Diplomacy is defined as the art of communication between different parties. In international relations, diplomacy is the art of conducting negotiations, forming alliances, discussing treaties and reaching agreements. The shape of the international
landscape today was carved by diplomatic dialogue, as diplomacy is what creates world order. It is a platform that brings world leaders together in an attempt to agree on mutual interests or solve international crises. Every international treaty, every Security Council or General Assembly resolution, every world summit, and the United Nations Charter itself, all have this binding concept in common : the upholding and application of diplomacy.
Diplomacy has been practised since the first city states were formed around 5th B.C. Traditional diplomats were only sent for specific regulations, and would return immediately after their missions concluded. Diplomats were usually relatives of the ruling family or of very high rank in order to give them legitimacy when they sought to negotiate with the other state. Envoys eventually became negotiators rather than being just messengers. During the Middle Ages (6-18 century), the scope of diplomacy saw little growth and diplomats were mostly confined to maintaining archives rather than negotiating them. After the American and French Revolutions, diplomacy became more democratic and less aristocratic. The Congress of Vienna (1815) laid down procedures for diplomatic immunities and defined diplomatic hierarchies. Traditional diplomacy could not avoid the 2 World Wars and was mostly confined as an activity of the states. High politics issues like military and territories formed the core during Pre-World War-II period.
After the II World War, the international system came to be a totally different system from the classical international system. The classical international system was Euro-Centric and it worked on the principles of balance of power, war as a means, secret diplomacy as an instrument, and narrow nationalism as its objective. Post World War II, the world came to be practically divided into 2 big power Blocs : the communist Bloc (led by Soviet Union) and the Free World Bloc or the Democratic Bloc (led by United States). Most of the countries in the world aligned themselves to either of the Blocs. The World War II was the longest and most expensive war in terms of money and manpower. After the war, the world as a whole was tired of the process of militarization. Therefore, there was a shift where countries wanted peace and co-existence coupled with scientific development and economic development. After the end of the World War II, ideologies began playing a huge role. The world was like 2 Blocs, though ideology was the garb in which the division took place. In the name of communism or democracy, these Big Blocs began moving the countries of the world under their tutelage; so a different type of ball game emerged. The relationship between these two Blocs was not smooth so it led to a situation of Cold War Politics. The cold war period was not a tension-free one as there were a lot of strains and stresses, but there was no active war. By and large, the politics in this period was Euro-Centric; as to which Bloc the European countries sided with. The end of the World War II saw the emergence of the United Nations, as the League of Nations was not successful in averting another war. The UN followed the Peace-keeping Diplomacy distributing free food, humanitarian aid and economic aid to weaker countries. Simultaneously, there were other factors which emerged and began to take centre stage. One of the important developments was the nationalistic movements in Asia, Africa and some parts of Latin America. The colonial empire was dwindling and the colonial people were fighting for their liberation, as a result of which there was emergence of a new nation states and a huge sense of nationality. A large number of countries became independent and new nation states like Pakistan emerged. The newly independent nations were referred to as the third world countries. These countries neither belonged to the American World nor to the Soviet Union. They did not follow the ideologies of any Bloc, but took from them whatever suited them. Most of them emerged as non-aligned countries or neutral countries, preserving with themselves the right to decide their issues and their foreign policy. As young, small and economically backward nations these countries aimed to pursue objectives like peaceful co-existence, economic development and social development of the population.
At the same time, there were certain new actors which emerged. China had a strong revolutionary movement in 1949 and became a Communist country. The presence of China (with the largest population resource) added a lot to the Communist Bloc of Soviet Union. There were a few wars and skirmishes (example : the division of Korea into North and South, the war in Vietnam). This period was relatively peaceful. The politics was no longer Euro-Centric, it was moving towards the East. The emergence of a Communist China had its implications on Asian politics. Europe became quiet (having faced the brunt of a war). US was emerging as a centre of economic power and tried to help out Europe in the process of its recovery. Plans such as the Marshall Plan were heavily funded by the US in order to help the countries of Western Europe. The Eastern Europe side was taken care of financially by the Soviet Union.
The mindset of the world as a whole shifted from a militaristic philosophy to one which promotes economic recovery. There were unions coming up in various parts of the world like Africa, Latin America and South East Asia (ex. ASEAN) with an objective of providing economic support to the member nations. Associations like SAARC came up in South Asia to look into the common problems of the region and find out collective solutions. The fear of war still haunted the minds of countries which led to the formation of NATO to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.
It is safe to conclude that the world scenario in 1960’s was very different from the one in 1945. The fear of a IIIrd World War haunted world leaders and the countries understood that if there is another war, no part of the world would survive because of the advent of nuclear arms. Countries like France, Britain, China, India etc. began acquiring arms. Any war in present day would not be limited to a conventional war; it would flare up to a nuclear war which is likely to destroy major parts of the world. The presence of countries with nuclear arms is a danger, but it is also a saviour as each country is aware not to provoke any other country. The leaders of the European countries realised that economic dependence on the US and the Soviet Union brought along political strings and foreign policy conditioning. The countries sought to achieve financial independence from outside. The result was a European Union : where countries had a common coinage, no visa formalities. The countries maintained their individuality, but gave up on a lot of issues to support each other. The EU became like a loose confederation and this led to emergence of a new Democratic Bloc.
The World Map saw a lot of changes due to various factors like liberalization and advent of Information Technology. The 20th century Euro-Centric Policy was now transformed to the ‘Go East Policy’. One of the reasons was the emergence of China as a strong economic super-power. The US began to look at Central Asia differently. Oil diplo-macy emerged. Negotiation of vital resources in order to fuel development became integral part of foreign relations. Various changes were seen due to the emergence of terrorism and religious fundamentalism. After the 9/11 attacks on US, the country followed what was called the counter-terrorism diplomacy. The Bush administration openly and clearly declared a war against terrorism. There was a tremendous enhancement in technological development which led to newer problems like cyber crime and issues pertaining to cyber security. There was a global movement of people looking for work and better resources. Newer forms of diplomacy emerged like cultural diplomacy : where the instrument of culture was used to create a peaceful world; there were many Indian fairs and festivals celebrated in countries like Britain, France etc.; Sports Diplomacy : where sports was seen as a unifying medium specially between countries like India and Pakistan.
The world transformed to a multipolar, decentralized and fluid world with uncertainities. Diplomacy was no longer limited to hard power issues (targeted, immediate, coercive and physical activities like military) but also began to include soft power issues (indirect, persuasive, long term like environmental issues and immigration). The world remains a dynamic place and diplomatic relations keep changing with the nature of changes that take place in the world.
Created at: May 29, 2019
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