Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Diplomacy Is Weird

I was reading Maureen Dowd's column this morning in the NYT, and I came across this bit:
On Thursday, Karzai is slated to get a special treat — a long, intimate walk in a Georgetown garden with Hillary Clinton — the one person in the administration who prides herself on getting along with him. Romantic strolls through gardens, the administration has decided, are the best way to move the corrupt coxcomb to its point of view.

I guess I'm used to these anecdotes that make up diplomatic exchanges because of what I study, but really, if you think about it, diplomacy (and diplomatic history) is really, really weird. To be sure, everything has its own culture: investment banking has an investment banking culture and academia has an academic culture and law has a lawyer culture and so on, and each of these cultures have their own vagaries and idiosyncrasies.

But diplomatic culture really takes the cake. I mean where else is a phrase like "full and frank exchange" meant to indicate "I chewed this motherfucker out"? Or what about the fact that even in this day and age, emissaries carry letters from one leader to another, letters that often restate everything they've already said in person, on the phone or through the press? Or that Hillary Clinton will be taking a romantic walk with Hamid Karzai? I mean, all of this is really weird, right?

Think about it this way: if aliens from some other universe came over to Earth, and wanted to know about diplomacy and diplomatic culture, how would you go about explaining it? How would you explain the concept of embassies existing as "foreign" territory in the middle of local markets, or that even in the midst of the most brutal wars, ambassadors are not to be harmed and are entrusted with carrying messages from one country to another? It's just messed up.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

one of those rare silly posts from you. What is all that crap about explaining it to the alien?

Zulfiqar said...

It is a satirical piece of writing and the author didn’t actually succeed in making a point here; democracy in itself is not bad, but those who implement it with a blend of dictatorship are actually bad.

Mansoor said...

Diplomacy has become a vital tool for co-existing with other nations now. A diplomacy based on liberal and dynamic purposes will bear many fruits for any country.

Anonymous said...

#AhsanFail

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Anonymous said...

Is this in any way related to shahid afridis diplomacy?

sai said...

if aliens from some other universe came over to Earth, and wanted to make sense of this blog enrty, how would you go about explaining it? It's just messed up