Diplomatic truth - Coursework Example

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But it is also termed as the art of postponing war when war could be avoided by talks among nations. It is an ancient art dating back to biblical times; in modern times, diplomacy is synonymous as tact…
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& Number: Diplomatic Truth (Political Science) 26 October (word count – 645) Introduction Diplomacy is defined as the art of conducting negotiations between nations. But it is also termed as the art of postponing war when war could be avoided by talks among nations. It is an ancient art dating back to biblical times; in modern times, diplomacy is synonymous as tact that avoids arousing hostilities by carefully assessing cultural and political sensitivities. A good analogy is perhaps horse trading; in a sense, something for something or quid pro quo. A good diplomat is well-versed in the language of ambiguity, saying something for nothing. The job of a diplomat is to deliver a message across without saying it directly; hence, the origin of the term diplomatese or the lingo and jargon of diplomacy. A non-diplomat untrained in an art that hides its message in plain language may have difficulty deciphering its actual message. In todays globalized environment, diplomacy acquires greater significance to impose order and avoid conflicts among various competing national interests along strategic issues like in trade or military considerations or in the scramble for scarce and declining resources.
One baffling question is whether there is such a thing as “diplomatic truth” when the art of diplomacy requires and dictates that diplomats avoid harsh or direct language but still in diplomatic parlance deliver the message as intended that is well understood by the recipients. If we realize that truth can sometimes be a relative concept (true to one person but false to the other person sitting opposite the negotiating table), then diplomatic truth is indeed an idea that can acquire various shades. This can be discerned in the way and what language is used in the art of diplomatic exchanges, ranging from the mild (indirect) to the harsh (direct), in degrees.
Diplomacy is like a room full of mirrors; one has to discern correctly what was being said in order to avoid gross misinterpretations and costly mistakes amid all the double talk. In this regard, it can be said that there is really no real diplomatic truth in the literal sense. Truth is a mirage in diplomatic circles and in high places during policy-making discussions. The use of diplomatic truth, if ever it exists, is to refine the language to deliver several meanings but at the same time, perhaps a strong message. It is contained in the old phrase “suaviter in modo, fortiter in re” or translated roughly as, resolute in execution but gentle in manners. Ambiguity in diplomacy is intentional and forms part of the polite language in the art of statecraft. For art of diplomacy to prevail, language is ambiguous to allow for flexibility in interpretation, a way to save face for participants and yet satisfy everybody all at once (Kurbalija & Slavik 126). In a perverse way, diplomacy becomes effective when it is intentionally ambiguous. Diplomatic truth surely lies between the texts, sort of reading between the lines for the hidden message. A use of direct and blunt language in diplomatic circles would be tantamount to an accusation.
The use of diplomatic truth can ironically be counterproductive because it will give a result contrary to what is desired. Diplomatic language is a part of international protocol and this is what prevents the world from descending into chaos or perhaps delay the inevitable. An articulate and experienced diplomat, is an expert in the art of never giving a direct answer to a question (Callieres 190). Diplomatic truth can be detrimental to the pursuit of peace between nations; once diplomacy becomes direct, it loses its usefulness and sting. Diplomacy is mostly effective when it lurks in the shadows of ambiguity, coupled with utter secrecy in negotiations during crucial phases of sensitive talks. Diplomacy loses its efficacy when seen in the light or its reputation is greatly diminished; this is why the non-paper is often used also (de Soto 1).
Works Cited
Callieres, Francois de. The Art of Diplomacy. Eds. H.M.A. Keens-Soper and Karl W. Schweizer. Lanham, MD, USA: University Press of America, Inc. 1983. Print.
De Soto, Alvaro. “On Language: Diplomatese.” The New York Times. 10 Sept. 1989. Web. 25 Oct. 2011. Kurbalija, Jovan and Hannah Slavik. Language and Diplomacy. Malta: Diplo-Projects, 2001. Print. Read More
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