James Eayrs on Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and International Relations: A Retrospective
Copeland, Daryl, International Journal
A certain prestige and mystique once attended the art and science of diplomacy. Some of it even spilled over onto its practitioners. Lately, however, this perception has all but disappeared, and in its place is near universal scorn, rebuke and ridicule. Once revered, the profession now finds itself in large part reviled. Much was made of Prime Minister Trudeau's oft-quoted quip that he could get all of the information he needed about the world from the New York Times. Well in advance of that episode, however, James Eayrs, in his columns in the Toronto Star, on CBC radio, and in a series of books and lectures, was lambasting diplomats and diplomacy as relics from another age. Over the years, he has been joined by some very good company.
In trying to situate Eayrs's remarks, it is important to appreciate the historical context. Eayrs was deeply opposed to the war in Vietnam, which was at its height at the time he wrote most of the passages quoted here. He was furious over what might now be referred to as the collateral damage associated with imperial overstretch, and the dangers of blowback from that war onto the broader prospects for détente and world peace in the era of mutually assured destruction. He applauded Daniel Ellesberg's decision to go public with the Pentagon papers and was appalled at the revelations of Canadian duplicity while serving as a member of the various international control commissions. He denounced Canadian corporate complicity in war profiteering.
More particularly, Eayrs was disturbed by what he considered to be the callous treatment he received at the hands of representatives of the then-Department of External Affairs in response to his requests for research access to the department's historical record. In his own words, he felt "badly treated by authority." But his analysis of the shortcomings of the department and its staff-not to mention of the wider world beyond-transcend any of that.
My goal in this essay is to try to abstract from Eayrs' writing on diplomacy something of an integrated critique, with a focus on the Canadian experience, and to assess those observations against my own as developed over the past 25 years in the foreign service.'
The following seven sections sketch several of the central themes preoccupying analysts of international relations in the early 2ist century. To get at some of the key elements, we will excerpt snippets of the relevant commentary offered by Eayrs and follow up by considering, albeit selectively, aspects of the contemporary discourse. Readers are invited to draw their own parallels and to reach their own conclusions regarding the prescience of Eayrs's remarks.
Power consists in having things your way. To have things your own way, it sometimes helps to be strong. But it doesn't always help. There are other ways of having your way besides pushing people around. Friendly persuasion, for example....A mighty state may hesitate to use its might. Whereas a state deficient in all of the usual components of strength may sometimes get its own way, often in the face of greatly superior force. Power and force, so far from being directly correlated, may even be inversely correlated. It may so happen that to add to your force will diminish your power.... The paradox of power operates to the advantage of small states, as it does to the disadvantage of the great.
Much of the discussion in the study of international relations inevitably turns on a consideration of the exercise of power, its nature and uses, and, especially, on its possibilities and constraints. In recent years, Harvard's Joseph Nye has made a huge impression in both academic and official circles with his promotion of the concept and doctrine of soft power.2 The successful use of soft power amounts to making others want what you want through attraction rather than coercion.
The existence-or not-of soft power is based largely on perception, on the appeal of image and reputation, on the availability of appropriate tools, and on the engineering of a positive predisposition developed over time as a result of demonstrated performance. Hard power resources-armed force, aid spending, vigorous diplomatic representation-do not necessarily translate into influence. Indeed, the decline of America's soft power, and the rise of China's, have lately become defining features of the international landscape.1
In both cases, size matters, but size alone has proven far from definitive in terms of producing political or diplomatic results in the contemporary setting.
[The] fact of modern international life accounting for the impotence of force and the weakness of great powers is...the heightened constraint of opinion and the nature of the only kind of war the great powers are free to fight. This is not big war, thermonuclear war. It is little war, guerrilla war. And for great powers no experience is more frustrating. It frustrates not least because the targets are so few, and so fleeting... the enemy always knows more about what's going on. After all, it's his country.... There's always an intelligence gap in these conflicts...the great power is invariably disadvantaged.
With the end of the Cold War and the winding down of the great military confrontation in central Europe, it is now widely believed that largescale conventional wars are unlikely to recur. Small-scale, irregular wars, such as those being waged in Afghanistan and Iraq, and asymmetrical wars, such as the global war on terror, have pitted regular militaries against an unconventional opposition. Vulnerability has become mutual. This is the new mainstream of global conflict, one that has given rise to new approaches to conflict and its management, such as the "three block war," the 30 approach to international intervention, and the "revolution in military affairs."4 This revolution has engendered and prompted several observations: The technologically strong cannot necessarily or always defeat the militarily weak, especially if the latter have the support of the local population. Insurgent forces can inflict (politically) significant casualties against a much better-armed opposition (vulnerability has become mutual). When organized militaries, regardless of their notional capacities, pursue irregular militants, victory can by no means be assured and blowback is likely. And tactical, real time intelligence plus precision munitions cannot replace boots on the ground; victory in conventional war is still costly.
The US Department of Defense has just come out with a new counterinsurgency strategy that takes account of several of these points, most of which could easily have been made in 1969.5
ON FOREIGN POLICY
The government's statement..is by no means a discreditable document, especially if one makes the sort of allowance Dr. Johnson did for the lady parson, judging not the tedium of her sermons but in admiring wonder that a being so handicapped could preach at all... It is true that here and there the prose simply collapses under the weight of its argument, like a soufflé left too long in the oven...The cover of the White paper catches and holds its spirit perfectly...well-dressed, well-fed, well-mannered, attentive on-lookers at some outdoor entertainment. That is how the planners of our foreign policy see our place among the peoples-curious yet distant spectators...in the world yet not quite of it, caring little about its suffering, sharing nothing of its squalor, a temperate zone of affluence amidst the wretched of the earth....White papers are really devices for concealment, and what they conceal is change...6
Foreign policy, as I see it, represents the international expression, on the part of those representing states, of the constantly shifting balance between values, or that which is seen as important (such as human rights, social justice, or democratic development), and interests, or that which is sought (such as prosperity, through trade and investment; security, through counter-terrorism or peacekeeping; the rule of law, through the promotion of good governance and treaties). The two are often closely related: the way in which interests are pursued often reflect values, for instance in a preference for negotiations over conflict. Similarly, the extent to which values are considered in decision-making often reflects interests, such as in the complex trade-offs between international environmental standards/stewardship and resource development/use, or commercial relations and human rights.
Because of the dynamic balance between values and interests in a constantly changing world, foreign policy is notoriously difficult to codify. Nonetheless, from time to time foreign policy is reviewed by governments, often under the guise of the release of green (discussion) or white (policy) papers. The most recent Canadian example was the international policy statement released in April 2005. In the case of the 1970 "Foreign policy for Canadians" document that gave rise to Eayrs's observations above, three years of work had produced an elegantly written, elaborately constructed product in five full-colour volumes, translated into all of the official languages of the United Nations and distributed worldwide. It extolled the virtues of a seamless whole-of-government approach to advancing our place in the world. Shortly after its release, it was overtaken by a change in government and, while not formally withdrawn, official reference to it has ceased and it has been banished from the front pages of the DFAIT web site.
ON THE FOREIGN MINISTRY
A diplomat surplus now afflicts most countries, including our own... there are too many missions. The chanceries are overcrowded. Too many people push too many pens across too many pieces of paper, filling them with worthless messages...Canada is wildly over-represented overseas in relation to her needs... Recent tribulations of the diplomatic profession...are useful reminders that missions these days are not so much mile-stones as millstones, hostages rather than status symbols...A radical re-organization of the Department...could do much to improve the machinery of our diplomacy and the quality of our foreign policy. Most of its postings are expendable. Many of its officials are unnecessary. The name is External, not Eternal...
In the shape of things to come, the fate of the classical foreign office is pre-ordained. Its future is limited, its days are numbered. Only the grace with which it leaves the scene is in doubt. It may fold its tent and silently steal away; or else, and more likely - since no bureaucracy gives up without a fight - it will unwillingly be reduced to an anachronism, whose sole surviving functions are ceremonial...7
Foreign ministries, and their networks of missions abroad, represent the policy and administrative apparatus through which national governments seek to stay in step with, if not slightly ahead of, an ever-changing world. It is therefore not surprising that such organizations struggle constantly to keep pace, particularly during epochal shifts such as the transition from the Cold War to the globalization eras.8
Reflecting, perhaps, an internal reaction to the great swirl outside, the culture of foreign ministries is typically cautious, conservative, and deferential. Some would argue that this is necessary, even desirable. In any case, hierarchic structures and top-down social relations are defining characteristics. Dissent is generally discouraged, while unquestioning loyalty and faithful service are rewarded. Blessing the received wisdom and running with the herd, often under the guise of team playing, can be the keys to advancement. More than a few successful careers have been made by specializing in making the boss look good.
Compounding the pressures of having to cope with an international operating environment in ceaseless evolution, foreign ministries must also manage developments in domestic politics and public administration. Over the past 25 years, these have included the integration of elements of the then-Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce, as well as the overseas positions of the Canadian International Development Agency, into the Department of External Affairs in the first half of the 19805; the ill-fated corporate review of the early 19905 and the devastating cuts imposed later in that decade;9 and, most recently, the decisions, in 2003 and 2005, first to create a separate trade ministry and then to reintegrate the two departments just after the separation had been completed.
It would be impossible to overstate the anxiety, dislocation, administrative overheads, and inefficiencies generated by these sorts of exercises, or the costs in terms of productivity and morale. That is not, however, to suggest that efforts to perfect the operations of the bureaucratic machinery at HQ or the nature of representation abroad can or should be set aside. Indeed, these continue unabated.10
There are three causes of intelligence failure. The first is the alleged unpredictability of certain kinds of phenomena, certain types of situation, which alter the course of history... disasters, malfunctions, misfortunes cannot individually be brought to the attention of the policy-maker in advance of their occurrence. Trends, tendencies and dispositions may be. If the statesman is unaware of trends, of tendencies, of disposition, it is not because these lie beyond the zone of awareness. But it may be because of stupidity-other peoples', or his own, or both. Here is the second cause of intelligence failure. People make mistakes, even those who should know better...service to the state may constitute a handicap in the acquisition of relevant knowledge.
There are certain occupational hazards involved in the craft of intelligence. These constitute together the third cause of intelligence failure. None of these occupational hazards is more conducive to disaster than wishful thinking. To think wishfully means, in the context of intelligence, hearing what one wants to hear, seeing what one wants to see, believing what one would like to be true. Wishful thinking is not the same as stupid acting, although it often leads to stupid acts.
While I have not heard anyone suggest that the terms "diplomatic intelligence" or "foreign intelligence" are as oxymoronic as is often said of the military equivalent, it remains true that diplomacy is not generally associated with intelligence gathering or assessment. In fact, just as people working in the field of development assistance often have an aversion to people in uniform, diplomats do not typically think highly of the intelligence function. That, I think, must change.
Intelligence, a frequently misunderstood term, is simply information whose value is based on its accuracy, timeliness, and relevance in relation to the objectives and priorities of the information consumer. While it may be generated through covert or secret means (espionage), it has been my experience that the most worthwhile and accurate assessments are based on a careful reading of open, unclassified sources." In that respect-and resulting from its extensive network of missions and representatives abroad and superb system of secure desktop communications-DFAIT is well-positioned to increase its contribution to the collective intelligence effort. Indeed, with the declining importance of formal, state-to-state relations in the overall mix, diplomacy is increasingly about establishing networks of contacts for the express purpose of collecting strategic information-which is to say, intelligence.'2 This will be increasingly so as we move towards a model of more public diplomacy (as elaborated below) that features lobbying, advocacy, and, especially, dialogue-the source of what is referred to in the trade as human intelligence.
Several recent publications on Canadian foreign policy have made reference to the record numbers of Canadians travelling and working abroad and have encouraged the government to consider such people, as well as foreign nationals with significant ties to Canada, as a diplomatic resource that might be harnessed to a much greater and more systematic extent than is the case at present." This idea was brusquely dismissed by some of the more crusty old-schoolers as tantamount to a proposal to turn Canadian missions abroad into drop-in centres for backpackers.
But let's pause on that for just a moment. In certain places-south and southeast Asia come immediately to mind-I can think of no better or more cost-effective way to leverage our information sources and expand our networks. There are many countries in which Canadians-from world travellers, to entrepreneurs and business people, to CESO (Canadian Executive Service Overseas) volunteers-are visiting places where they may hear and see things that would not otherwise come to the attention of officials. In these settings, why not open internet cafés hosted by the friendly junior political officer who could sensitively chat up a selection of guests in a directed way? Creating a social space that would serve the same function for travelling Canadians as was once provided by American Express mail-drops makes good sense to me.
One central, unresolved, and perhaps intractable problem, however, is the frequent clash between intelligence and policy. Policies tend to develop a certain momentum, or inertia, which may be based on fact, faith, career interests, or will. Sometimes intelligence will support policy. Sometimes it will be distorted and made to support a preordained conclusion.14 In other cases, the intelligence may simply be wrong.15 However, it is the instances in which intelligence subverts existing policy and augurs in favour of a change in direction that may cause sparks to fly.16
ON PUBLIC DIPLOMACY
Only when public opinion matters to the policy makers does the correspondent begin to matter to the diplomat. He matters because it is by what he writes that public opinion is informed and influenced, for better or for worse. In the beginning, the diplomat thought it for the worse....It's not just that their jobs seemed more competitive than complementary, the correspondent prospering at the diplomat's expense. It's that their professional styles differ so, their life styles differ so. In temperament, in attitude, in outlook, in ethos, the correspondent and the diplomat are at opposite extremes, inhabit different worlds....(Still), with the end of the war, the management of news was here to stay. Henceforth the diplomat would meet the correspondent on the correspondent's own ground, using the tricks of the correspondent's trade, even hiring correspondents to do his-on the theory that it takes one to know one.... Trying to make lapdogs out of watch dogs can be a risky business...but when it works it works wonders.
Globalization has been characterized by a revolution in information and communications technology and profusion in the number and types of international agents, including NGOs, business, individuals, violent nonstate actors, and a relative decline in the role of states. The locus of political activity has migrated elsewhere-up, to supranational bodies; out, to transnational actors; and down, to other levels of government. All of this has made life more difficult for diplomats. Much as with the case with foreign ministries, the diplomatic profession-by examining how best to deliver effective representation abroad, by reconstructing the business model, and by rethinking the skill set and personal attributes most suitable for new diplomatic recruits-is grappling to determine how best to respond.
In these areas, progress has been real. The corrosive image of idle legions of pearl-bedecked, pin-striped envoys extraordinary and plenipotentiary, sipping their way obliviously into irrelevance is, thankfully, passing now into the dustbin of history. Gone are the days when, finding themselves outside the compound or without the comfort of like-minded company, diplomats could be seen flopping around like fish on a dock or for sale in a wet market. These days, diplomats must swim like a fish in the sea. Or, at minimum, learn how.17
While there will always be a place for confidential negotiations and formal exchanges, globalization has caused the centre of diplomatic gravity to shift out of the chancellery and into the street. This means going retail, and, more particularly, taking diplomacy public: through the strategic use of the new and conventional media, by initiating partnerships with civil society, and by developing a high degree of technological savvy. Today's diplomatic encounters are just as likely to take place in a barrio or a suk, in an internet chat room or a blog, on main street or in a Quonset hut set astride the wire. The transformed international security environment requires no less.
Public diplomats use the tools and tactics of public relations (a commitment to continuing conversation, the identification of shared objectives, relationship building, image projection, and reputation management) to connect with populations at both the mass and elite levels. Practitioners count on the effective use of networking and advocacy-as opposed, for instance, to a démarche at the foreign ministry followed up by a diplomatic note-to shape public opinion and in so doing help to move host governments towards desired ends.
The territory? Cerebral. The currency? Ideas. The marketplace? Global. The diplomat? Part activist, part lobbyist, part street-smart policy entrepreneur.18
As a networker and knowledge worker, the public diplomat becomes an agile agent with access to critical information sources, navigating pathways of influence that others can't chart or manoeuvre through. Boring deep into the interstices of power or operating unconventionally, often outside their traditional metropolitan comfort zones, diplomats, through dialogue, can connect directly with the proximate drivers of insecurity-anger, resentment, humiliation, alienation. In this way, insights can be gained into the possible actions and potential consequences of those harbouring such feelings. Again, the implications for intelligence collection are profound.
Public diplomacy is most effective when meaningful exchange finds demonstrable expression in policy development and state action. In this it goes well beyond public affairs, which seeks more to inform than to persuade, and has more in common with dialogue than propaganda, which is a one-way flow of information characterized typically by inaccuracy or bias.19 But public diplomacy will not work in a vacuum. For starters, domestic constituencies must be maintained and nurtured if international policy objectives are to resonate with citizens. Performing that kind of outreach is no easy task, especially for those whose primary orientation is international: backs to their capitals and countrymen, faces to the world. Diplomats, perhaps more than other officials, need to become Janus-faced.
In all of these respects, both inward- and outward-focused, a high degree of comfort, and familiarity with the media is essential. Personal relationships with journalists and editors, based on mutual confidence, trust and respect, are crucial to success. But building such bridges is neither easy nor necessarily popular with political masters.
ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Negotiation doesn't take place around green baize tables. No carafe of Vichy water, no demi-tasse of coffee, aid and comfort the discussions. For the discussants are 10 thousand miles apart. They communicate by sending and receiving signals. The signals are gradations of violence.... Smooth diplomacy delivered despatches to a chancellery. Rough diplomacy delivers bombs to a refinery - the very rough, to a hospital. Such unholy communion is called tacit negotiation. Tacit negotiation is negotiation without negotiators, foreign policy without foreign offices, diplomacy without diplomatists. In tacit negotiation you let your weapons do the talking. The marines are your ambassadors. Their mortars are your message.... What's new is not the method but the popularity of the method, the pervasiveness of the method....
A second change in the environment of foreign policy is the shiftalready visible-from the nation state to the urban centre as the significant focus of political activity.
A third change in the milieu of negotiation which will render traditional diplomatic activity all but obsolete, if not entirely obsolete, is the emergence of the individual to a significant role in world politics... He may travel around, as a tourist. He may trade abroad, as a merchant. And he may comment on what the Department of External Affairs does on his behalf, as a journalist, as a professor, as a writer of letters to newspapers. That is as far as it goes. And it does not go far enough. For there is another tradition besides the state-centric tradition...and this humanistic tradition-despite many appearances to the contrary-is gradually gaining ground... It has nothing to do with moral authority. It has everything to do with an improved technology.20
Fifteen years after the fact, just about every commentator and pundit of note has held forth on the significance of the changes all around usunipolarity, the end of history, a clash of civilizations.21 Far fewer, however, have focused on the weight of the baggage carried over from the Cold War to the globalization era.
Perhaps most obvious is the extent of the intellectual, or, more precisely, the psychological spillover that has accompanied the passage from one age to the next. Here, I mean the mentality that has underlain and informed the dominant international political ethic of each period. This was, and remains, critical in ensuring that domestic public opinion, in the west generally and in the US in particular, is kept onside. The requisite propaganda efforts were, and remain, massive.
During the Cold War, the stage set was for the global contest of "us against them"-capitalists versus communists, free peoples versus the oppressed, democrats versus totalitarians. "The other" was out there, plotting our downfall, scheming for advantage. But it was also among us, as Senator Joe McCarthy and the house committee on un-American activities revealed with such venom.
The defining feature of international relations in the globalization era, post-9/11, has become the global war on terror, and with that has come a reconnection with the "us against them" mentality. Then it was the communists; now it is the terrorists. They, too, are not just "out there," but among us, sometimes "home-grown." Draconian controls on civil liberties and a litany of other measures-ranging from extraordinary rendition to the establishment of "black" interrogation sites and the legitimization of torture-have been among the results.
The characterization of the nature of the threat is the second feature that has been carried forward. During the Cold War, the threat posed by the "red menace" was seen to be global and undifferentiated. Western interests were at risk in central Europe, northeast and then southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and central and South America. Dominoes were poised to fall apparently everywhere. And to avoid that, to contain the threat, the west would have set aside any concern for human rights and democratic development and support, if not install, some very unsavoury figures, most of whom seem in retrospect like caricatures of right-wing dictators: Thieu in Vietnam, Pinochet in Chile, the Shah of Iran, a slew of central American generals. It was a rogues gallery, but they were "our" rogues.
During the first decade after the end of the Cold War, it became clear that it would be difficult to identify a threat similar to what had been posed by communism. China and a host of lesser players such as North Korea, Iraq, and Iran, were being sized up as possible stand-ins for the now defunct USSR. Attention was devoted to political Islam and the dangers of fundamentalism. Civilizations were in collision. In general, though, the gos were a rough patch for threat conjurers.
September 11 changed all of that. The west was again at war, this time against terrorism. That threat, too, was spun as global and undifferentiated. At the March 2002 meeting of the International Studies Association in New Orleans, James Der Derian of Brown University commented that while he discounted the various conspiracy theories that had sprung up around 9/11, there was nonetheless no doubt in his mind that the events of that day had been played to advantage by those with ideological drive and a calculated understanding of political opportunity.
This was a prescient observation, and it leads directly to the third similarity between the Cold War and globalization eras, namely, the preferred form of response, which in both cases has been predominantly military. While we can perhaps live with a confrontational mentality and an inaccurate characterization of the threat, the militarization of international policy is, quite literally, killing us.
During the Cold War, containment meant going to war in Korea and Vietnam, garrisoning western Europe and east Asia, building up the mujeheddin to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. During the present "Long War," the fight against terrorism has been used to sideline diplomacy, justify the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, establish new military bases in central and southeast Asia and the Middle East, and an enormous increase in military expenditures.
I believe that this trio of traits-the promotion of a confrontational mentality, the inaccurate characterization of the threat, and the counterproductive nature of the response-help to explain why the world remained locked in the Cold War rut for almost 50 years. If we wish to avoid becoming mired in a similar predicament for the next 50, it follows that we will have to find a way to dispense with these constructs that have been carried over from the recent past.
In my view, this will involve the substitution of talking for fighting, and the embrace of human-centred, equitable, and sustainable development as the basis of the new security
I do not really know James Eayrs. I did have a wonderful conversation with him once in the late gos at a reception hosted by the University of Toronto's international relations society, but his contribution to public life has been singular. It is sorely, even desperately, missed.
What, then, are some of the over-riding themes that emerge from this survey of Eayrs's thought?
First and foremost, as I hope will be obvious at this point, is the extent to which his observations have stood the test of time. Eayrs's humanism, as well as his scepticism-in the classic, philosophical sense-have proven excellent companions. The infectious feistiness, iconoclasm, and irreverence that characterize his analyses put him in a class of his own.
To the diplomat, Eayrs would say that vigilance and rigour must constantly be applied in the quest for relevance and effectiveness. He would insist on knowing what you are about, on asserting that there is no point in perfecting process in the absence of purpose, and that resources are squandered if not allocated in proportion to need. To use a couple of terms popular with Treasury Board, he would insist on getting value for money to produce results for Canadians.
As to the qualities sought in a foreign service officer, Canada's human face in the world, he would look for intelligence, adaptability, and acuity. More than that, though, there would be a premium on iconoclasm, innovation, natural curiosity, and, most of all, the moral courage to offer honest advice, to speak truth to power-all very much the stuff of the "new diplomat."
In his book The New Diplomacy, former British diplomat Shaun Riordan writes: "Most diplomatic services have responded to the changing international context by burying their heads in the sand...neither providing good value...nor contributing effectively to stabilizing an increasingly uncertain and dangerous world."" I am sure that James Eayrs would endorse that conclusion; one of the salient themes in his writing is that diplomacy has had its day, that it has been overtaken, mumbling and bumbling, by events. Eayrs was convinced that diplomacy was locked mindlessly into a pattern of inexorable decline, displaced by military and technological approaches to the management of international relations. To be fair, his judgement was based on a critique of traditional diplomacy, but still, on this point our ways, at least to a certain extent, part. Whatever might be said about the failings of foreign ministries-and I have a rather substantial record on that score-I believe that diplomacy, and especially public diplomacy, represent the most undervalued tools in the international policy shed. In this regard Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada has not been sleepwalking into the 2ist century.
Globalization, quite apart from its economically polarizing features, has raised immensely the consciousness of difference, both absolute and relative. In this wired-or wireless-world, more and more people have access to more and more information, and many of them don't much like what they see. Globalization has some very rough edges, something former Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy referred to as globalization's underside. It is that underside, in combination with adherence to a set of policies with which much of the world has had great difficulty-preemption, forwardbasing of troops in the Middle East and central Asia, extraordinary rendition, the counterinsurgency operation in Afghanistan, the occupation of Iraq, the appearance of a western crusade against the Islamic world-and that has provided the logic for suicide bombing and given rise to the new insecurity.23
The mere existence of such a contested list in the globalization era goes much of the way to explaining why it is no longer necessary to be poor, oppressed, or exploited to become very angry about poverty, oppression, or exploitation. In an increasingly connected, media-saturated, cyber-spatial world, a growing number of people have ready access to an expanding volume of information, much of it visual as well as textual. The vicarious experience of suffering, if only through the knowledge of its existence, has proven more than enough to inspire an extreme reaction among nascent virtual communities worldwide.24
While there is clearly a role for the use efforce in countering terrorism, in the larger picture there can be no sole military solution to this problem. In the fullness of time, the underlying circumstances that give rise to such strongly held convictions and complaints will need to be addressed. Cooperation in support of equitable, sustainable, comprehensive and inclusive development would seem our best bet for a more secure future.
In the interim, however, it is, or in any case should be, all about diplomacy-specifically talking, not fighting; addressing legitimate grievances, and dealing with those grievances whose legitimacy might not be immediately obvious. To make this happen, Canada, among others, will need constantly to rethink its approach. And so we should. Unlike many countries, Canada is changing in tandem with the changing world. In terms of immigration, trade, investment, travel, we are the globalization nation, and that confers upon us a real comparative advantage. We threaten no one and carry no colonial baggage. Our image, reputation, and nature are our strengths, and it is time to play to them.
Are we ready? Is a revolution in diplomatic affairs, as far-reaching and transformative as the putative revolution in military affairs, overdue?
To be sure, there is more to be done. There always will be, so long as the world turns. An increasing number of major issues are rooted in science and technology (global warming/climate change, weapons of mass destruction, pandemic disease, etc.). Yet we are still without a high level international science advisor. The magnitude of these challenges has not been fully reflected in the structure or operations of government.
Our representational profile abroad, or diplomatic footprint, is not as supple, flexible, or adaptable as it might be. In some places that footprint needs to be large and visible, for example, in a global network node such as London.25 In other places, small and light is just about right. In certain settings, such as conflict zones, complete portability, using a secure satellite uplink for communications but leaving no physical trace, may be most appropriate.
The best decisions are taken in full view of all options and choices; consideration might usefully be given to the establishment of a dissent channel to get critical assessments to senior decision-makers without first being filtered by those with other views or who may have a career interest associated with in a particular line.26 For some, blessing the received wisdom may be preferable to embracing heresy, but the road between the two is growing shorter. To find the best way forward, those responsible for taking decisions should receive the benefit of the widest range of opinion and analysis.
The virtual desk, which would use information and communications technologies to create networks of expertise extending far beyond the department, remains mainly in the realm of ideas.
We could usefully, and quite easily, establish a diplomatic reserve, composed not just of retired heads of mission, but of all of those with relevant knowledge, experience, and ability who are willing to serve when and where needed.
Still, if the reform agenda is unfinished, a great deal has nonetheless been accomplished in recent years. More could be done to improve the terms and conditions of service abroad, but foreign service officers are once again fairly remunerated, with compensation and recognition better aligned with skills and experience. Eligibility for entry to the group has been broadened, and in its composition it now better reflects the diversity of Canada's population. Senior diplomatic professionals-area experts, senior negotiators, and subject matter specialists-need no longer seek entrance to the executive group in order to have a fulfilling career. A values and ethics division has been established and there is more openness, transparency and accountability generally. Training at all levels has improved immeasurably. Learning by doing for new recruits has been replaced by a full year of formal diplomatic instruction at the Canadian Foreign Service Institute.
A more systematic and objective approach has been taken to performance appraisal: promotions and bonuses are now less of a beauty or popularity contest. A diplomatic rapid reaction group has been set up to deal immediately, and, where possible, preventatively with crises, and consideration is being given to a proposal to pre-position consular response teams in the field to deal with natural disasters and manmade emergencies.27
The department consults with clients and interested parties more widely and more often, and is using the internet to test hypotheses and to ventilate and democratize the policy development process.28 And, most of all, we now have a plan, a vision, discussed above, to remake the department in response to the challenges of the 2ist century. We may not yet have reached the goal of becoming a catalyst ready and able to coordinate action on broad, cross-cutting issues, but the idea of diplomats as globalization managers is no longer completely alien.
In terms of balance, the achievements have been substantial. That said, at this time of unprecedented prosperity and fiscal capacity, much more could be done, faster and better, were it not for the severe resource constraints which have plagued the department since at least the late 905. As has frequently been observed by some of my colleagues in this volume, and by other academics and by members of the retired heads of mission association, with a scant couple of hundred million dollars-a pittance by the standards of other federal departments-great strides could be made towards delivering on the promise inherent in the mantra of relevance, effectiveness, and transformation. "Working smarter" can only get you so far. In diplomacy as elsewhere, there is a demonstrable dialectic between results and resources, and when demands (new missions, more visits, better consular service), keep increasing while the supply (of human and financial resources) remains static or diminishing, performance will inevitably suffer.
To do more we need more. Reinvestment is essential.
By way of concluding: These could scarcely be more interesting times. We have witnessed the unipolar moment, and it is now passing, flaming out in a starburst of violence more widespread and haphazard that that which precipitated the reaction. Foreign ministries have been ignored, diplomacy sidelined, and international policy militarized.
Yet the status quo cannot stand; indeed, tectonic plates are shifting beneath us. Amidst the wreckage wrought by decades of us versus them, there remains now only us on this small, imperilled planet. And were it only naïve idealism. The evidence is everywhere that a fundamental, and very difficult, change of course will be required if we are to meet the myriad challenges facing us, not the least of which will be doing a much better job this century of accommodating the rise of new powers (China, India, Brazil, the EU) than was the case in the last (USA, USSR, Japan, Germany). The failures of the 2oth century to manage such events were signal, and the stakes are now even higher.
The way forward, though still shrouded somewhat in the mists of uncertainty, is beginning to be revealed in sharper relief. While it is a subject that deserves much more comprehensive treatment, I believe that there exist for Canada real possibilities for playing a distinctive, active, and progressive role this emerging dispensation. Canada has something of value to offer the world, something that goes well beyond the special projects and niches with which we have been preoccupied of late.'9 But realizing that potential will require real commitment and concrete action.
I don't think that Eayrs would be very enthusiastic about the currently popular theories of either just war or democratic peace. And I expect that he would see the doctrines of human security and the responsibility to protect as thinly veiled justifications for armed intervention on the part of those who feel their vital interests engaged or jeopardized.
The last words go to the professor:
The global village, should it come to that, may only offer greater scope to the global village idiots...every day in every way, governments behave worse and worse. They lie, they cheat, they dissemble, they kill for what they conceive, often quite mistakenly, to be the national interest...a military-media complex is no less dangerous to democracy than the military-industrial complex which President Elsenhower warned about in his farewell address.
Twentieth-century war is increasingly an instrument of doctrinal conviction. Doctrinal war, more than war fought for gain, or to pre-emptive attack, is likely to be total war and brutal war. Crusades are notorious for their cruelty....
Those who serve the state as warriors are largely spared these stresses and strains. They are protected by their training and their ethic which, more than in any other profession, cultivate the ideal of unquestioning obedience to higher command. The diplomatist may well experience malaise when required to execute policies which seem to him likely to result in war; for the onset of war is to him a signification of his failure.
1 I will limit my treatment to material presented in Diplomacy and its Discontents (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971), a popular synopsis of Eayrs's thinking on the subject. In reviewing Eayrs's wonderfully clear, engaging, and readable commentary, and in surveying the intervening events, I will have to take some license. For that I ask a degree of forbearance from the reader and, more particularly, from Eayrs himself.
2 Joseph Nye, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (New York, Public Affairs, 2004).
3 Joseph Nye, "The decline of American soft power," Foreign Affairs (May/June 2004); "Global opinion: The spread of anti-Americanism," Trends 2005, Pew Research Center, Washington, DC, 2006. Joseph Nye, "The rise of China's soft power," Asian Wall Street Journal, 29 December 2000; J. Kurlantzick, "China's charm: Implications of Chinese soft power," policy brief no. 47, Carnegie Endowment, New York, 2006.
4 A term first coined by US General Charles Krulak, the "three block war" refers to three levels of engagement: aid and assistance, stabilization efforts, and high intensity fighting. This is closely associated with the "3Ds" of Canadian international policy (diplomacy, defence, and development). See "A soldier's guide to army transformation," National Defence Canada, 2006; "Beyond peace: Canada in Afghanistan," Canada World View, DFAIT, Autumn 2003. The revolution in military affairs is a theory originating in the US and very popular with the Bush administration. Adherents suggest that changes in technology and organization have transformed the ways in which wars can and should be fought. See Donald Rumsfeld, "Transforming the military," Foreign Affairs (May/June 2002).
5 "The paradoxes of counter-insurgency," New York Times, 5 October 2006.
6 Offered in reference to the document released by the Department of External Affairs in 1970 under the title, "Foreign policy for Canadians."
7 Commenting on the recommendations of Britain's 1969 Duncan report, produced by the review committee on overseas representation.
8 See, for instance, Daryl Copeland, "Foreign policy, foreign service and the 21st century: The challenge of globalization," Canadian Foreign Policy 4, no. 3 (1997): 105-12.
9 I prepared a critique of this exercise that was published by the professional association of foreign service officers under the title "Bureaucratoxis," PASFSO Papers 1, no.2 (1992). A year later, when asked to describe the current status of the review enterprise, one senior manager looked down and replied, dismally: "We no longer speak of it...."
10 An interesting experiment is underway south of the border, where at Georgetown University on 18 January 2006, US secretary of State Condoleza Rice launched the transformational diplomacy strategy that will dramatically reallocate resources within the State Department, and, especially, within and between diplomatic missions abroad in favour of emerging thematic and geographic priorities, www.state.gov.
11 I.F.Stone's Weekly published for decades some of the most insightful criticism of the US government, breaking confidential stories regularly without access to secret material. See Myra MacPherson, All Governments Lie: The Life and Times of Rebel journalist I. F. Stone (New York: Scribner, 2006).
12 As part of the post 9/11 security package contained in the 2002 federal budget, DFAIT secured funding to establish a global security reporting program, consisting of a dedicated network of political officers reporting on security issues and serving in eleven sensitive locations worldwide.
13 Jennifer Welsh, At Home in the World (Toronto: HarperCollins, 2004); see also "From middle power to model power," Canada 25, Ottawa, 2004, www.canada25.com.
14 The most celebrated recent example of this dishonest, disastrous practice was the justification for the invasion of Iraq on the basis of "intelligence" indicating the presence of weapons of mass destruction.
15 For example, during the 19805 there were repeated allegations of the use of chemical or bacteriological agents against hill tribes in Laos. With Canadian assistance, a UN mission was dispatched to the refugee camps along the north-eastern frontier to examine the scientific evidence. I was the team's escort. Bee feces were determined to be the substance in question.
16 In November 1991 Indonesian troops broke up a peaceful pro-independence demonstration in Dili, East Timor. Many hundreds were killed, wounded, or missing. A Canadian interdepartmentally reviewed assessment stated that events of this kind could be attributed to the nature of the Indonesian regime. When the assessment arrived in the department, officials in the geographic branch-whose job it was to promote Canada's political and economic relations with Indonesia-hit the roof. They had sent a memo up to the Minister, echoing Australian Foreign Minister Careth Evans's view that the event, while unfortunate, was in fact "an aberration," a one-off episode unlikely to be repeated, and that no drastic action was required or recommended. The minister of the day wondered whom to believe. After much acrimonious debate, Canada suspended aid and imposed limited sanctions.
17 There is now a rich literature on public diplomacy, or PD, and I have tried to push the model in a couple of recent articles: "Guerrilla diplomacy: Delivering international policy in a digital world," Canadian Foreign Policy 11, no. 2 (2004); and "New rabbits, old hats: International policy and Canada's foreign service in the era of diminished resources," International Journal 60, no. 3 (2005).
18 The requisite qualities of the new diplomat would include a critical consciousness and enquiring mind, an appreciation of diversity and taste for adventure, an entrepreneurial spirit, and the courage of one's convictions. In the memorable words of my colleague Chris Westdal: "brains, stomach, and spine."
19 American academic Nancy Snow defines propaganda as "the spreading of ideas, information, or rumour for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause or a person." www.nancvsnow.com.
20 Offered in reference to the USA's involvement in the war with Vietnam.
21 Significant contributors include John Ralston Saul, Robert Kaplan, Thomas Friedman, Paul Kennedy, Niall Ferguson, Michael lgnatieff, Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukayama, Robert Cooper, Benjamin Barber, Thomas Homer-Dixon.
22 Shaun Riordan, The New Diplomacy (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003).
23 Bruce Hoffman, "The logic of suicide terrorism," The Atlantic Monthly (June 2003); Robert Pape, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (New York: Random House, 2005).
24 This dynamic comes into play when trying to explain how it is that some relatively well to do members of the working and middle classes, or people from middle income or wealthy countries, become attracted to terrorism or revolution.
25 That is, we should perhaps be thinking more in terms of a Canadian embassy to and in the city of London, where visibility and capacity in a number of key sectors is becoming increasingly important, rather than, or in addition to, a high commission to the UK, where the importance of the bilateral relationship has been gradually diminishing.
26 The US State Department, for instance, has long had such a facility.
27 START, the stabilization and reconstruction task force, is an interdepartmental coordinating and executive body with a secretariat housed in DFAIT. It was established in 2005 with a budget of $100 million/year.
28 This innovative use of the interactive possibilities associated with the web has set Canada apart from other countries. The application was first tried in 2003 with the foreign policy dialogue initiated by then-Minister Bill Graham. It continues today as the ediscussion site, an element of the department's policy and planning and research function. Papers are posted for comment, and official responses provided. see: http://geo.international.gc.ca. The internet is also used extensively by the Canadian Foreign Service Institute for "distance learning" purposes.
29 The move over the past few decades from large, long-term, world-order international policy objectives such as poverty reduction, arms control, conflict resolution, and environmental activism, to a more short-term, limited, and project-based approach has been definitive, and attributable in roughly equal measure to design (the reallocation of resources in support of domestic priorities) and default (the inevitability of our relatively smaller place in the world). Lloyd Axworthy recognized this pattern and made a virtue of necessity by rolling out a string of niche initiatives, ranging from the land mine ban to the International Criminal Court to children in conflict, all packaged as part of his human security agenda. See Daryl Copeland, "The Axworthy years: Canadian foreign policy in the era of diminished capacity," in Fen Hampson, Norman Hillmer, Maureen Molot, eds., Canada Among Nations (Toronto: Oxford University Press. 2001).
Daryl Copeland is a Canadian diplomat who has had postings abroad in Thailand, Ethiopia, New Zealand, and Malaysia. He is writing in a purely personal capacity and responsibility for the views expressed is his alone. The document accordingly is not an expression of the policy of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade or the Government of Canada. He is at present engaged in a special research and writing assignment on diplomacy, security, and international policy in the globalization age.…
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Publication information: Article title: James Eayrs on Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and International Relations: A Retrospective. Contributors: Copeland, Daryl - Author. Journal title: International Journal. Volume: 62. Issue: 2 Publication date: Spring 2007. Page number: 241+. © Canadian Institute of International Affairs Fall 1997. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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