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Since Diplomacy is an Art, Aim at Being an Artist

The one thing or perhaps the only one right thing that Adolf Hitler ever said was that “when diplomacy ends, war begins”. When we look back in time, what was the one reason that caused the failure of the League of Nations? What was the impetus that made the Earth witness the Second World War? Why did Japan’s history and geography both change within the blink of an eye? These are just a few questions to which there are numerous logical and rational analyses but no discrete explanations. Why haven’t we ever questioned the lack of values that laid the foundation of these infamous instances? Or should I say the lack of only one- the deprival of diplomacy .

Diplomacy (noun) is literally defined as the profession, activity, or skill of managing international relations, typically by a country’s representatives abroad, or the art of dealing with people in a sensitive and tactful way [1] . What sort of “professionalism”, “management”, or “sensitivity” does the happening of the above events show? How is it even rational to consider any of this “skillful”? What international relations are we talking of when all that we have been doing is running after each other’s neck to satisfy our thirst for power? And most importantly, is there any way another (often anticipated by various political “predictors”) World War can be prevented?

A narcissistic human being is like a “hawk roosting” [2] , he thinks that he is supreme; the Earth is at his foot and everything else including the rising Sun that starts the day comes after him. And all these seem familiar and very identical to an eminent individual who played a very important role in making Germany infamous: the most undiplomatic one ever, Adolf Hitler. Obligatory to the popular belief, the Nazi leader did everything but practice what he preached. But what gave him the power to do it? What made him believe in his superiority? How could he even think that what he was doing was “sensible” in any language? Well, the only answer that I can think of is lack of authority. There was nothing that stopped him from doing what he wanted, and even if there was anyone, the implication of propaganda never really let them stop him. And ultimately, the result of the War was the imposition of a harsh peace treaty on Germany, the death of the ‘hawk’ and of course immeasurable damage.

Peacekeeping is a diplomatic art
Conflict is what has made room for the existence of every treaty, every law and every international organization, be it for the purpose to prevent it or propagate it. One such organization is the United Nations (UN) but what makes countries adhere to the regulations laid down by the UN? The simple fact that their compliance to the UN’s various policies keeps them from being another ‘hawk’. This organization prevents them from breaching their foreign policy and stops them from squandering their power. And since we always need proof to validate the competency of anything, the first UN peacekeeping mission that was established in 1948 when the Security Council authorized the deployment of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in the Middle East to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors clearly shows how crucial “management” becomes in such situations [3]. Therefore, UN peacekeeping has evolved to meet the demands of different conflicts and a changing political landscape. Born at the time when Cold War rivalries frequently paralyzed the Security Council, UN peacekeeping goals were primarily limited to maintaining ceasefires and stabilizing situations on the ground, so that efforts could be made at the political level to resolve the conflict by peaceful means. It expanded in the 1990s, as the end of the Cold War created new opportunities to end civil wars through negotiated peace settlements. Many conflicts ended, either through direct UN mediation or through the efforts of others acting with UN support. Today’s conflicts are less numerous but deeply rooted. For example, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur and South Sudan today, are in a second or third wave of conflict. And many are complicated by regional dimensions that are the key to their solution [3].

The nature of conflict has also changed over the years. UN peacekeeping, originally developed as a means of resolving inter-State conflict, has been increasingly used over time to curtail intra-State conflicts and civil wars. Although the military remains the backbone of most peacekeeping operations, today’s peacekeepers perform a variety of complex tasks, from helping to build sustainable institutions of governance, through human rights monitoring and security sector reform, to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, and demining [3].

The study of the different aspects of management in business clearly shows that a manager is only as good as the team is at following his/her instructions, and the UN’s skills authenticate the same.

Skillfully suspended
Hasn’t combating terrorism been the one aspect where most countries have seemed to reach a common consensus? Even though absolute elimination of terrorism still seems like a living daydream, would it not be right to say that the cooperation between different countries has definitely resulted in the skillful suspension of various terrorists notably Osama Bin Laden. But again, what is the point in getting rid of something/someone temporarily? Would it not make more sense to have complete removal of these anti-peace troops instead? Well, this story goes far beyond what it looks like.

In any event, many terrorist activities that have occurred during the post-1945 era have not been associated with self-determination debates at all. Identified causes of terrorism have instead ranged through the entire spectrum of human discontent, including the economic, political, social, psychological, ideological, etc., with short or long-term goals, both objective and subjective, becoming the object of violence (Whittaker, 2001, p. 33). In response, some in the international community, especially academics, have sought to label terrorist groups according to their motivational goals or ideologies rather than in terms of criminal acts, as is the approach within the United Nations system. Consequently, students may come across the categorization of such groups within scholarship as “revolutionary”, “separatist”, “ethnocentric”, “nationalist” or “religious” [4].

Of particular interest is the fact that such issues and debates have shaped the approach of the international community to its universal anti-terrorism conventions so that are framed around terrorist acts as serious international crimes regardless of any underlying motivation. Broadly speaking, anti-terrorism instruments were adopted roughly in three phases. Beginning with legislation covering the safety of aviation and shipping, the early instruments were developed from the 1960s through to the early 1990s, and addressed specific types of terrorist offences. Notably, acts perpetrated during “liberation conflicts” were expressly made exceptions to terrorist crimes, for example, the 1979 Hostages Convention Treaty Series, vol. 1316, p. 205, adopted 17 December 1979, entered into force 3 June 1983, as such acts were to be dealt with under other areas of international law, such as international humanitarian law. The most recent phase reflects the broadening, post-categorization of terrorist groups and “causes”, to include groups such as the Taliban, Al-Qaida and ISIL, and thus reflect the contemporary terrorist threat to the international community. Within this latter phase, anti-terrorism instruments have been developed that deal with new crimes associated with terrorist bombings (1997, Treaty Series, vol. 2149, p. 256), the financing of terrorism (1999, Treaty Series, vol. 2178, p. 197) and nuclear terrorism (2005, Treaty Series, vol. 2445, p. 89) [4]. Therefore, doesn’t this validate that no matter how hard we try, combating terrorism is a slow process; it cannot be achieved in one day. The UN in cooperation with other countries is gradually proceeding towards eliminating it, but as for the present situation, it can only be suspended.

Chanakya once wisely said that “There is some self interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship without self interests. This is a bitter truth.”, and well diplomacy is a living proof of the same. And don’t you think that this is one major reason why the UN has actually been successful in preventing another battle? Somewhere it is also the personal interests of these nations which has kept them from becoming a narcissistic hawk. Benefitting from equally efficient ones and trying to have control over the lesser ones often draws another outline of this whole phenomenon. And after all this analysis, do we still know who is a diplomat? A diplomat is the one who will show you a path and convince you to walk on it even without having to tell you directly to do it.

The primary foundation of international relations and foreign relations, like I mentioned earlier, is diplomacy; and the only way to keep surviving is to keep continuing it because once it stops, everything will near an end. Because even though Rome wasn’t built in a day, it can definitely be destroyed in a day.

By Aashi Agarwal

[2] Reference to the poem Hawk Roosting by Ted Hughes:
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