Featured Article: Defining Diplomacy

Featured article:

Defining Diplomacy
by Edward Marks

Most countries provide professional education for their diplomats and some operate establishments specifically for that purpose. Few of us would claim that the U.S. government and the Department of State provides equivalent experience with any degree of seriousness or comprehensiveness. Our Foreign Service Institute, for all its virtues and fond memories, is essentially a training, not an educational, institution. However there are signs of growing interest in diplomatic education, expressed for example in an American Foreign Service Association paper recently submitted to the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review drafting team. If pursued we may yet see a serious program of professional education put in place for America’s professional diplomats.

To do so, however, will require us to get some agreement on terms and definition. There is much confusion in the popular as well as professional minds about the subject of diplomacy. It has been famously noted that English is a tricky language, requiring a good deal of care to ensure that what is said is what is meant. Even at the level of single words, confusion can occur as words often have multiple meanings. One good example is the word “diplomacy” which, in addition to its formal reference to a specialized activity of governments, has entered into common parlance to denote personal qualities involving pleasing manners.

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IAJ 7-1 (Spring 2016) PDF
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Ambassador (Ret.) Edward Marks served as a Foreign Service Officer for 39 years with the State Department. Marks has written extensively on terrorism and interagency coordination, and coauthored U.S. Government Counterterrorism: A Guide to Who Does What. He holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan, an M.A. from the University of Oklahoma, and is a graduate of the National War College.

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