Keeping the Peace in the Cyprus Crisis of 1963-64

(Palgrave-Macmillan: Basingstoke and New York, 2002), pp. 241 (with index). ISBN 0-333-74857-3.

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After some difficulties, a UN force was established in Cyprus (UNFICYP) following the collapse of the bicommunal independence constitution of this former British colony – a constitution which the Greek Cypriots had always felt too favourable to the Turkish minority – at Christmas 1963. In this book, Alan James, Professor Emeritus of Keele University and leading authority on peacekeeping, provides what is likely to be regarded as the definitive history of the creation of this force. He has scoured the archives not only of Britain, the United Nations, and the United States (the latter dragged into the crisis by the serious implications for NATO of any outbreak of fighting between Athens and Ankara), but also of those in two troop-contributing states, Canada and Ireland. He has also gathered much oral evidence. This has enabled him to produce an extremely clear and authoritative account. A particular strength of this is its lengthy and careful analysis of the West’s interest in a peaceful Cyprus, even though it contains no real surprises. But this is not just a history. James has also provided a persuasive defence of the difficult work of UNFICYP – the largely successful policing not of a ‘recognized international boundary, but a complex pattern of intercommunal hostility’. How did it do this, and to what purpose? Chiefly by ‘persuasion and conciliation’; and with a view not to halting determined military action by any party which might actually occur but to discouraging development of the kind of fear, animosity, accident, and misunderstanding that might produce this in the first place. However, he is also clear that the ‘prophylactic’ work of UNFICYP, both in 1964 and the many years since, has been secondary in the maintenance of peace on the island. The main contribution, he insists, has been the ‘strategic stalemate’ between the communities and their mainland backers.

While few would be likely to argue with the conclusion just noted, James is aware that he is on more controversial ground in rejecting the common criticism of UNFICYP that it has hindered the search for a political settlement of the Cyprus problem by ‘freezing’ the status quo. To this his reply is: first, that there is no way of knowing what would have happened in the absence of a UN force; and secondly, that it is more likely that it is the same stalemate that has kept the peace that has also blocked a settlement. By keeping the temperature on the island down at least UNFICYP contributed to an atmosphere favourable to negotiations should the parties have had sufficient incentive to take them seriously. Against this, though, it has to be said that stalemates themselves generally produce serious negotiations – provided they are ‘hurting’ stalemates and hold out no hope of improvement to either side. And James acknowledges that UNFICYP has prevented the Cyprus stalemate from hurting more than it might have done. What we should conclude, therefore, is that UNFICYP has assisted the search for a political settlement in one way but perhaps hindered it in another; that it has, in other words, been a mixed blessing.

Keeping the Peace in the Cyprus Crisis of 1963-642019-10-14T20:28:44+01:00

Cursed is the Peacemaker: The American Diplomat Versus the Israeli General, Beirut 1982

An ADST/DACOR ‘Diplomats and Diplomacy’ book (Applegate Press: Belmont, CA, 2002), pp. 488 (with index). ISBN 0-9719432-0-6.

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Philip Habib, a Brooklyn-born son of Lebanese immigrants, joined the US Foreign Service in 1949. Tough, direct, highly intelligent, and a gifted negotiator, by 1965 he had achieved the position of political counsellor in the hottest of all US embassies, Saigon. Thereafter – with an interlude as ambassador to South Korea – he rose quickly to the top of the bureau of East Asian and Pacific affairs. In 1976 he was appointed undersecretary of state for political affairs, the number three job in the State Department. Such was his diplomatic reputation by this time that, despite having been appointed by Kissinger he was retained in this post by the incoming Carter administration. However, at the end of 1977 serious heart trouble forced him to resign and in February 1980, aged 60, he formally retired. This book is a detailed account of how – continuing heart problems notwithstanding and to his great delight – the Reagan administration brought him out of retirement to serve as a special envoy in the Middle East. First he was given the task of negotiating a settlement of two dangerous Arab-Israeli skirmishes in 1981. Then he was charged with a peaceful resolution of the Israeli siege of the PLO positions in West Beirut in 1982, following the invasion of Lebanon by Israeli forces under the military – and to all intents and purposes political – command of the defence minister, Ariel Sharon. It is with this last responsibility that this book is chiefly concerned.

Sharon was determined to destroy the PLO, drive out the Syrians, and create an Israeli puppet state in Lebanon under the Maronite leader, Bashir Gemayel. However, having cornered the PLO in Beirut he found the prospect of street-fighting no more attractive than did the Phalangist allies upon whom he had previously been relying to execute this unpleasant task. As a result, he reluctantly made a deal with the Americans to allow the PLO to depart behind the shield of a multinational force including US Marines, Washington being anxious to avoid a bloodbath in the city which would seriously damage Israel’s reputation and – by association – its own. However, Sharon hated having to let the PLO go and was determined to make their departure as costly and humiliating as possible. This, among other things (e.g. finding states that would accept their fighters), rendered Habib’s task difficult, to put it mildly. (It also brought relations between the Marines and the Israeli Defence Force to an extraordinary – indeed combustible – low.) His eventual success was a personal triumph and he was awarded the US Medal of Freedom, though his reputation was subsequently tarnished when – to his intense fury – his guarantee of the safety of the Palestinians left behind proved worthless. The Phalangists, with the connivance of Sharon, conducted appalling massacres in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

John Boykin, a freelance writer, has written a very good account of these affairs. It is based on voluminous documentary sources and many interviews with participants, though unfortunately not in any sustained way with Habib himself, who died in 1992, shortly before the author started work on his manuscript. The book has a somewhat journalistic style, it is true, and Boykins’s penchant for reporting conversations as they allegedly took place leaves the professional historian in me feeling a little uneasy. Nevertheless, he has a frank and substantially reassuring note on this aspect of his methods in ‘Sources and Bibliography’. Boykin is also frank about his bias: pro-Habib and very strongly anti-Sharon, though there is nothing wrong with that – as far as it goes. It is perhaps a pity, though, that Boykin is so determined to give us only the world through the eyes of Habib that he quite deliberately sets out to advance no opinions of his own. One consequence of this is that he does not succeed entirely in clarifying Habib’s negotiating methods, let alone subject them to criticism (though he reports the comments of others). For example, at one point Boykin notes Habib’s stated preference for proceeding from the particular to the general (p. 108), though in his subsequent description of his ‘plan’ makes abundantly clear that in reality his approach was – as might be expected – exactly the opposite (p. 129). Nevertheless, the main features of Habib’s methods stand out strongly enough from Boykin’s lively and well-organized narrative. This is an American account of an American diplomatic hero. The lives and achievements of such people need to be given prominence, especially at the present juncture in world affairs.

Cursed is the Peacemaker: The American Diplomat Versus the Israeli General, Beirut 19822019-10-14T20:28:44+01:00

The International Law Commission 1949-1998. Vol. One: The Treaties, Part I

(Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1999), pp. 608 (with index). ISBN 0-19-829803-X.

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This first volume of a three-volume set is – price apart – a marvellous text for any student of diplomatic and consular law. Four of its seven chapters fall under these heads: ch. 3, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961; ch. 4, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963; ch. 5, the Convention on Special Missions, 1969; and ch. 7, the (unratified) Vienna Convention on the Representation of States in their Relations with International Organizations of a Universal Character, 1975. In each chapter Sir Arthur Watts provides a useful introduction, summary ILC history of the topic, selected bibliography, ILC final draft articles and commentary, and then the full text of the convention as signed at the conference. What is particularly useful in this list is provision of the final draft articles as they emerged from the ILC, together with its commentary, i.e. thinking, on them. As far as I am aware, these have only been published before in the Yearbook of the International Law Commission. And, as Sir Arthur says, ‘for many practical purposes, and as a starting point for further research, primary importance probably attaches to the final products of the Commission’s work’ – its ‘considered views’.

The International Law Commission 1949-1998. Vol. One: The Treaties, Part I2019-10-14T20:28:44+01:00

Leadership Selection in the Major Multilaterals

(Inst. for International Economics: Washington, Nov. 2001), pp. 132 with index. ISBN 0-88132-335-7.

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Inspired by the damaging leadership contest fiascos of recent years in certain international organizations, not least that in the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1998-9, this is a timely and important book. Kahler emphasises that if these bodies do not abandon their old, creaking ‘club system of governance’ and get their acts together, they will lose their already precarious support in the US Congress and forfeit that of their increasingly assertive members among the developing countries, particularly the large emerging market-economies. With the institutions of global governance thus put at risk, ‘a global economic future consonant with liberal norms’ would also be in jeopardy.

Despite the title, this book is actually concentrated almost exclusively on the problems of leadership selection in the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO, that is, the major economic multilaterals. Nevertheless, Kahler is surely right to emphasise their intrinsic importance and to argue that reforms in these international organizations would have implications for the others. In order to highlight the limitations of their existing leadership selection procedures, he provides detailed, lively, and extremely well researched accounts of their messy recent election contests. In the process he singles out for particularly sharp criticism the long-standing convention that the managing-director of the IMF should always be a European and the president of the World Bank an American, and the cumbersome consensus system of the WTO. (Kahler’s analysis of the last, where he draws attention to the serious consequences of not using straw votes, will be of particular interest to students of diplomacy.) At the end of the book he offers a list of badly needed reforms, many of which are clearly inspired by the procedures of major corporations. Some of those involved in the contests Kahler describes might find his insistence that they behave more virtuously a little unworldly but his appeals are made on the hallowed ground of enlightened self-interest. His book also has a good index. I recommend it strongly.

Leadership Selection in the Major Multilaterals2019-10-14T20:28:44+01:00

The Permanent Under-Secretary of State: A brief history of the office and its holders

History Notes, no. 15, April 2002 (FCO, Records and Historical Department: London), pp. 57. Free on request.

As the title of this booklet indicates, it is only a brief history of this increasingly influential office in the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Nevertheless, as one would expect from its provenance, it is completely authoritative, fluently written, draws on previously under-exploited archives, and includes many nineteenth century photographs never previously published.

Strongly recommended. This should be available on the FCO website by the end of July.

The Permanent Under-Secretary of State: A brief history of the office and its holders2019-10-14T20:28:44+01:00

A Diplomat in Siam (introduced and edited by Nigel Brailey)

first published 1994, rev. ed., Itineraria Asiatica, Thailand vol. VIII (Orchid Press: Bangkok, 2000), pp. 208, with index; ISBN 974-8304-73-6; price USD23.00

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Nigel Brailey, a University of Bristol historian who is well known to students of Sir Ernest Satow, is to be congratulated on bringing out a revised edition of this work, the fruit of Satow’s period as British minister-resident in Bangkok from 1885 until 1888. It is the journal which Satow, later the author of the famous Guide to Diplomatic Practice, kept on his long boat journey from Bangkok to the northern city of Chiangmai and back again, which took from the beginning of December 1885 until the end of the following February. The purpose of the trip, from which he returned with a serious case of malaria, was to investigate the delays in the Chiangmai ‘native’ court’s determination of disputes involving British subjects engaged in the teak trade, and to report on this trade generally. However, like the eminently professional diplomat he was, Satow noted down in his diary everything of conceivable interest – whether of plants and trees, wild life, ancient temples, agricultural practices, and so on – about which he learned on his journey. With hardly any political content in the diary at all, most of this makes dull reading for all but those with a general interest in late nineteenth century Thailand. Neverthless, it is revealing of Satow’s amazingly broad interests and of the kind of reporting that was expected of diplomats at that time. It is also a key primary source for the biography of Satow that is still awaited.

A Diplomat in Siam (introduced and edited by Nigel Brailey)2019-10-14T20:28:44+01:00

Bilateral Diplomacy

(DiploProject: Geneva and Malta, 2002), pp. 283, with index. ISBN 99909-55-16-6

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The second book on diplomacy by the former Indian ambassador, Kishan Rana, is hot on the heels of his first, Inside Diplomacy, reviewed with great enthusiasm on this site last year. It is the first in a new series called ‘DiploHandbooks’ that is being published by Jovan Kurbalija’s DiploProject, an educational and training operation based chiefly at the University of Malta and supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Aimed principally at trainee diplomats, the book is the fruit not only of the author’s long and varied diplomatic experience but also of his teaching in Malta and, most recently, on a Commonwealth assignment at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Windhoek, Namibia.

The first part of the book deals with the purposes of bilateral diplomacy and has some emphasis on commerce, finance and aid. The second deals with institutions: the MFA, embassies and consulates, joint commissions and other groups, and bilateral summits. And the third covers methods: diplomatic reports, cross-cultural sensitivity, diplomatic signalling, negotiating, and performance enhancement. In the long conclusion, the author pulls together the threads of his theme. This is that the resident embassy is more important than ever, not least because so many ‘home-based actors’ are now involved in bilateral relationships that only the embassy is in a position even to approximate to a grasp of the complete picture. Not surprisingly, he concludes, we are witnessing a ‘renaissance’ of bilateral diplomacy.

I have heard it said that her readers would walk bare-foot over broken glass to get their hands on the latest Dorothy Dunnett novel. Trainee diplomats should be prepared to make a similar sacrifice to acquire the latest Rana – though I trust that Mr Kurbalija will ensure that this is unnecessary. Kishan Rana’s insistence on the importance of bilateral diplomacy is not only compelling because of the force and elegance of his reasoning but also because he is no dinosaur striving to conjure up a lost world. On the contrary, his book oozes the language of modernity and has no hesitation in claiming that diplomats have much to learn from ‘business management methodology’. As a teaching book, the style and presentation are also very good. It is lucid and economical, points are generally enumerated, examples are often amusing, and chapters are rounded off with a list of questions to stir student thinking. It has a good index. Above all, though, it will be a successful textbook because it conveys the author’s enormous enthusiasm for his subject.

I would disappoint Ambassador Rana if I did not mention a few quibbles. There is a fair degree of overlap with Inside Diplomacy, which is also more detailed on some subjects and should be used in conjunction with Bilateral Diplomacy. The guides to further reading are also, I think, too short. While agreeing that ‘performance enhancement’ both in foreign ministries and embassies is obviously important, I do not share the author’s enthusiasm for employing ‘corporate techniques’ in its pursuit. The Thatcherite philistinism that spawned this approach in Britain in the 1980s has left a trail of institutional destruction – not least in the universities – that will take generations to repair. Nor can I agree that ‘it is rare to have significant business’ conducted at state funerals (p. 165), as readers of my essay on … er … ‘working’ funerals will appreciate! But these, to repeat, are just quibbles. This is a splendid teaching book for trainee diplomats and I recommend it most warmly.

Bilateral Diplomacy2019-10-14T20:28:44+01:00

Unvanquished: A U.S.-U.N. Saga

(I.B. Tauris: London and New York, 1999), ISBN 1-86064-497-X, pp. 352, incl. index.

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Question: When is a diplomatic victory not a diplomatic victory? Answer: When it is achieved by means of a veto in the Security Council of the United Nations. Nowhere is this maxim more tellingly illustrated than in the Council’s meeting in New York in November 1996 which voted on the issue of whether or not to give a full second term (five years) to the Secretary-General, the University of Paris educated Egyptian scholar-diplomat, Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Of the 15 members of the Council, 14 voted in favour and one voted against. Since that member was the United States this represented a veto – and that, to all intents and purposes, was the end of Africa’s first UN Secretary-General.

The US government had come to the conclusion that it did not want an independent spirit on the 38th Floor of the Secretariat and thought that ‘BB-G’ would make a useful scapegoat for the failures of US policy in the Balkans and Somalia. However, it had tried to avoid having to use its veto by going to extraordinary lengths to persuade his supporters to drop him. The State Department barnstormed an OAU summit, sent the Secretary of State himself on a trip to Africa, spread disinformation, and arm-twisted the other members of the Security Council. His official phone lines were tapped – or so he believes. The State Department even tried tempting him to stand down voluntarily with the offer of his own US-financed foundation and a new title – ‘Secretary-General of the United Nations Emeritus’. (Since this would signify ‘honourable discharge’ it was presumably intended to distinguish him from Kurt Waldheim, the predecessor with the somewhat questionable war record.) And yet, when it came to the vote on his future in the Security Council, not even the British supported the Americans – which tells us just what a diplomatic debacle for them this was.

But so what? As Boutros-Ghali says, ‘Only the weak rely on diplomacy [which] is perceived by an imperial power as a waste of time and prestige and a sign of weakness’ (p. 198). Of course, he exaggerates – as the half of his own book that I have summarised above amply demonstrates – but there is a kernel of truth in this observation. And this book, by any standards, is a quite riveting account of how and why the United States tried diplomacy but in the end shrugged its shoulders and cast its veto against Boutros Boutros-Ghali – even though its vital interests were not at stake. It is also likely to make angry anyone who thinks – as I do – that the world diplomatic system can only suffer from the political emasculation of the UN Secretariat. I have added some references to this valuable memoir, with its account of the ‘UN-vanquished’ but its Secretary-General morally ‘Unvanquished’ (the title is a clever pun), on the Updating Pages for my textbook.

Unvanquished: A U.S.-U.N. Saga2019-10-14T20:28:44+01:00

Decision-Making in the UN Security Council: The case of Haiti, 1990-1997

(Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1998), ISBN 0-19-829483-2, pp. 322 with index.

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Question: ‘When is a “Foreword” not a “Foreword”? Answer: When it is written by Adam Roberts. This book started life as an Oxford doctoral thesis under the supervision of Professor Roberts, and the former supervisor has done both the former student and readers of this book a great service by prefacing it with a seven-page essay in which he underlines its importance in convincing detail. So this, unlike ninety-nine per cent of examples of the same genre, is a Foreword that should not be ignored.

David Malone is a former Canadian diplomat. During the first five years of the period on which his book focuses he represented Canada at the UN in New York, first on ECOSOC and then as Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative with important responsibilities in peacekeeping. Prompted by his country’s close interest in Haiti, this was a valuable vantage point from which to observe the subject of his study: first, how in September 1994 the UN helped restore democratically elected President Aristide to power after he had been removed by a military coup three years earlier; and secondly, how it then tried to assist the re-building of his tattered state. Malone establishes the context with a chapter on the ‘rise and decline of Security Council activism’ from 1990 until 1997 and another on Haiti’s history from 1492 until 1990. Over the five subsequent chapters (including a lengthy conclusion) he tackles his case by means of a lucid and well documented narrative. The conditions that permitted UN military action to change Haiti’s government were ‘singular’: a strong US interest in halting the influx of refugees, no expectation of significant military resistance, and wide regional support. Nevertheless, Malone concludes, the UN had never done anything like this before and a precedent had thus been created. This may, however, be less significant if it is also true, as he suggests, that Washington was permitted a UN cloak for this intervention ‘provided other major powers were given equal latitude in their own back yards’ (Roberts). There is, I fear, nothing new about this sort of thing.

Students of Security Council reform will find useful the short primer on this provided on pages 31 to 33. Those with an interest in multiparty mediation will find this book even more instructive, even though Malone has no interest in the bearing of his case on this particular subject. This aspect is thus best studied via the index references to ‘Caputo, Dante’ (who was OAS as well as UN Special Envoy for Haiti until his resignation in September 1994), ‘Group of Friends’, and ‘Carter mission’, chiefly in chapters 5 and 6. Jimmy Carter’s role is sympathetically treated.

David Malone’s book could have done with more ‘de-thesifying’, as the former Publishing Director of Macmillan’s Academic Division used to call it. Endmatter accounts for forty per cent of it even excluding the index. Chiefly endnotes – many of great interest – much of this might with advantage have been woven into the main text. The chapter summaries are perhaps also too long, there are too many long quotations, and the number of acronyms becomes slightly mind-numbing. The following sentence is not unusual: ‘However, solidarity with GRULAC, which continued to support UNMIH, led to NAM demarches on both Russia and China favouring UNMIH extension.’ Nevertheless, the author cannot be blamed for the titles that groups give themselves. His book remains accessible and of great value. As Adam Roberts says: ‘We need more such studies of how the UN Security Council actually works in crises, and how it interrelates to other institutions and processes.’

Decision-Making in the UN Security Council: The case of Haiti, 1990-19972019-10-14T20:28:44+01:00

The Diplomacies of New Small States: The case of Slovenia with some comparison(s) from the Baltics

Trsl. from Slovene by Maja Visenjak-Limon (Ashgate: Aldershot, etc., 2001), pp. 237, ISBN 0-7546-1706-8

Milan Jazbec is the State Secretary at the Ministry of Defence in Slovenia responsible for his ministry’s co-operation and preparations for integration with NATO. Unfortunately, I cannot be enthusiastic about his book, which is concerned chiefly with practical guidance for ‘new small states’ on setting up ‘diplomatic organisations’, i.e. MFAs and diplomatic and consular missions. The general subject is certainly well chosen, and the text contains some useful information, notably that, at least in the limited number of cases studied, women predominate among new diplomatic service recruits. However, the content is on the whole very ordinary and I cannot help feeling that it would have been better packaged as an in-house training manual. Besides, the sub-title is a more accurate guide to the book’s contents than the main one, it appears to have been translated by a non-native speaker of English, the copy editing and/or proof-reading was sloppy (there are five mistakes on the first page of the Acknowledgements alone), and there is no index.

The Diplomacies of New Small States: The case of Slovenia with some comparison(s) from the Baltics2019-10-14T20:28:45+01:00

Consular Law and Practice, 2nd edn

(Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1991) ISBN 0-19-825601-9, pp. 739 with index.

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The author of this book is a member of the US State Department’s Senior Executive Service, Chairman of the International Law Association Committee on the Legal Status of Refugees, and Adjunct Professor of Law at the American University. It is not a new book but is still available on demand from OUP (when you look at the price, though, who is holding the pistols is a moot point). The first edition was published in 1961, shortly before consular law was codified in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963), and the method of the second edition is correspondingly different in emphasis – deductive rather than inductive.

The book begins with short chapters on the historical evolution of consular practice, definitions, and classification. This is followed by three chapters on consular relations in general, fourteen chapters on different consular functions (e.g. passport and visa, marriage and divorce), fourteen chapters on privileges and immunities, and one chapter on honorary consuls. Lee’s magnum opus concludes with eight chapters on miscellaneous subjects (e.g. consuls and the UN). There are four appendices, eleven tables, and the usual table of cases.

This second edition of Consular Law and Practice was well received when first published, and rightly so. It is exhaustive, well organized, clearly written, and generally authoritative, which is just as well because there is no other detailed book on consular law currently available in English. As an historian and generalist rather than a lawyer, I found particularly useful chapters 7 (on consular functions generally), 21 (privileges and immunities), 23 (inviolability of consular premises), 27 (consular communications), and 35 (honorary consuls). I was less impressed by the chapter on ‘historical evolution’, where Lee reveals himself as unaware of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 (the ‘treaties’ to which he refers here were concluded with the Ottoman sultan, not with the ‘Byzantine Empire’) and gives, I think, quite disproportionate space to the rise and decline of extraterritoriality, important though this subject is. He also fails to draw here on the excellent book by D. C. M. Platt, The Cinderella Service: British Consuls since 1825 (Longman, 1971), which can still be picked up for a song in second-hand book shops – unlike Consular Law and Practice. I was also disappointed by the brevity of the chapter on ‘Consuls as Diplomats’ (36), though I suppose because this happens to touch on my own special interest in ‘talking to the enemy’. (Having said that, Lee makes the telling point either here or elsewhere in his book that the progressive blurring of the distinction between consuls and diplomats has been one of the factors contributing to a strengthening of consular immunities.) There is no bibliography, the index is too thin for a reference book of this size (lawyers seem to think that if they provide a table of cases they can get away with this), and the appendices are now redundant because (with the possible exception of the ‘recent consular treaties’) they are all available free of charge on the web. Which brings me to the price, £130.

Of course, publishers cannot be blamed for charging the maximum that they think they can obtain for their books – and thus for their authors as well as (chiefly) themselves. On its web site OUP lists the target readership of this book as ‘consular staff and officials, diplomats, international lawyers, and government employees’, and presumably Great Clarendon Street knows that either they or – more likely – their employers can afford this price. Students, it need hardly be pointed out, or academics for that matter, are not included in this list. However, I like to think that the teaching of diplomatic and consular law in the universities is increasing along with the increase in popularity of Diplomatic Studies, and that it would increase more quickly if some cheap books on the subject (one would be a start) were made available. An enlightened publisher would either do a cheap paperback edition or – as the broadsheet newspapers do with their own products – sell at a heavy discount to bona fide students. This might even turn out to be enlightened self-interest. A cheap edition of this book could be produced not only by bringing it out in paperback but by jettisoning chapter 1 and the appendices.

Consular Law and Practice, 2nd edn2019-10-14T20:28:45+01:00

The system of privileges and immunities applicable to the international organisations in Switzerland and to the permanent foreign delegations in Geneva

(Geneva, 1997) pp. 67; pamphlet in A4 format; available free on request (English, French or Spanish) from Ms Danielle Wertmueller

Amadeo Perez is Legal Adviser to the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the International Organisations in Geneva, and this booklet is therefore authoritative. It is a revised edition of an article published in the UNITAR Employment Guide by Jean-Pierre Vettovaglia in 1991. As will thus be clear, it is designed to provide a non-legalistic description of its subject for new members of the Geneva diplomatic corps, specifically, those on the staff of the international organizations headquartered there as well as those attached to the permanent missions accredited to them. It achieves this aim very comfortably, notably by spelling out with great clarity the different privileges available to different categories of staff, and should be carried in the hand-luggage of every diplomat newly arriving in Geneva. However, students of diplomatic law will also find the booklet useful, not least because of its good bibliography. The final chapter on ‘The “Diplomatic” Institutions’ also provides a useful introduction to the comparatively recent efforts of the Swiss Confederation and the Republic and canton of Geneva to smooth the relations between the Geneva authorities and citizens on the one hand, and its large community of diplomats on the other. It would be interesting to know a great deal more about the Mediator, the Geneva Welcome Center, and the Diplomatic Committee, and perhaps in any new edition Mr Perez could provide some guidance to further reading on these subjects – if there is any.

The system of privileges and immunities applicable to the international organisations in Switzerland and to the permanent foreign delegations in Geneva2019-10-14T20:28:45+01:00

Herding Cats: Multiparty Mediation in a Complex World

(United States Institute of Peace Press: Washington, D.C., 1999) ISBN 1-878379-92-5, pp. 735 with index.

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This massive book is divided into three main parts, each of the chapters in which is a case study of a particular mediation written by an individual who played a key role in it. The three parts correspond roughly with a central concept of the book, the ‘conflict cycle’. Thus the first part deals with cases of conflict prevention and management, for example ‘Canada and the Crisis in Eastern Zaire’ (Gordon Smith and John Hay). The second covers instances of the ending of violent conflict, such as ‘The Road to Madrid’ (James Baker). And the third treats cases of settlement and implementation, for example ‘The Oslo Accord’ (Jan Egeland). Each of the chapters is preceded by a summary of the background to the conflict in question, providing a list of the major actors, important dates, key agreements reached, and principal outcomes.

According to the editors of this book, ‘multiparty mediation’ refers to ‘attempts by many third parties to assist peace negotiations in any given conflict’. Though not a new phenomenon, this certainly has been a prominent feature of international mediation in recent years. It has also long been clear that multiparty mediation may well bring disadvantages as well as advantages, and that it always produces a need for co-ordination. However, the world being what it is, achieving this is as difficult as ‘herding cats’, as the editors of this book suggest. It is because it seeks not only to understand this subject but also systematically distil practical lessons from a vast range of recent experience that their book is important. Having said that, it is perhaps in the rich and extensive primary source material contained in the ‘practitioner’ chapters (themselves full of general reflections) that the real value of this work lies, rather than in the general analysis with which it is introduced and concluded by the editors. This general analysis, while in parts suggestive, itself bears the marks of having been painfully negotiated. Chapter 3, which appears to be little more than elaborated minutes of an ‘informal one-day meeting’ of some of the contributors, can be safely ignored.

The editors are immediately in trouble with their concept of multiparty mediation, which is surely far too elastic. Thus mediation is not only ‘multiparty’ when two or more mediators are simultaneously involved in a mediation exercise, and however significant their involvement. It also merits this description if they participate one after the other or, as they put it, ‘sequentially’. Mediation is even ‘multiparty mediation’ if the mediation is conducted by a ‘composite actor’ such as an intergovernmental organization (for example, the UN) or coalition.

This version of multiparty mediation is shot through with problems. Even the notion that it embraces simultaneous assistance to a mediation by two or more parties is not straightforward. This alone covers three distinct possibilities: first, unco-ordinated, competitive mediations, in which rival brokers seek the sole ‘contract’, as in the early stages of the Sino-American rapprochement at the beginning of the 1970s; secondly, collective mediations, in which responsibility is formally shared between equals (the ‘contact group’ approach); and thirdly, a mediation charged to one party which is nevertheless supported by a group of ‘friends’. It is consistent with customary usage to describe the first two as examples of multiparty mediation, though the differences between them are considerable. But as for the third, which is obviously the mode of mediation that the editors (rightly) prefer, if the ‘cats’ are successfully ‘herded’, to what extent is this still a ‘multiparty’ mediation? Chester Crocker now modestly refers to the Angola/Namibia mediation that culminated in 1988 as a ‘multiparty mediation’, though, as I recall, he didn’t use this language at the time, when he was US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and had acknowledged leadership of these highly successful negotiations. On this point, I am more inclined to agree with Alvaro de Soto, whose acute, succinct, and sometimes droll account of his role as the UN Secretary-General’s personal representative in the successful mediation of the civil war in El Salvador is one of the gems of this collection. When the parties to a conflict give a single body responsibility for taking the lead in its mediation, such a mediation remains a single mediation, he notes, however well supported it is by other third parties. To call the last kind of mediation a ‘multiparty mediation’ not only obscures the vital difference in influence between the lead state or organization and the other third parties but encourages belief in the very chaos that the editors of this volume are themselves so anxious to eliminate. He adds that collective mediations, which certainly are multiparty mediations, usually do not work.

The notion that ‘sequential’ mediation is multiparty mediation as well also leaves me uneasy. This is because there is a world of difference between successive single attempts to mediate a settlement to a conflict that are random and unconnected, and those that consist of deliberate ‘hand-offs’ by one mediator to another. It is true that it is the latter circumstance that the editors appear to have chiefly in mind, especially when the hand-offs occur at watersheds in the life cycle of a conflict when different kinds of mediator may be more appropriate. (This is illustrated in this book by the chapter on Haiti in the early 1990s. Here, responsibility for the mediation started with the OAS, then shifted to the UN, and finally – when the threat of real force seemed necessary – came to rest with the United States.) It seems reasonable to describe this as multiparty mediation. But the point is that not all ‘sequential’ mediation is ‘multiparty mediation’. If it were, the concept of single mediation would be virtually obliterated.

As for the idea that mediation by a ‘composite actor’ like an intergovernmental organization is by definition multiparty mediation, the trouble with this is that it assumes what has to be proved. It is certainly an accurate description of a mediation in which leading members of an intergovernmental body in practice play an active role and its secretary-general becomes little more than another member of the team. This seems to have been the case with the OAS role in the Haiti crisis already mentioned, when seven foreign ministers plus a senior State Department official and the OAS secretary-general jumped on a plane from Washington to Port-au-Prince and ‘cobbled together’ their negotiating strategy during the flight (p. 393). However, where the United Nations is concerned, Alvaro de Soto firmly and convincingly rejects the notion that mediation conducted by the secretary-general or his representative is ‘multiparty mediation’ simply because it operates under the authority of the fifteen member Security Council. ‘The Security Council’, he tells us, ‘sometimes lays down principles and parameters for negotiation, such as, for example, those that guide the secretary-general in the Cyprus talks. But it rarely involves itself in the nuts and bolts, which as a practical matter must be the domain of the secretary-general acting somewhat as the United Nations’ agent. The Security Council, when it comes to conflict resolution by negotiation,’ Alvaro de Soto concludes, ‘is board rather than manager, certainly not micromanager’.

Multiparty mediation, then, is probably best defined as mediation in which two or more parties are significantly involved, whether co-operatively or competitively, and in which none is formally the acknowledged leader. If their activity is co-operative, the mediation may be simultaneous or sequential; if competitive, it must be simultaneous. What is the balance sheet of multiparty mediation discernible from this book? On the plus side, different kinds of third party have different assets and their willingness to come forward thus maximises opportunities to ‘gain entry’ to a conflict. Related to this, multiparty mediation can bring great pressure to bear on the parties to settle their differences – and observe any agreement reached. It can also make it easier to re-shape the regional or even global situation in a manner conducive to settlement of the local conflict in question. In so far as multiparty mediation embraces track two mediation, it can also help to build ‘supportive constituencies within society’. On the negative side, multiparty mediation can cause confusion and thereby invite ‘forum shopping’. In the transitional period between conclusion of an agreement and its subsequent implementation, hand-offs from one third party to another are invariably plagued with misunderstandings and conflicting interpretations. Finally, where a multiparty mediation is genuinely collective, ‘diluted responsibility’ may lead to ‘buck passing and blame avoidance’.

I wish to argue with no part of this balance sheet because it is in light of this that the editors conclude that leadership in any mediation is essential and ‘multiparty’ support for it extremely valuable. These conclusions rest on well established axioms of politics. Perhaps it is because the editors are American and because in the modern world American leadership proves so often to be necessary to conclude a mediation successfully, that they are just a little diffident at expressing the first of these axioms in the positive manner that it demands. Thus, what they say only indirectly is that the clear allocation of responsibility to one party alone is uniquely energizing. This is because not only will it take all the blame for failure but all the credit for success. The trouble is that by arguing in this fashion they are arguing for single party rather than multiparty mediation. Perhaps the only effective ‘multiparty’ mediation is an orchestrated sequence of single mediators.

Herding Cats: Multiparty Mediation in a Complex World2019-10-14T20:28:45+01:00

Frontline Diplomacy: The U.S. Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection on CD-ROM

(ADST: Arlington, VA, 2000). (PC only).

Available to non-member individuals at $145, and to institutions/corporations at $475 (offline use) or $800 (networked use).

The ADST is a private, non-profit organization whose mission is ‘to spread knowledge about the practice and history of modern American diplomacy’. To this end, its Oral History Project, created in 1985 under the direction of former Consul-General Stuart Kennedy, has devoted considerable resources to conducting, recording, and editing interviews with retired members of the US Foreign Service, among others. The CD-ROM under review here is the fruit of this project. It contains the transcripts of 893 interviews in one single, master database. (Of these, 28 are with women ambassadors and ‘conducted from a sociological perspective’.) With such a number it is hardly surprising that it covers US relations with almost every state in the world over the post-Second World War period – and in some cases earlier. The interviews are autobiographical in structure, dealing briefly with the subject’s education and entry into the Foreign Service, and then concentrating (chronologically) on his or her postings abroad or positions in Washington. There is also a second database in which passages extracted from the interviews are grouped together under country headings. These ‘country readers’, of which there are 48 altogether, facilitate the task of a researcher interested in a particular state rather than a particular individual. In addition to this, the CD-ROM has a powerful search engine and a variety of other useful tools. It is also a simple task to print out either whole interviews or (particularly useful) selections from them. There is an easy-to-follow 13-page tutorial that is devoted chiefly to the search engine. Users of the CD-ROM who still have difficulties are invited to contact ADST via its web site.

There is no doubt that this is a fantastic bank of primary source data for anyone interested in post-war international affairs and for international historians and students of diplomacy in particular. To individuals it also comes at no more than the cost of a single book from the law list of the Clarendon Press (well under this for one from Kluwer). It is true that there are minor irritants. The font size is rather small, which makes extended reading on screen directly from the databases rather trying. (However, this can be increased by reducing the number of pixels on the PC’s desktop display, and text can in any case be imported into Word and then manipulated at will.) It is also a pity that only 48 countries get ‘readers’. Researchers whose particular states are omitted may complain, though the handicap is comparatively trivial. I was at first disappointed to find no country reader on Afghanistan because I wanted to obtain information on the nature of the US mission retained in Kabul between 1979 and 1989, when it was finally closed. In view of the murder of the US Ambassador in Kabul, Spike Dubbs, early in 1979 and the impact on relations with the United States of the subsequent Soviet invasion, I was also a little surprised at this omission. Nevertheless, using the list of ‘Foreign Service Postings’ in the excellent ‘Research Guide’, as well as the search engine itself, it was not difficult to find what I wanted.

What is immediately impressive about the CD-ROM is the detail it contains, a lot of it very frank. Perhaps this is in part because the Project’s interviews are conducted chiefly by persons who are themselves retired Foreign Service Officers. They know what questions to ask, have the respect of the subjects, and obviously have no difficulty in conveying that they are on the same side. The interviews are not brief affairs, either, most of them clearly having taken place over several two-hour sittings, and some having gone up to ten. It is also of great value that many of the subjects spent their careers in consular work or held relatively minor positions. What we get, then, is a great deal of information and private opinion – on a vast range of issues and events – from persons whose autobiographies would not otherwise have seen the light of day. It is, of course, impossible to do a proper review of this huge resource. I have barely done more than dip into it. However, I have already found invaluable evidence on obscure topics and find using the search engine quite compulsive. I recommend this CD-ROM with great enthusiasm.

Frontline Diplomacy: The U.S. Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection on CD-ROM2019-10-14T20:28:45+01:00

Yes, (Saudi) Minister! A Life in Administration

(The London Centre of Arab Studies, 1999), ISBN 1-900404-17-6.

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After a brilliant ministerial career in Riyadh, Algosaibi fell from grace at the Ministry of Health in 1984. This was the start of his diplomatic life, which commenced in Bahrain and continued in London. This is a shrewd and lively book. I particularly enjoyed the hilarious account of his doctoral studies in the 1960s under John Burton at UCL and his impromptu viva with Burton and Vatikiotis. With narrow-eyed apparatchiki of the ‘quality’ industry now stalking the campuses, there will no doubt be immense relief in Gower Street that this sort of eccentricity is now (regrettably) a thing of the past. Students of diplomacy, however, will probably only want to look at chapter 13, in which Algosaibi provides an account of his tenure as head of the Saudi mission in Bahrain. It is a pity that at the time of writing he was able to say nothing about his ambassadorship in London, though it is clear that his general reflections on diplomacy are informed by this experience as well. The comparison that he offers between the influence and activism of ‘Western ambassadors’ on the one hand and the general insignificance and passivity of ‘Arab ambassadors’ on the other is particularly instructive. So much for generalizations about ‘the role of the ambassador’ in modern diplomacy. I look forward to Ghazi Algosaibi’s full autobiography with keen anticipation.

Yes, (Saudi) Minister! A Life in Administration2019-10-14T20:28:45+01:00

Journeying Far and Wide: A Political and Diplomatic Memoir

(Scribner’s: New York, 1992), ISBN 0-684-19350-7, 352pp with index.

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Kaiser was an active Democrat and ‘noncareer officer’ in the US Foreign Service under three Democratic presidents: Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter. His memoir, which is uncluttered with the trivial detail sometimes found in this genre and written with great verve, will be valued by diplomatic historians of the whole period since the Second World War. (Kaiser had served earlier as Assistant Secretary of Labor for International Affairs in the Truman administration.) Students of diplomacy will also find it of interest, and for us chapters 6-9 are probably the most important. From 1961 until 1963 Kaiser was US ambassador to Senegal and Mauritania (chapter 6), and from 1964 until 1969 number two at the US embassy in London (chapter 7). With Nixon in the White House, Kaiser was out of the embassy but he remained in London, almost – it seems – as a political exile from Washington. Though earning his living as chairman and managing director of the British branch of Encyclopaedia Brittanica, he was also active in ‘Democrats Abroad’, and he received his reward when Jimmy Carter was elected president in 1976. First, he was sent as ambassador to Hungary (chapter 8), and then in 1980 as ambassador to Austria (chapter 9).

There is evidence on and in some cases discussion of many interesting general points concerning diplomacy in this vigorous memoir. For example, in his chapter on Africa Kaiser indirectly takes a well-aimed swipe at a fashionable canard by reporting Kennedy’s view that in fact the independence of an ambassador varies with postings: ‘There [Africa] … a chief of mission was on his own, in contrast to Bonn, Paris, and London, where the main business was done by telephone from Washington and through regular visits from the secretary of state and other top officials’ (p. 182). Later, however, with a convincing attack on the ‘arrogance’ of the Kissinger/Brzezinski doctrine that modern communications have made ambassadors obsolete (pp. 262-3), he makes abundantly clear his view that while Kennedy’s contrast is a good one it is somewhat overdrawn. And well he might, for it is in part no doubt as a result of this attitude that the Foreign Service, as he points out, is still ‘a stepchild’ of the government and attracts relatively meagre resources. And, with his bitterness thinly concealed, he notes that it receives this treatment despite being ‘the first line of national defense’. Indeed, Kaiser concludes his final main chapter with this striking paragraph: ‘We should not forget’, he writes, ‘that in the past thirty years, a period that included the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf conflict, more ambassadors have been killed than generals and admirals, and more Foreign Service employees have lost their lives than agents of the FBI’.

Among other points of general interest, Kaiser provides more evidence in the chapter on the London embassy on why US diplomats dread visitations by congressional delegations (pp. 247-8). In his account of his time in Hungary he also demonstrates that ambassadors are still sometimes heavily involved in important and sensitive negotiations, in this case notably MFN status and the question of the return to Hungary from the United States of the Crown of St. Stephen. Among other things, Kaiser had the task – which he performed successfully – of asking the Hungarian Communist leader, János Kádár, if he would mind absenting himself from Budapest on the day of the Crown’s homecoming. (I would like to have seen Brzezinski negotiate that over the telephone.) It is also extremely useful to have a close-up view of the attitudes and style of operation of the great Austrian statesman, Bruno Kreisky, and be reminded of the role that he sought to play in mediating an end to the Iran hostages crisis (pp. 314-16). While noting that Kreisky failed to secure the release of the US diplomats, Kaiser implies that he is entitled to some credit for the fact that none of them was put on trial in Teheran. Finally, Kaiser provides a very balanced analysis of the pros and cons of employing ‘noncareer ambassadors’ in the US Foreign Service, and is particularly outspoken in his condemnation of the rough treatment they invariably receive from incoming presidents of the opposite party. In 1981, Ronald Reagan’s administration ‘behaved more rudely than any predecessor’, giving Kaiser and his noncareer colleagues just two weeks to get out of their embassies. It is perhaps not altogether surprising that there is a sharp and refreshing edge to this particular diplomatic memoir.

Journeying Far and Wide: A Political and Diplomatic Memoir2019-10-14T20:28:45+01:00

A Selection of New diplomatic memoirs

Harry Brind, Lying Abroad: Diplomatic Memoirs (London/New York: 1999) pp. xi + 260.

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Richard Faber, A Chain of Cities: Diplomacy at the End of Empire (London/ New York: 2000) pp. vii + 224.

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Sally James, Diplomatic Moves: Life in the Foreign Service (London/New York: 1995) pp. xvii + 237. Henry Phillips, From Obscurity to Bright Dawn: How Nyasaland became Malawi – An Insider’s Account (London/New York: 1998) pp. xix + 252.

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Horace Phillips, Envoy Extraordinary: A Most Unlikely Ambassador (London/New York: 1995) pp. xv + 240.

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James Reeve, Cocktails, Crises and Cockroaches: A Diplomatic Trail (London/New York: 1999) pp. xv + 272. All published by The Radcliffe Press at £24.50.

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I have just written a review article on these six books of British diplomatic memoirs for the English Historical Journal, so here I shall just provide some notes on those that I believe to be most valuable to students of diplomacy. To begin with, though, I must register three complaints about this genre. First, I do wish that retired diplomats would in future resist the temptation to provide descriptions of the scenery observed on their travels. As a rule, they do not have the skills of travel writers and by indulging in this sort of thing merely bore the reader and suggest that they have nothing better to write about. Secondly, I urge that they eschew potted geography lessons (‘Malawi is a landlocked country…’) at the beginning of chapters introducing a fresh posting. I fear that this approach is based on the mistaken assumption that their volumes will fall into the hands of the general reader. Thirdly, it would be an impressive gesture of abstinence if we could also have a moratorium on the mind-numbing repetition of Sir Henry Wotton’s famous description of the ambassador as ‘an honest man, sent to lie abroad for the good of his country’. Even the excellent Richard Faber cannot resist plunging into Wotton immediately he enters upon a discussion of the moral qualities required of a professional diplomat (though it is true that his classical training permits him to provide an admirably sharp analysis of the distinction between what Wotton pretended to write and what he actually did write), while Brind actually wheels out Wotton again for the title of his own volume, Lying Abroad.

Faber, A Chain of Cities
As an admirer of Richard Faber’s much earlier book on Sir William Temple (The Brave Courtier, Faber & Faber, 1983), I was not surprised to find this volume standing out for its elegance, acuteness, and unusual honesty. Faber is valuable in providing insight into Foreign Office attitudes on Africa, especially West Africa, during the high period of decolonization. He was at the Paris embassy from 1955 until 1959 and there worked increasingly on African questions. For the next three years he was in the African Department in London, and this was followed by a short tour as head of chancery in the Ivory Coast. From 1967 until 1969 he was head of the Rhodesia Political Department, where he argued – half-heartedly – for complete disengagement.

Faber was the only unmarried diplomat in this sextet, and he observes that although he would have done the job better with a wife ‘whose heart was really in it’, there would have been no guarantee of this. ‘Single diplomats’, he concludes, ‘make better entertainers than wives who are absent, or indifferent or resentful.’ In his ‘Retrospect’, Faber also concludes that the disadvantages of the diplomatic career outweigh the advantages: ‘It was impossible to put down roots anywhere; one became a perpetual peregrine, even in one’s own country. It was extremely difficult to maintain friendships at home. The discipline of the profession – the constant need for tact and discretion – had an inhibiting, as well as a polishing, effect. Social life was so much a part of the job that one began to feel disgusted with it.’ He adds that the work also tends to swing between producing boredom and anxiety; it is weighed down with ‘a load of superiors, official, ministerial, political and public’; and success and failure are far more difficult to judge than in most other jobs. Among other observations, he says rightly that diplomats cannot serve their own states ‘properly in a foreign country unless they feel for that country a kind of loyalty too’; that though better communications are supposed to have reduced the influence of the ambassador by eliminating the frequent need to act without instructions, the same phenomenon also makes it ‘much easier now for ambassadors to advise their governments on what their instructions should be’ (emphasis added); and that British diplomacy should attach more importance to ‘understanding the psychology of foreign peoples’. Key reading : chapter 10 (‘Retrospect’).

Brind, Lying Abroad
Brind was unusually specialized in African postings, and the most interesting chapter in this book is his account of Uganda, where he was Deputy High Commissioner at the time when Amin unleashed his executioners and the expulsion of the Asians commenced. Key reading (on how a mission copes with an emergency affecting its local expatriate community and other passport-holders): chapter 4, Uganda: September 1971 to July 1973.

James, Diplomatic Moves
Sally James was a ‘diplomatic spouse’. Much emphasis here on the difficulty of the diplomatic career: its unpredictability, disruption of family life, and – in some posts – acute discomforts and sheer physical danger. After seven overseas postings between 1963 and 1989, her husband, Michael, left the Diplomatic Service well before retirement age. Having read her descriptions of life in Guyana and especially in Ghana, one is not surprised. Recorded in letters to her parents which are at once revealing and engaging, the flavour of Sally James’s experience is captured in this typical parting shot – ‘Must stop, and go to the airport to give this to a departing businessman to post in London’.

Phillips, Envoy Extraordinary
A particularly cunning way of preventing diplomats from ‘going native’ in Arab states is to send them Jewish ones. A case in point is this Jewish working class boy from Glasgow whose industry, intelligence and aptitude for hard languages enabled him to be an early beneficiary of the Eden-Bevin reforms of entrance procedures for the Foreign Service introduced towards the end of the Second World War. In 1953 he was posted as first secretary and consul in Jedda, the FO, as he tells us, having taken the precaution of deleting his second name, ‘Hyman’, from his entry in the Foreign Office List. Unfortunately for Phillips, his appointment as ambassador to Saudi Arabia fifteen years’ later had to be aborted when the Jewish Chronicle ran a story on it and King Feisal, who had apparently been unaware that Phillips was Jewish, withdrew agrément. Nevertheless, Phillips was head of other important missions (Indonesia, Tanzania, and Turkey at the time of the ‘intervention’ in Cyprus in 1974). Key reading (on role of ambassador generally): chapter 16.

A Selection of New diplomatic memoirs2019-10-14T20:28:45+01:00

Inside Diplomacy

(Manas Publications: New Delhi, 2000), 455pp. with Index, ISBN 81-7049-102-2.

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This is a book on diplomacy in general and the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) in particular. It is also a gem, and a large gem. It breathes life, wisdom, and good humour, and is full of rich detail. I found it thoroughly absorbing. Students of diplomacy at all stages of their careers will find it immensely useful, while those in a position to influence the future shape of the IFS will discover a whole raft of constructive suggestions for reform fearlessly advanced.

Kishan Rana served without interruption in the Indian Foreign Service from 1960 until he retired in 1995 after three years as Ambassador in Germany. He specialized in economic diplomacy and – early on – in Chinese affairs. He seems to have seen all sides of the career and most continents, and in his retirement is now working as a business advisor, columnist, and occasional teacher at the Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi.

His book has nineteen chapters on all aspects of diplomacy, including economic diplomacy (of course), cultural diplomacy, consular work (with a related chapter towards the end on the Indian diaspora), summitry, multilateral diplomacy, the ministry of external affairs, missions abroad, and the relations between diplomats and the media. Though extremely well done, the subjects of these chapters are predictable. One of the great strengths of Kishan Rana’s book, however, is that it also contains chapters on important subjects which much less frequently receive sustained textbook analysis. Thus there are really quite full chapters on diplomatic training, the diplomatic inspectorate, properties owned or leased by the IFS abroad (Jane Loeffler please note), and the domestic roles of the foreign ministry. The substantial section on ‘The Diplomatic Corps’ in the chapter on ‘Missions Abroad’ is also original and particularly interesting.

Inside Diplomacy has many important themes. Among these the most prominent is the need for a comprehensive review of the ‘entire Indian diplomatic apparatus’, which Rana argues has done well but could do better. To do this it must work more through strongly institutionalized practices rather than through strong individuals, significantly improve its personnel policies, and introduce as a matter of urgency a proper inspectorate. Among the remaining themes, the one which caught my eye and aroused my sympathy was the claim that exaggerated importance has been attached in India (and by implication elsewhere) to multilateral at the expense of bilateral diplomacy.

To find a downside to this book is difficult. Straining to find something, I will say only that I cannot share Kishan Rana’s dismay at the absence of Chanakya’s Arthashastra from the curriculum of the Indian diplomatic profession, or that of any other diplomatic profession for that matter. (When he reads my entry on Chanakya – under his alternative name, Kautilya – in the forthcoming Dictionary of Diplomacy he may never e-mail me again!) I also found the book’s Index somewhat slender for a work of this length and more interested in flagging up proper names than diplomatic concepts, procedures, and institutions. But these are quibbles. In my opinion this is the best general work on practical, contemporary diplomacy which is currently available.

Inside Diplomacy2019-10-14T20:28:45+01:00

Born a Foreigner: A Memoir of the American Presence in Asia

(Rowman and Littlefield: Lanham and Oxford, 1999), pp. 281, ISBN 0-8476-9469-0.

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This is the eighth volume in the ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Series, and is a very solid addition to it. Cross, who was born of missionary parents in Beijing, spent 32 years in the US Foreign Service, and though his tours abroad included Egypt, Cyprus and London, most were in Asia and it is on these which this memoir concentrates. He served in Indonesia and Malaysia, and in Vietnam (where he was chief of pacification efforts in I Corps) during the critical years 1967 to 1969. Thereafter he was ambassador to Singapore from 1969 to 1972 (where he fell foul of Lee Kuan Yew), consul-general in Hong Kong from 1974 to 1977 (because of the ‘China-watching’ brief of this mission, much more important than it sounds), and finally the first director of the so-called ‘American Institute in Taiwan’ from 1979 to 1981. This last diplomatic post was an even more significant position since it made Cross de facto ‘ambassador’ to an important friend still smarting from Washington’s recent withdrawal of recognition from it as the legitimate government of the whole of China. Because the posting was ‘unofficial’, Cross was required to ‘retire’ from the Foreign Service before taking it up. Some early retirement!

The author has an engaging style and his book will rarely fail to hold the interest of anyone interested in the history of America’s post-war relations with Asia. As for students of diplomacy, they will find him particularly instructive on, among other things, the role of the political officer (chapters 10 and 12) and the desk officer in the State Department (chapter 11), the information-gathering value of a strategically placed consular mission (chapters 8 and 18 on the US consulate-general in Hong Kong), and the kind of devices to which states resort in order to conduct resident diplomacy with entities which they are unable to recognize (in addition to the American Institute in Taiwan already mentioned and dealt with at length in chapter 19, the PRC’s use of the office of the New China News Agency in Hong Kong, pp. 237-8).

Born a Foreigner: A Memoir of the American Presence in Asia2019-10-14T20:28:45+01:00

Making Foreign Policy: A Certain Idea of Britain

(John Murray Publishers, 2000), ISBN 0-7195-6046-2, Pp. 224, Index, price UK £17.99.

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In the course of his distinguished diplomatic career Sir John Coles worked in the Cabinet Office and was Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. At the time of his retirement in 1997 he was concluding over three years as Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office. His views on the problems now faced by British foreign policy-making and what might be done to correct them, which it is the main object of this book to present, thus demand close attention.

According to Sir John, both foreign and domestic policy-making now suffer from unprecedented time pressures. This is because higher priority is now attached to the second order activities of management and policy presentation, and because the work-load has been increased further by the complexity of modern government, the speed of communications, and the huge growth in information. However, when to this is added the fact that foreign policy-making is uniquely hampered by the unpredictability of its environment and, in Britain’s case, further impaired by a traditional wooliness about the country’s proper role abroad, it should not be surprising, he says, that there is now concern about its quality. Though Sir John does not think that foreign policy-making in Britain has been all that bad, he concedes that its critics have a case, and the most stimulating sections of his book are to be found where – strongly influenced by recent Australian practice – he suggests what is to be done.

Clear objectives should be set in an annual White Paper so that the state’s foreign policy can be easily understood and its success measured. This ‘mission statement’ should reflect an idea of Britain not as a middle power but as ‘a major European power with global interests and responsibilities’. Foreign Secretaries should be kept in post for longer periods. Overload should be dealt with by bureaucratic devices such as ‘away-days’, freeing Permanent Secretaries of management responsibilities altogether, relaxing the pressure on ministers and senior officials to master the details of all policies by publicising the fact that they cannot and should not be expected to do this, and cutting back on summitry. More time and resources should be found for long-term planning. More money should be spent on Britain’s representation overseas, and the decline in the importance of the geographical departments in the FO should be arrested. The importance of the diplomat’s ‘political work’, which he says is ‘the essential foundation of foreign policy-making’, should also be acknowledged. Finally, says Sir John, more ways should be found of listening to outside advice.

Anyone who has suffered in a British university from the dead-head culture of managerialism will wince at some of the expressions used in this book. They will not need to be told, either, that recourse to a ‘mission statement’ is a sure sign that the institution in question has lost its way. Nevertheless, I would like to think that Sir John Coles uses this language with tongue in cheek, and to the substance of what he says I reply on all counts: ‘Amen’. This is an elegant, shrewd, and measured book which should be widely read.

Students of diplomacy will find particularly useful his chronological survey of the various official reviews of British foreign policy and diplomacy conducted since the Second World War (ch. 3); his defence of current practice, including the existing level of overseas representation and political work (ch. 4, and esp. pp. 141-52); his doubts about ‘preventive diplomacy’ (pp. 115-16); his observations on the shifting balance between geographical and functional departments in the FO (pp. 118-20, 147); and his forlorn attack on summitry (pp. 136-7).

Making Foreign Policy: A Certain Idea of Britain2019-10-14T20:28:45+01:00
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