negotiate disputes and make contracts on behalf of the states they represented. Their presence in these foreign states allowed them to learn about their history and culture, and to establish a rapport not just with the heads of these states, but also with their policy makers and people.
The formalities of this practice - establishing an ambassador, an embassy and various consular and administrative arms of that government - grew out of a world in which travel and communications were limited and circumscribed by distance, cost and time. Hence an envoy would become what Chas Freeman calls the "visible eyes, ears and hands" of his state. His presence in that foreign state often became the sole means by which his home state could learn about the political and social climate of the foreign state. The envoy would do so by a process of interaction, observation and analysis and send reports back to his home state.
Technological changes that have allowed the increase of high-level visits, telephone conversations, e-mail exchanges, the free flow of money, CNN, and other technological advances seem to have threatened the raison d’etre of an envoy’s existence. These changes raise the question of whether a state enabled by the telephone, television and the internet has any need for these visible eyes and ears.
For example, the speed of travel has meant that conventional diplomatic channels are bypassed when a high-level official with a busy schedule can visit a lot of countries while still handling his other duties, as demonstrated by Secretary of State James Baker when he gathered the multilateral response to back the US’s military action against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait instead of just leaving the coordination of such an effort to the ambassadors of the respective states. When President Clinton devotes several days to a summit meeting he is accompanied not only by an entourage of aides but an arsenal of telecommunications equipment which allows him to keep in touch with what goes on at home.
The globalization effect, which came about from the ease with which vast sums of money and information can be transferred electronically can also be perceived to threaten traditional diplomacy. Markets are now open to the free flow of capital, and banks and multi-national corporations - not just other states - choose to deal directly with the decision-makers of these countries with economies that need their capital. For example the local governments in south China have a certain degree of autonomy to allow make such arrangements directly with investors. The companies in a position to bring in large amounts of capital and investment to such economies are in a good bargaining position to negotiate the lowering of trade barriers and tax incentives.
Finally, the impact of news networks like CNN have also cut into traditional diplomatic turf. With live news reports that take major world events instantly into every living room, these news networks have the power to influence public opinion which in turn sets the tone and agenda for any particular foreign policy issue, instead of leaving it to be set by foreign policy experts.
These developments have fundamentally changed the complex network of relationships between states, their governments, and their electorates. It would seem that traditional diplomacy no longer has a place in this network. But in fact these changes make the traditional skills of observation, analysis and an empathetic understanding of an expert all the more important.
Traditional diplomacy produces the kind of experts that are needed to make sense of what is going on in an increasingly complex world. The speed of information flow has led to a deluge of complex and contradictory information which would be impossible for top-level policy makers to be able to analyze and assess on short notice. News reporting, for example, focuses on the new and the sensational, and may bypass what seems old or dull but is important. To make sense of the volume of information that comes through the internet or television, policy makers all the more need their diplomatic experts to help them sift through the wheat for chaff.
Unfortunately the immediacy and intrusiveness of television reporting and the speed of internet information transfer also leads to a demand for an equal immediacy in the response. No longer can a huge body of top government and private individuals gather to discuss policy secretly, taking their time to consider all the issues, as was done during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The President may have only hours, not days, to give his response to a declaration of war by a rogue state or a terrorist act.
To do so in such a short time without blunders he still has need of diplomats who can understand and assess the severity of a crisis, and suggest solutions with the least disastrous consequences. A good ambassador and his staff should also have developed personal ties with the other state which would allow direct communication and feedback on what the situation on the ground is like. Sometimes, a good relationship with another state can bridge what normally would be perceived as a threat or affront.
A high level envoy would not necessarily undercut the authority of the sitting ambassador, especially if special circumstances call for one. To marshall the collective agreement of many states quickly sometimes takes a high level official like Secretary of State Baker, especially when taking an unprecedented step to form a coalition to use force on Saddam Hussein. A special envoy’s appointment, like Dick Holbrook’s to negotiate a ceasefire in Bosnia, is needed to send a signal to the states concerned the importance that his state accords the matter and this may motivate the parties to come to an accord. Or it may also be a signal to the public that something (at last) is being done. An ambassador himself may have asked for a special envoy and his embassy would support the visit with feedback and background information.
But when such an envoy works solo such as Henry Kissinger did when he conducted his secret talks with the North Vietnamese his mission to obtain a negotiated settlement may seriously undermined by his refusal to co-opt the services of the State Department and its Vietnam experts. The talks almost failed, and a settlement was secured only at the cost of many lives.
Large banks and corporations may have the financial clout to bargain for trade concessions or entry into markets but there is still a need for diplomats as foreign policy issues are no longer limited to a single issue. With China for example, when issues of trade and finance are linked with human rights, it may be beyond the capacity or the inclination of these groups to gain concessions on one issue in exchange for a compromise on another. Also foreign policy is crafted out of a plethora of conflicting interests and needs and it would not be in any state’s best interests to leave that in the hands of corporations and non-state actors pursuing their disparate interests.
Finally, technological advances can also be used to enhance the information gathering role of a diplomat. The ease of communication also makes it easier for diplomats to convey and receive information and make contact. The internet is useful to diplomatic operations because of the availability of information, the speed at which information can transmit and the ease with which negotiations can be conducted online.
So far from removing the need for traditional diplomacy, technology and the changes that flow from it in fact call for an even greater degree of the human touch required in the successful management of foreign policy. The diplomat’s presence in these foreign states ensures that an expert is recording details of their history and culture. His or her presence lessens the likelihood of a bad judgment resulting from a misperception culled from television or the internet.
B. Diplomacy for the Post-Cold War Era - Question 1
The Cold War had created a bipolar world in which the democratic US was pitted against the communist USSR. Cold War foreign policy focused on the containment of one powerful state on the basis that its ideology threatened US security and its democratic way of life.
After the Soviet Union fell, the world changed from a bipolar to multi-polar one. New states emerged, and other non-state groups, such as ethnic groups like the Muslims, and non-government organizations lobbying for human rights and the environment, also began to have a voice in the international community. The relative simplicity of the bipolar world with democracy vs communism gave way to an international landscape filled with new states, many of which are in conflict, struggling and unstable.
In fact, ethnic conflict is increasing, not decreasing, according to the report on preventing daily conflict by the Carnegie Commission. One prominent example of this is in the Balkans, whose states have long had a history of conflict. Ethnic tensions previously suppressed by an authoritarian regime broke into conflict when the Soviet Union lost its hold on these states. Yugoslavia’s break up was a prime case of this, with the loosening hold releasing a resurgence of nationalism leading to an ugly conflict of ethnic groups pitted against each other.
Instability also comes in another form when former communist states move towards open market economies. It creates a rich-poor divide that widens as workers formerly employed by state-owned corporations are laid off in an attempt to make them more efficient. Nor can these states reform as quickly and easily as assumed, as in the case of Hungary, which despite being relatively more democratic than some former communist states, has an economy that is still dominated by the state and corporations that were formerly state-owned because its citizens lack the capital to invest in the former state owned enterprises.
Another by-product of the Soviet disintegration is that its military technology is up for sale, so that now smaller states without the technological base can own nuclear weapons. The tensions between Indian and Pakistan became a worldwide concern when both achieved nuclear capability. Rogue states like Iraq which possess nuclear weapons also have greater power to terrorize its neighbors. An added concern is Russia’s ailing economy could affect its control of its existing nuclear warheads, more of which could fall into the hands of extremist groups.
The growth of the internet and computer technology has allowed the globalization of economies. But as this ease of communication had allowed the Asian economies to grow, the recent crisis also showed how stability was threatened when capital flowed out of its economies as easily as it flowed in. This same connectivity has also meant that the recession which originated in Asia is spreading to the US.
This technology has also empowered non-government organizations (NGOs) giving them the means to mobilize international support using an inexpensive means of communication. The impetus to ban the use of land mines came from a non-government group working its campaign through email.
Indeed, in a world less threatened by communism than economic, social and political issues, states will have to rethink their priorities, and implement strategies that put these latter issues on at least equal priority with security issues. This change in emphasis focus has allowed issues previously considered marginal to emerge, increasing the importance of the role of the NGOs. Environment NGOs have made it necessary to bring issues of conservation and deforestation to the discussion table with countries like Indonesia, which are dependent on their logging industry. Groups like Greenpeace gained ground by pressuring countries to stop dumping nuclear waste with a post cold war world less sympathetic to the necessity of nuclear programs.
The same technology that has helped NGOs has also benefited terrorists who can also operate international networks cheaply and efficiently. At this same time the world has seen a rise in extremist groups such as those who have bombed the US embassy in Nigeria. They can learn how to build bombs from the internet. The development of biological weapons has also empowered these groups, being easy to transport, widely destructive and difficult to detect. The Aum Shinrikyo cult demonstrated how it could wreak havoc when it released deadly Sarin gas in Tokyo’s trains.
The suddenness of the end of the cold war has left a gap in the foreign policy for dealing with the changes. The US is left without a foe so it is hesitant about taking unilateral action to protect its own security or political interests. While Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was sufficiently outrageous to motivate the international community to follow the US’s lead in using military force against Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War, Iraq continues to be a thorn in the US’s side over military inspections, with every threat of military action to compel compliance costing the US a billion dollars.
In any case the US experience with the Vietnam War has also left it reluctant to commit its own troops to distant conflicts. The US faces increasing conflicts with its self appointed role as democracy’s watchdog and domestic pressures to stay out of conflict, especially during times of economic recession. Sanctions, though popular as a non-military punitive measure, have proved to have a deleterious effect on the Iraqi civilian population and arguably done more harm than good in winning sympathy for these states than in deterring them from their practices.
However, neither Europe nor the international institutions are not prepared or organized to fall into the breach. This led to a protracted Bosnian War, with the US, no longer defending its territories against a communist menace, reluctant to move unilaterally and unable to get a mandate from the international community to move multilaterally.
The post Cold War world has also seen the rise in number of refugees. Failed states in Africa, such as Ethiopia, Somalia and Rwanda, and the break up of Yugoslavia have caused the rise from just two million in the 1950s and 60s to 25 million in recent years. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is not only limited in its capacity to deal with such numbers, it also lacks the jurisdiction to help them if they are merely "displaced persons" and do not cross international borders - a serious problem as many recent migrations have been the result of civil wars, with migrations within states.
Instead the international community should commit itself to establishing a peacekeeping force. The success of the Gulf War and the effective use of force in calling a cease fire in the Bosnian conflict provide the models for a UN rapid reaction force to deal quickly and decisively against rogue states and provide a sufficient and effective threat against dictators like Slobodan Milosevic (check spelling).
The troops should be operationally ready to be mobilized quickly at short notice to fire-fight conflicts as they erupt. Rules or a code to justify and regulate such "interference" with a sovereign state should be drawn, to allow a mechanism where the international community may act without have to reinvent the wheel every time a crisis occurs. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees should also be empowered and have more capacity to deal with refugees and displaced persons.
To achieve these objectives the international community must be prepared to pay the cost by pumping more money into these institutions. As a leader among these nations, the US must also honor its commitment to the UN and pay its arrears in dues. Otherwise it will lack the authority to demand multilateral action and reform. What is needed is a "Marshall Plan 2000", which will help integrate ailing giants like China and Russia, as well as smaller less developed countries into the international community. Membership to international organizations such as NATO, WTO and the UN should be used as incentives for authoritarian states to modify their regimes. Giving them a stake in the international community will help put them on the road to democracy.
Dealing with terrorism will require building up civilian quick reaction forces to deal with threats and ensure public safety. The local police, fire brigade and other emergency services can be coordinated to counter terrorist attacks, which are usually made on civilian populations.
A multipolar world demands multilateral solutions to its problems. Only when the countries are organized to work together to quash foes, build up economies and deal with crisis can the world prosper peacefully.
C. Diplomacy and Democracies - Question 1
Current US policy has been an uneven mixture of both elements of pragmatism and moralism. As a natural result of a policy forged by consensus, consultation and competing interests, this is not necessarily a failing. Ultimately, good policy making must have elements of both pragmatism and moralism, or it is bound to fail.
To some degree elements of pragmatism and moralism are present in all the various foreign policies adopted. A policy of giving aid to Russia to help it out of its economic woes has its moral element but also has the pragmatic consideration of needing to reintegrate a defeated foe to avoid future conflict. Putting a plan together to bail out ailing Asian economies also helps US banks and businesses in the long run. But what is lacking is the conscious recognition at the start of making a policy that both pragmatic and moral elements are both integral elements making that policy work.
In October 1993, the murder of 18 US rangers in Somalia led to the widespread conclusion that what started out as a humanitarian effort of famine relief should not have been turned into nation building, Yet, if it had been recognized that a moral act of humanity had political consequences, a pragmatic acceptance of that fact may have helped the Somalians more by not pulling out US troops and securing a political settlement, instead of making a hasty exit.
The failure in Somalia was a signal to US policy makers to restrict humanitarian efforts elsewhere. The US’s decision not to respond to the genocide in Rwanda that began in April 1994 was due in part to the Somalia debacle and its reluctance to "crossing the Mogadishu line". It also affected the US decision not to get involved in the Bosnian war by backing the UN peacekeeping operations with force.
Bosnia was an example of how a pragmatic decision to stay out of the conflict there allowed an escalation of the conflict and the atrocities there. This instance of a pragmatic decision to stay out of conflict - unfortunately based on poor analysis of the Somalia incident - was wrong because it did not take into account that getting involved was simply the right thing to do. The policy failed because it gave an appearance of the US indecisiveness and indifference and in any case, also left the US with some of the blame for the lives lost and people made refugees. As the world’s most powerful democracy the US is put into an indefensible position when it ignores certain moral imperatives - such as not doing anything when authoritarian regimes commit genocide and begin the process of ethnic cleansing.
One defence that US policy makers resorted to was that the American public would not want to engage in war and lose American lives. They assumed that the American public would object to being engaged in the Bosnian conflict and yet a poll conducted by Steven Kull contradicted this perception. He found that Americans were not squeamish about getting into the war as supposed, nor were they opposed to paying the cost, but the many policy makers suffered the misperception that this was the case.
The case of Iraq provides another instance of how recognizing that pragmatism must be combined with moralism at the outset is necessary for successful policy. Sanctions were imposed on Iraq to ensure compliance with UN resolutions calling for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction. But it has not stopped Iraq from being recalcitrant about allowing UN weapons inspectors in, even only recently, and it had given in on each occasion with compromises only with the threat of US force. Yet the sanctions remained, causing economic hardship for its population. Here a pragmatic act of choosing a least-cost option without considering the moral side - whether it would cause suffering - has had the policy backfire by winning sympathy for this impoverished state. In a case with an individual like Saddam Hussein, sanctions will not work as he does not run a democracy. He rules even if his people starve and do not like it. They will not compel him to back down, only force will. And in case such as these, the US and the international community have to overcome their moral resistance to using force for the long term good of the Iraqi people and for the future stability of the Gulf states.
When dealing with the Asian financial crisis pragmatic considerations of needing to stabilize and reform markets should be balanced with social conditions. The US should be aware that imposing economic reforms in return for rescue loans can cause hardships for peoples of already bankrupt states like Indonesia. Austerities cannot be further imposed on people who already do not have enough to feed themselves. Imposing policies without consideration for the domestic conditions will lead to social unrest. This would defeat the aims of restoring economic stability and growth, and the US in the long run would lose out on the potential of these markets, which were till recently huge markets for US capital.
The current policy towards China also demonstrates how a policy based on moralism eventually has to give way to some pragmatism. The televised events at Tiananmen Square in 1989 prompted a public outrage which brought human rights issues to the forefront when diplomatic relations were resumed few years later. So it was understandable when the US attempted first link human rights issues with trade issues. However this had to be reversed under pressure from American business and financial interests. When dealing with the vast potential of China, moral considerations should not be ignored, but should neither dominate the dialogue between the states. A long term view that there was to be more gains to be had with the communist power overcame the objections that China had yet to improve its human rights record with regard to political dissidents.
While this policy appears not to have secured any concrete gains in terms of treaties or substantive promises to make reforms, it is arguably the more productive way to deal with and engage a power that has views so divergent from that of the US. It keeps a dialogue open and allows differences to be resolved without resorting to threats or war.
It is clear that there is a complex mix of the moral and the pragmatic in US foreign policy. But lessons of recent events show that if policy makers recognized at the outset they had to satisfy both moral and pragmatic elements in the issues before them instead of reacting to the events as they occurred the policy would have a better chance of being more effective.
If the US wants to maintain its role as a leader, it is not enough to be the most powerful country in the world. Choosing convenient options or inaction demonstrates an avoidance of the leadership role when the going gets tough. Having the economic and military strength to influence and dominate will only induce resentment and resistance if the US does not have the implicit mandate to have a leadership role. Earning it entails making correct policy with a better knowledge of local conditions. It is also about being practical. And finally it is also about making policy that is also "doing the right thing".