Diplomacy and Its Discontents

Diplomacy and Its Discontents

Diplomacy and Its Discontents

Diplomacy and Its Discontents

Excerpt

In 1965 I was invited to give the Alan B. Plaunt Memorial Lectures at Carleton University. 'As a subject,' its president proposed, 'I would suggest Canada's international relations or some fairly broad aspect of them. The audiences are usually of a kind not very appreciative of detailed scholarly exposition ... They usually include a large number of senior government people.'

It happened that the date set for the first of the two lectures coincided with that for a banquet commemorating the centennial anniversary of the Rideau Club; to that event, not mine, the 'large number of senior government people' for whom I'd gathered my thoughts ineluctably gravitated. But Ottawa is like a drum -- albeit a kettle-dram -- and word of what I'd said quickly passed around.

For foreign policy-makers especially that word was not to their liking. A former assistant under-secretary of state for external affairs felt obliged to publish a rebuttal: 'To the intellectual who refuses to serve the state because he fears he may be defiled by his service to the state, I say, "Go hang yourself, brave Crillon; we fought at Arques, and you were not there."'A former ambassador to the Soviet Union revealed that the lectures stirred in him 'a strong revulsion,' and advised the practitioner of foreign affairs on no account to read them: 'They will only raise his blood-pressure, without giving him the slightest help, either moral or practical, in the exercise of his exacting, often exasperating but essential and rewarding profession.' A former prime minister and secretary of state for external affairs took them to task for asserting that public service is uncongenial for the inquiring mind: 'One might as well say that the football squad is no place for the honour student in English because "the environment is alien."' (It was not for literature that Lester Pearson received his Nobel Prize -- nor for logic either.) . . .

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