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Smart Diplomacy
Why Political Ambassadors Aren’t All Bad
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  • johngbarker

    I was interested to learn that Matthew Barzun is the grandson of the historian, Jacques Barzun, whose marvelous books are a bit hard to get in decent condition. I hope that Ambassador Barzun will do something about this. I believe Barzun is as important a thinker in the American tradition as William James, who was also deeply grounded in European thought and culture.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Glad to hear some complimentary words for the professional diplomats who advise political ambassadors on how to avoid broken china and how to build good will on policy when social doors are open. We recently had some comments here at TAI suggesting that the State Department isn’t worth much and that most of our diplomacy is really conducted by the Department of Defense.

    • Corlyss

      What I said was people misunderstand the role of State and think it sets foreign policy when all it does is play at the margins. If cocktail parties and smooze-fests are not the margins, I don’t understand what is involved in partying. I get it that there’s a place for that, and, depending on the situation, it could be an important place. But I see nothing in the article that would refute or even challenge my comments about State, esp. the ones having to do with the primacy of DoD.

  • Corlyss

    “Part of what good diplomats do is to counter the propaganda.”

    One of the worst failures of post-Cold War diplomacy was the elimination of public diplomacy that used to be a hallmark of our “outreach” to other nationalities and cultures. I listen to a lot of old time radio, much of it tied in in one way or another to either AFRS or to public diplomacy, praising what’s good and great about American society and promoting pride in America. We never should have stopped that, and we need to get it back on track.

  • Tom Servo

    I remember a story of a British Ambassador appointed to Cyprus in the late 19th century, a man with purely political connections and no international expertise whatsoever. When he got there, he was greeted with the complaint that he didn’t even speak Turkish or Greek, the two main languages on the island. And he simply replied “Well, I will hear far less lies that way.”

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