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Diploduction: An Introduction to Diplomacy

The force and negotiation combine into a fundamental and key element of human interaction to accomplish goals of the involved parties in a scenario of disagreement, at which point the presence of peace is replaced by war—both temporary situations in the natural order of human life, and observable between other species in nature. In the essay, “Christianity, Diplomacy and War”, Sir Herbert Butterfield stated that diplomacy is a form of commerce between human beings, in that it functions in cases where wills are in conflict and power is involved— cases where, if there were no such method of negotiation, the parties concerned would be making a direct appeal to force.

Although there are states with less military power than the likes of current titans: United States, China, and Russia, they are still within capability and even possession of leverage in diplomatic negotiations due to their inconvenience to foes of past and future, and usefulness to prospective allies, including the opposition to the states reluctant to include the less militarily powerful state. Butterfield wrote, “In the Bismarckian era, for example, Germany and Austria- Hungary were aware that they could expect little from Italy in time of war, but they sought the alliance. They were liable to be disproportionately weakened if Italy, by taking the other side, exposed them to even a relatively slight stab in the back.” (Butterfield)

Italy’s power in this situation was gauged not by its own military strength but its convenience to potential foes of Germany and Austria-Hungary. This allowed for Italy to slightly piggyback on the power of the two stronger nations, ensuring its safety in a time of war. That isn’t to state that Italy is completely weak and incapable of defending itself, yet diplomacy is a matter which everyone must participate in, from individuals of nations to states if they want to win or survive in endeavors and life, alike. Italy could’ve bluffed, and diplomatic bluffs can be made but those bluffs can always be tested, being met with force initiated by the recipient of the bluff. “A diplomat who told lies would appear to have been a marked man in certain periods of the nineteenth century.” (Butterfield)

Regarding the topic of diplomatic power, Sir Herbert Butterfield wrote, “If one of the contestants becomes into a fortune or is nominated for the President of USA; He acquires at this point what we call a ‘pull in negotiation’, and the introduction of power as a factor in the problem changes the character of the entire transaction. Henceforward, it is a different game that is being played— diplomacy.” (Butterfield)

Just as a ‘pull in negotiation’ is crucial in person-to-person negotiation, it is so in the dealings between states—more so between the representatives of said states. For example, an alliance or friendship between two states can play a crucial role in the conflict avoidance which would otherwise result in an exchange of force evoked by one militarily stronger nation in terms of preparation, attempting to revoke ownership one’s ownership of the topic of dispute, whether it be the land or resources of who they deem to be a weaker nation, on their own volition. However, if that nation would otherwise be victimized is allied with a credible state, reputed in the matter of forceful conflict (a form of power), then the application of force would likely not occur at all.

Butterfield provides a noteworthy example in the essay, ‘Christianity, Diplomacy and War’, of which is key to diplomacy, “Alternatively, the course of diplomacy may be complicated by the fact that subtle substitutes or oblique equivalents for force can be brought into play, such arguments of convenience appeal to past friendship, or attempts to flatter an individual statesman.”

Although one objective of diplomacy is negotiation and force are for the sake of peace; Pacifism is an ideology which is unwise for any state to embrace. As a nation without a military, it has no force and therefor no leverage, nor any choice when presented with force in the art of diplomacy to assure peace to its own citizens. A nation ought to be able to defend its land and citizens—when provoked, a nation must be able to show its fangs to deter threats of force, demonstrate the power of them, and be able to fight fire with fire if the imposing nation proceeds after warning. Therefore, it would behoove all nations to obtain armament. Charles Davenant introduced the concept of “The Balance of Power” in diplomacy, which is a prime example, and complementary concept to Herbert Butterfield’s use of diplomacy’s duality —the use of power with negotiation to mitigate the chances of war. “England’s rise to world empire entailed constantly shifting alliances and treaties, combined with flexible forms of selective continental intervention designed to check the attempted French hegemony and thereby sustain an ‘equilibrium’ of competing political forces: the so-called ‘balance of power’, which diplomats view Europe as a distinctive configuration of alignments based purely on states interest that could be measured, regulated, and trans-mutated into a balance which functioned with a mathematical precision analogous to the Newtonian Solar System.” (Schweizer)

Within the balance of power which functions analogous to the Newtonian Solar System comes activity, which is based on the activity of statesmen, done in a fiduciary capacity on behalf of their nation for the benefit of peace, or war with the intended result of peace. However, the power and negotiation entailed in diplomacy have causes and effects which are dynamic and keep the balance of power in a never-ending cycle which has inevitably been cause to the effort of use of military force by at least one state against another. “Shifts in power concentration over time tend to create conditions conducive to war.” (Schweizer, International Systems) In diplomacy’s dynamic balance of power amongst nations, technological advancement is a prime example and cause of nations rising and falling in ranks amongst one another, due to the key role innovations in weaponry lead to changes in the norms of military conflict. For example, it led to revolutionary warfare between 1300 and 1600 by way of weapons such as the pike—a long spear used in combat for dislodging armored knights from horses, and the longbow— capable of firing ten arrows per minute at up to 300 yards of distance. “The advent of these weapons leads to small contingents of longbowmen and pikesmen defeating larger contingents of heavily armored cavalry. Thus, heavy cavalry became even heavier, capable only of the direct charge. Infantry, or foot soldiers, when formed into phalanxes, could easily break such charges and dislodge knights from their horses. On the ground knights weighted down by their armor could be easily overwhelmed by infantrymen. Consequently, armies increasingly became composed of infantry units armed with longbows and pikes.” (Opello, Roscow) The results of a nation’s performance in combat are noted by enemies, allies, and neutral states alike; It all affects the nation’s credibility—granting leverage in negotiations and causing the opposing party to take their ability of force and influence into consideration.

A reputation of past military action can play a major role in diplomatic efforts of avoiding war— much like deterrence between military superpowers like United States and Russia. Dr. Karl Schweizer, much like his mentor Sir Herbert Butterfield, believed power to be the universal arbiter. Power comes in many forms yet in terms of diplomacy, the ability to negotiate without using force is ideal. Force and negotiation have a duality in which neither is greater than the other, like yin & yang, and even analogous to the metaphorical complementarity popularly known as “Mother Nature” and “Father Time”. Without the ability to negotiate there is unnecessary force used which occurs the absence of peace, due to the inability to bargain for or even persuade peace. In such a situation the only viable option for peace without casualty is submission to the nation of greater power.

Diplomacy consists of both intellectual and socially demanding profession with consequences of an exchange of force for both parties involved for what matter couldn’t be compromised over or negotiated to a bilaterally agreeable conclusion. “Diplomacy works for the consensus through use of both verbal and nonverbal devices, including bargaining, compromising, coercion, and force or the threat of force.” (Schweizer)

Other than pure military strength, statesmen utilize the art of diplomacy in networking with their ilk in other nations. As Butterfield has mentioned regarding diplomats appeals to friendship and flattery of statesmen from other countries; Schweizer mentioned the existence of ‘espirit de corps’ amongst diplomats which allows for socialization, exchange of ideas, policy formulation, and the like even though their respective countries may be in conflict. Also, friendships between statesmen can lead to crisis diffusion before conflict gets too serious or even expediting the peacemaking process between their nations. (Schweizer)

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Butterfield, Herbert. Christianity, Diplomacy and War. Wyvern Books, 1962. British Foreign Policy, 1689-1790 | Karl Schweizer - Gale. https://www.gale.com/intl/essays/karl- schweizer-british-foreign-policy-1689-1790-origins-aims-dynamics.
Opello, Walter C., and Stephen J. Rosow. “Chapter 3 - The Medieval State: Territorial Sovereignty Instituted.” The Nation-State and Global Order: A Historical Introduction to Contemporary Politics, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, CO, 2004.
Schweizer, Karl. "International Systems." International Relations, New Jersey Institute of Technology. 9/27/22.
Schweizer, Karl W., and Paul Sharp. “16 - The Historic 'States Systems'.” The International Thought of Herbert Butterfield, Palgrave, Basingstoke England}, 2007.
Schweizer, Karl. "Diplomacy." International Relations, New Jersey Institute of Technology.