The Art of Diplomacy
Author: Joseph M. Siracusa
Publisher: Oxford University Press
“Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.”
― Winston S. Churchill
Although the words of Winston Churchill are still applicable to the concept of diplomacy, we clearly witness an extension of the concept and probably a much more complicated landscape of diplomacy nowadays.
The book of Joseph M. Siracusa – Diplomacy. A very short introduction serves exactly the purpose stated in its title. It gives a good overview of how diplomacy played a role in shaping the most important events in our history.
The author uses five case studies from 1770 to 2010 and brings to life the concept of diplomacy making sure he emphasizes the ways in which the diplomatic world evolved and changed throughout time. From the era of the American Revolution to the age of globalization, diplomacy has a powerful impact in key moments and takes on a huge responsibility for human lives and states. Sometimes, despite their best efforts, diplomats didn’t manage to avoid costly wars and painful outcomes. Henry Kissinger used to say: “Since nothing about the First World War had gone as planned, it was inevitable that the quest of peace proved as futile as the expectations with which nations had launched themselves into the catastrophe… of the Second World War”.
History tells us that the work of diplomats has long lasting consequences. This is confirmed by the case study Joseph Siracusa includes in the book – the treaty of Versailles at the end of the First World War, that tragically laid the groundwork for the next, more horrible world war.
It is clear that diplomacy evolved and continues to evolve. If we look only to a few definitions of the concept, we can get a pretty good understanding of the fact that diplomacy covers so many elements and aspects that shaped the world we live in: „diplomacy is the management of relations between independent states by the process of negotiations” (Harold Nicolson); “diplomacy is the art of saying nice “doggie” until you can find a rock” (Wynn Catlin) and so on.
One chapter of the book may be of special interest for the Romanian readers – “The night Stalin and Churchill divided Europe”, as a fascinating episode that punctuated the diplomacy of the Second World War. Churchill told Stalin during their meeting in Tehran in 1943: “Let us settle about our affairs in the Balkans. We have interest, missions and agents there. Don’t let us get at cross-purposes in small ways. So far as Britain and Russia are concerned, how would it do for you to have ninety-percent dominance in Romania, for us to have ninety-percent of the say in Greece, and go fifty-fifty about Yugoslavia ?” The rest is just… painful History.