Academic journal article Military Review

ELLSWORTH BUNKER: Global Troubleshooter, Vietnam Hawk

Academic journal article Military Review

ELLSWORTH BUNKER: Global Troubleshooter, Vietnam Hawk

Article excerpt

ELLSWORTH BUNKER: Global Troubleshooter, Vietnam Hawk, Howard B. Schaffer, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2003, 380 pages, $34.95.

The idea of diplomacy is the reasonable bargaining between men-a formula that fits Ellsworth Bunker's diplomatic career. After a successful business career, he was an ambassador for a succession of presidents, from Harry S. Truman to Jimmy Carter. Bunker helped broker and negotiate agreements over West New Guinea, Yemen, the Dominican Republic, and the Panama Canal, but he might best be remembered as the Ambassador to South Vietnam, 1967-1973.

Bunker behaved as a professional, not a talented amateur. He believed his job was to maintain state-to-state relations and acted as a technician and a craftsman without grand theories of diplomatic relations or America's place in the world. He concentrated on finding solutions to immediate issues to further U.S. foreign policy objectives, which made him a supple negotiator with firm beliefs about the right of selfdetermination and the improvement of the lives of ordinary people.

Bunker was most effective as a negotiator, in part because of the trust five presidents placed in him. His business experience stood him in good stead as he formulated the principles of a good negotiator, which to a great degree followed maxims formulated by the classic commentators on Western diplomatic practice, then modified to fit 20th-century circumstances. …

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