Global Diplomacy: Sample


Sampled below is the Introduction from Global Diplomacy: Theories, Types, and Models, First Edition, by Alison Holmes with J. Simon Rofe.


Click here for more information about Global Diplomacy.

Request an examination copy of the book

This text is copyright © 2016 by WESTVIEW PRESS

Please be aware that this is not the final manuscript—some typos and grammatical errors may be present—but we hope that this advance look will help you determine whether the content and writing style will appeal to you and your students.


Sample Download

Download a PDF of this sample by clicking the thumbnail below:

Table of Contents



ALISON HOLMES, Humboldt State University

Structure of the Text
Global Diplomacy


1 Diplomatic Practice

J. SIMON ROFE, SOAS, University of London

‘Traditional’ Power and Diplomacy
Fit for Purpose: Process of Diplomacy
Diplomats, Embassies, and Ministries of Foreign Affairs
Tactics through Time
Technology and Diplomacy
References and Further Reading

2 The Classic Story of Diplomacy

J. SIMON ROFE, University of London/SOAS

The State of the State
Treaty of Westphalia
‘New’ Diplomacy
Classic Theories of Diplomacy
References and Further Reading

3 A Different Kind of ‘New’ Diplomacy

ALISON HOLMES, Humboldt State University

‘New’ Diplomacy and Its Problems
Diplomacy without the (Westphalian) State
Alternative Views
English School
Revised English School
Sources of Power
Alternative States and Diplomacies
References and Further Reading

CROSS SECTION 3.1 Diplomacy Timeline



ALISON HOLMES, Humboldt State University

Time and Its Impact on Views of History
Diplomatic Practice
Types over Time Diplomacies of Place
References and Further Reading

4 Diplomacy and Politics

KENNETH WEISBRODE, European University Institute

A Broader Definition
Order and Governance
The Shape of Diplomacy
References and Further Reading

CROSS SECTION 4.1 The Mandala, Politics, and Territory

5 Trade, Diplomacy, and the Evolving Global Economy


Introduction: Millennia of International Trade as Diplomacy
The Diplomacy of Trade Liberalization
The Institutionalization of Economic Diplomacy
Judicialization and Future Transformations
References and Further Reading

CROSS SECTION 5.1 Byzantium: Trade and Culture

6 Cultural Diplomacy

GILES SCOTT-SMITH, Leiden University

Purposes and Application
References and Further Reading

CROSS SECTION 6.1 China Zhou Dynasty: Culture and Confucius Meet Military Might

7 Defense and Intelligence Diplomacy


The Nature and Character of Defense and Intelligence Diplomacy: Simplicity and Complexity
Defense and Intelligence Diplomacy in Peacetime
Defense and Intelligence Diplomacy in Crises
Defense and Intelligence Diplomacy in Times of War and Conflict
Defense and Intelligence Diplomacy in the Context of Domestic Politics
References and Further Reading

CROSS SECTION 7.1 India: Chandragupta and Chanakya, Military Strategy and Political Power

8 The European Tradition of Diplomacy: Alliances, Coalitions, and Professional Diplomats

SHAUN RIORDAN, International College Spain, Madrid

The Diplomatic Corps
Network and Coalition Disruption
National Security Strategy
Key Events in the Evolution of European Diplomacy
References and Further Reading


ALISON HOLMES, Humboldt State University

References and Further Reading



ALISON HOLMES, Humboldt State University

References and Further Reading

9 The European States-System: The Community and Transatlantic Models

ALISON HOLMES, Humboldt State University

Where is ‘the West’?
The European Community and the Community of Europe
Transatlantic Diplomacy
From Europe to Everywhere?
References and Further Reading

10 A Relational Model of Diplomacy

ALISON HOLMES, Humboldt State University

Structure: The hegemony of hierarchy and the possibility of heterarchy
The Indian and Chinese States-Systems Combine In a Relational Model
Politics, Culture, Economics, and the Military in the Relational Model
Features of the Relational Model
The Relational Model and ‘Classic’ Theories
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Relational Model
Asia vs.? Europe
References and Further Reading


ALISON HOLMES, Humboldt State University

About the Guest Authors



Surely, the first question a text ought to address is why a student might want to study the topic? Does it help them understand a specific issue or the world more generally? Does it explain what has happened in the past or the direction of current events? Is it relevant to daily life or to future plans? Judged in this light, the study of diplomacy may not seem particularly salient. This may be because the term is often used in ways that are either so broad (‘she was very diplomatic about her friend’s dress’) or so far removed from our own experience (‘the secretary of state had diplomatic talks with the King of Oman’) that we have little sense of the underlying importance and potential significance for diplomacy in today’s world. Material from scholarly papers and newspapers, to websites and blogs, use terms such as ‘contemporary’ or ‘globalizing’ to describe diplomacy as a whole, or modifiers such as ‘dollar,’ ‘digital,’ and ‘ping-pong’ diplomacy in terms of specific tactics, but these are often designed more for grabbing headlines than for explaining diplomacy’s long-term activities or purpose. This leaves little room for understanding what the subject involves out in the world and less for what we might study in a classroom. We hear more about the abstract concept of globalization than we do about the mechanisms that govern us at the international or global level, and the people who operate at that level as diplomats or other agents of change. However, with an interest in globalization, also comes an interest in the connection between issues and the way in which individuals can create impact at the international level. The divisions between the traditional levels of analysis, be it the individual, the state they operate in, or the international arena, seem to be breaking down. This highlights a gap in our understanding of international relations as well as an opportunity to go beyond the more common interpretation of diplomacy as simply the ‘peacemakers’ or ‘peace-keepers’ of a system, and examine more carefully the role of diplomacy in a world where power is shifting and politics, economics, and culture are ever more intertwined. Paul Sharp has identified an increase in interest in diplomacy and suggests two reasons for this trend. The first is “the growing sense that the distribution of power and wealth is shifting.” The second is a “concomitant sense that the ways in which we represent ourselves to one another are also undergoing change” (Sharp, et. al., 2011, 716). Sharp believes this leads to an interest in diplomacy because it is the institutional means by which societies deal with their sense of uncertainty about change and the way they interact and communicate with others to act on, and affect that change. This text agrees and proposes two further points. First, diplomacy is a fundamental activity that has been undertaken throughout history and around the world with a single goal: to mediate the intercultural communication that underlies the connections between all people and all societies. This includes peace and war, trade and exchange, but also a growing awareness of our intercultural interactions at every level. For this reason, it becomes increasingly important to also broaden our ideas of diplomacy and ask ourselves if it is actually more accurate to suggest that, rather than a single or monolithic idea of diplomacy, entirely different diplomacies are produced by other worldviews as evidence in their approach to statecraft or the ‘art’ of politics or the leadership of a country and the conduct public or foreign affairs. Second, that diplomacy is all around us. Many different people engage in what can be broadly thought of as ‘diplomacy,’ from the ‘global’ to the ‘local’ level, and these commonly used modifiers challenge us to explore our fundamental notion of who is involved and whether we have been focusing so much on the units or actors involved in the process, that we have not paid enough attention to the importance of the actual relations that influence and shape the units through the process of their interaction. Returning to the question of ‘Why study diplomacy?’—the answer proposed here is, because even people who may not be involved in ‘official’ or ‘formal’ diplomacy, but who care about global issues such as human rights, the environment, trade, and development, or those who simply love to travel and appreciate foreign cultures and languages, will find that an understanding of the development of diplomacy and its role in our contemporary society will help them to understand, participate in, and change our increasingly global world.


Diplomacy is often taught as one element of another course. It may be covered in a week or two in a world politics or international relations class, talked about in a few chapters in an international law class, or condensed in a politics class or an international studies or global studies program. This is because the more formal or academic study of diplomacy is considered to be part of the disciplines of political science or, more specifically, international relations, and both of these fields have some terms and concepts that will be useful to discuss prior to moving forward—not least as many of these concepts will be challenged by a more global approach to diplomacy discussed here.

Paradigms and Theories

Like all disciplines, international relations has a series of theories or patterns identified as paradigms. Paradigms are important for the fundamental reason that they have real-world consequences as reflections of an underlying world-view. By understanding theory as a particular worldview and set of rules by which we decide something is important or unimportant in our approach, and paradigms as a commonly agreed upon set of theories, we begin to see the significance of theory not only in terms of our framework for various questions, but also to possible solutions and policy outcomes to serious issues. To use a simple analogy, let’s say a worldview is like a pair of glasses and theories are different-colored lenses or lenses with different levels of magnification. It is obvious that, even if the frame remains constant, the theories we look through change how, and even what, we see. For international relations, there are two dominant paradigms, realism and liberalism, sometimes called pluralism. If we believe the theorists called realists, that human nature is basically selfish and unchangeable and that people will always take every opportunity to maximize their own interests above everything else, our reaction to their behavior might be defensive or even preemptive. A sense of: ‘do it to them before they can do it to us’ becomes an important part of the decision-making process. On the other hand, if we agree with liberals or pluralists, who believe in liberal internationalism and that people are basically good and trying to do the best they can, we might respond very differently. We might give them the benefit of the doubt in an unclear situation or allow them extra time to comply with some agreement. Just as our underlying ‘theories’ about human nature change how we respond to people at the individual level, the argument follows that our ‘theories’ of the international system as to how actors such as states, inter-governmental organizations and single-issue campaign organizations behave, can put us into a specific paradigm and fundamentally alter the outcomes in international affairs.

Entities and ‘states’

This raises another key assumption of international relations and diplomacy which is the fact that most of the study in this area has focused on the actor generally considered to be the ‘most important,’ i.e., the state. However, given that later chapters will argue that the ‘state’ was not the only form of social organization or source of diplomacy throughout time, it is important to note the use of the term ‘entity’ and ‘polity’ rather than ‘state’ or government’ in this chapter and elsewhere. These are not elegant words, but they are needed to discuss the infrastructure of all human communities as they have evolved through different forms and social structures or what has been termed a “band-tribe-chiefdom-state model of social complexity” (Crumley, 1995). These take many shapes and can be a group of elders or a council, agencies, bodies or institutions, but form a group with authority ‘over’ aspects of their society. The crucial point here is that such structures provide the framework for the way a society conceives of, and articulates, power, both over itself and the connections that each society makes to the wider world. The expression of this mediation internally may be called ‘government’ or ‘governance,’ while externally, this mediation is most often known as ‘diplomacy.’ Thus, the terms ‘entity’ or ‘polity’ are used as a way to remind ourselves that while these structures were not always states as we understand them today, societies have always had a constant need for the tools and conventions, if not the formal institution of what we call diplomacy or diplomacies of separate international systems.

National Interest and Strategy

Returning to terminology, an understanding of strategy as an overall plan or policy to achieve a primary or fundamental goal (often deemed to be survival, and therefore a term considered to be military in nature) is also useful, particularly in the more traditional, or more realist, Westphalian/state-centric understanding of politics. This term is also closely related to what is known as national interest, a concept that both politicians and scholars, believe to be the overarching and most important driver in determining a course of action of a state’s ‘foreign policy.’ These terms are often used interchangeably, which can be confusing, though, in the context of government behavior, ‘strategy’ is often related to military planning while ‘national interest’ tends to be almost so inclusive as to refer to whatever a speaker deems it to mean in a specific instance. For example, the concept of national interest not only frames political debate at home, it can also shape the way states interpret the behavior of others as they ask ‘What response is in our best interest?’ or ‘What do we learn about what that country sees as their real national interest by their decision to do X in this situation?’ National interest is usually reserved for government purposes, but strategy is commonly used outside these political circles, though no less broadly. Few organizations would admit they have no ‘strategy,’ but what they perceive it to be, how they agree on one, and how it comes to be implemented are entirely different things.

This idea also raises another important tension as many writers discuss ‘diplomacy’ and ‘foreign policy’ as synonymous concepts, while others strongly argue that politicians create strategy or policy while diplomats merely implement strategy as operators or administrators. This text takes a third position particularly in light of the traditional ‘split’ or ‘great divide’ that many international relations  scholars have proposed exists between domestic  or national/internal policy and foreign/external policy (Clark, 1999 and Hill, 2003). This division, while intended to help establish a clear distinction between questions that only matter ‘to us’ and those that involve ‘others,’ often creates more difficulties than it resolves. As the interconnected nature of global issues becomes more widely recognized, it is logical to assume that a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness between the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’ of the current political entities known as states is also needed. In other words, diplomats are engaged in the implementation of foreign policy on a daily basis, but what they do in terms of communication also helps to shape and direct strategy as well as to devise policy. Thus, the current dichotomy not only creates a false sense of firm boundaries for the entity, but it also creates an entity of a society within the ‘container’ of the state and separates two ideas that are entirely dependent on each other for existence while the process itself helps shape the outcome and the institution.

Hierarchy as ‘default’

The confusion in the priority or ‘order’ of these terms also raises a much deeper issue: the pervasiveness of the concept of hierarchy in our understanding of states and their interactions. Simply put, hierarchy is an expression of the relationship between elements where certain factors are deemed to be subordinate to another and may be ranked. However, and crucially here, it should also be recognized as another frame or worldview that is typically used by thinkers who are seeking to visualize ideas of order and to assert the relative importance of one area over another. Hierarchies can include institutions such as the military or a natural grouping such as a pride of lions that, in the interest of a perceived sense of order, devise a system that is generally respected and adhered to—though not entirely unchallenged—in the pursuit of what is deemed to be for the benefit of all. Such an understanding of power clearly includes different constructed and natural groups, but it is a particular (and culturally specific) way to structure knowledge that has become a default in much  western/European  thinking.  For  example,  most  Americans  would ‘order’ the world powers by putting the United States at, or very close to, the top. One could use a variety of reasoning for this placement, but physical size, power, military might, and economic strength are likely to feature in the list. Crucially, they also reflect an inbuilt default mechanism that suggests specific ideas about what constitutes power and the desirability of order. To balance this unconscious bias, it is also important to consider the alternative to hierarchy, or heterarchy, the idea that the same elements can be ranked or even ‘counterpoised’ in various ways determined by context and the players involved (Crumley, 1985). Examples of heterarchy include participants in a community event or leaves on a tree. There is a clear ‘order’ to the way they behave or interact, but they are not ordered by an external system or ranked in any formal way.

Hierarchy holds an assumed and fundamental default position in the mainstream/Western narrative of diplomacy, which helps to explain the perceived importance of national interest and strategy to be discussed later. Taken in conjunction with the primacy of the idea of anarchy—a situation in which there is no higher authority than the state—this desire for order puts survival or military issues in a ranking above all others. In contrast, heterarchy allows for different systems of order and opens the possibility that diplomacy is more than the shadow of power, but a shaping power as well.

Substantialist vs Relational

The issues around national interest and hierarchy are directly related to the ideas of scholars such as Patrick Jackson and Daniel Nexon who have argued that the substantialist tendency within international relations theory or the tendency to conflate an object with the outcomes of its actions, leads to a focus on the entity itself and not on its processes or interactions with others. They illustrate this problem by quoting Norbert Elias’s statement “the wind is blowing,” that seems to suggest that somehow the wind could exist separately from its effects ( Jackson and Nexon, 1999, 300). In their view, this ‘substantialist bias’ also means that we assume the entity in question existed ‘first’ or that entities are already entities before they enter into social relations with other entities” rather than being created and shaped by the process of interaction and suggest that the “most common of these presupposed entities is ‘the state’ ( Jackson and Nexon, 1999, 293).

An awareness of this issue may help us form a better appreciation of the problems we encounter when trying to identify the differences between strategy, national interest, foreign policy, and diplomacy and to recognize the default to hierarchy as both reflections of this substantialist tendency involving both theory and practice and almost despite the fact that “…most diplomats know…that world policy is deeply relational. Their job is to make those relations ‘work’…” (Adler-Nissen in Sending, Pouliot and Neumann 2105, 286) To address some of the issues, these authors propose the idea of Relationalism, which, like heterarchy, recognizes different forms and takes as its point of departure the idea that social phenomena making up world politics always develop in relation to other social phenomena. Thus, for example, “states are not born into this world as fully developed states that then ‘exist’; states are made in continuous relations with other states and non-state actors” (Adler-Nissen in Sending Pouliot and Neumann 2015, 286).

These authors, and others like them, are readjusting the focus or problematizing precisely the point that many simply assert; the increasing interconnectedness of the world requires that we examine the interactions and relations between entities rather than assuming the study of the units involved in the interaction is sufficient. Further, the need for such an adjustment seems clear as the relationship between a government and their own civil society—a government’s relationship to another government—and a government’s relationship to another country’s civil society, and even civil society’s relationship with other people in a different society become more visible in our global society. Thus, each relationship or interaction is ultimately part of a larger conversation, though crucially, each level is always seen from its own perspective. In other words, by removing the perception that the state is the only actor/form of governance, and breaking down the hierarchies embedded in statecraft around national interest, it may be possible to see that each of these layers can act and react to any other layer in another location without necessarily going through ‘official’ channels, or those with the ‘authority’ granted from a government source, before speaking to others. A more ‘global’ awareness recognizes that relations create the politics in which the units operate, as much as the entities or units create the relations. In much the same way the idea is to broaden the idea of a single form of diplomacy to many diplomacies, it will also be possible to expand on this concept of relations at different levels. Perhaps a more concrete example of this is in the case of the European Union as they grapple with issues such as migration or refugees in terms of what is ‘domestic’ vs what is ‘foreign’ at three levels: internal diplomacy (each state negotiating with Brussels and then explaining the resulting policy to their own citizens); ‘inner-national’ (the EU talking across the Union about its supranational activities); and the EU as a whole talking to the ‘outside’ (the EU talking to the United States or China or to other intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations or the African Union).

Structure of the Text

In light of these issues, this discussion of global diplomacy is structured in a specific way. First and foremost, the text argues that the essence of diplomacy has not fundamentally changed over time. Its characteristics have been altered by a number of important factors, many of them technological, and that these factors have, in turn, influenced both diplomatic practice and tactics. However, the nature of diplomacy, in terms of mission or strategy, remains communication in its three specifically diplomatic forms: dialogue, representation, and negotiation. Ultimately, the aim is to set out an idea of ‘global diplomacy’ that recognizes the role of diplomacy as an ancient institution separate, but arguably parallel to, the idea of the form of governance, and constantly evolving to reflect shifts in structure and power. Further, while the role and purpose of diplomacy have not shifted, we have not clearly understood the complexity of the cultural differences and resulting diplomacies at work or the institution of diplomacy and the role of diplomats as gatekeepers and guides of the sources of social power that create and recreate our world. The mainstream narrative of diplomacy has created an understanding that is  not  incorrect, but  incomplete. To make that case, four areas must first be explored in the three parts of the text.

First, a new theoretical frame for diplomacy is needed that focuses on the purpose of diplomacy as demonstrated through practice rather than simply as the delivery mechanism of the entity or polity. Thus, different theories of the international system and the role of diplomacy are used to propose a more global perspective.

Second, and unlike many traditional explanations, the argument will be made that diplomacy-as-dialogue goes back to the furthest reaches of history and is evidenced by the consistency of types of diplomacy over time and the ‘diplomacies of place.’

Finally, the effects of those different worldviews on the diplomacies of other regions of the world long before the ‘state’ or governments as we know them existed, will be examined and different models developed to help us focus on the way global states operate their own forms of diplomacy in today’s world.

The result is a more ‘global’ diplomacy that connects theory and practice by recognizing the relational nature of diplomacy and rejoining dichotomies rather than reinforcing the differences that have served as the traditional narrative and hindered more than helped our understanding of global relations and diplomacy’s role in them.

Decentering the Westphalian State and theories of diplomacy—Part I

The first step is to de-emphasize the state as the sole, or even the main, actor taking part in this dialogue and to re-emphasize the areas of practical diplomatic interaction across time. With scholars Donna Lee and David Hudson it becomes possible to consider diplomacy as an “open-ended-historical narrative” that sees diplomacy “as a means of connecting cultures, economics and states in order to build and manage social relations at domestic and systemic levels” (Lee and Hudson, 2004, 358). In their work, Lee and Hudson were primarily examining the importance of economic and cultural issues in light of the traditional focus on the political side, but this observation should be significantly expanded so as to create a more holistic approach. To this end, the view of sociologist Michael Mann (identified by Jackson and Nexon as being strongly against substantialism—Jackson and Nexon, 1999, 301) that “human societies are not unitary systems” and that to understand the development of the social world one must examine the “multiple, overlapping, intersecting networks of power” (Mann, 1986, 522), will be pursued.

This idea, combined with the assertion that there is a need to separate the institution of diplomacy from the entity that uses it so as to have a fuller understanding of its purpose and development, results in a more social/interactional approach. This will be done by breaking diplomacy along what Mann identifies as the four “sources” of “social power,” or what are called here the four types of diplomacy: political, cultural, economic, and military. The proposal is that, by identifying diplomacy more closely with the power sources it guides and directs, it will be possible to see its role and the effect it has on the system.

Types of diplomacy and diplomacies of place—Part II

Second, and with the help of a number of expert authors, the day-to-day interaction of theory and practice will be connected to the four types of diplomacy  fundamental  to  its  unchanging  nature  and  mission  in  terms  of communication: dialogue, representation, and  negotiation, and  put  in  the context of an awareness of diplomacies of place. There are two main reasons for using these types as the fundamental basis for theory of global diplomacy. First, on a theoretical level, the list of types reflects Michael Mann’s observation that “No known state has yet managed to control all relations traveling across its boundaries, and so much social power has always remained ‘transnational’” (Mann, 1986, 522), which, he goes on to say, leaves “an obvious role” for “diffusion” (Mann, 1986, 522)—and similarly leaves an equally obvious role for a global diplomacy. This approach also incorporates Adda Bozeman’s suggestion that, if diplomacy is the “interplay” of these different sources, a “more complex and dense network of diplomatic systems” is possible in which “diplomacy can be seen in the context of a world history in which non-western cultures are not ‘other’ but are in fact integral to world society” (Lee and Hudson 2004, 356).

In other words, there are three main points to consider. First, the state is not a hard and fast entity, but part of a complex web of interactions and relations that are mediated, constructed, and deconstructed by the processes of diplomacy itself. Second, that the focus of most mainstream theory on one area of the world e.g. Europe, or what has been called a states-system (more on which later) does not mean that other parts of the world did not continue to develop as entities and evolve their own models of interaction based on their worldviews, even as they participated in, or adapted to, what became the prevailing system. Further, that these ‘other’ approaches or systems not only played a crucial role in the creation of ‘modern’, Western/European diplomacy, but are an increasingly important part of the international system in their more traditional forms. For the purposes of this text, these other forms are included as part of the foundation of what is more correctly identified as the global state. Finally, it is possible for different types of states-systems and models of interaction to coexist. One may appear to be dominant, but other diplomacies have been operating and may have more, not less, freedom to operate in an increasingly global world and the expectation should be for more such interactions in the future.

The second reason for outlining these four types is that, at the very simple and basic level of practice, they correspond with the most common divisions in the core activities of diplomats through time. Historically, and in nearly every embassy in the world today, there are positions for ‘officers’ or ‘attachés’ whose responsibility is to engage with the issues, organizations, and personalities of politics, culture, economics, and military diplomacy.

The suggestion is that, by separating the story of diplomacy from the story of the relatively recent form of governance known as the ‘state,’ it will be possible not only to see the way diplomacy has developed in the past, but how it may develop in the future. It may also be possible to look more closely at the interactions of diplomacy that help shape its structure and that of the entities it represents.

Models of interaction for ‘Westphalian’ States and ‘Global’ States – Part III

Once an alternative theory is set out and the idea of ‘types’ have been explored as the constant features or set of activities of diplomacy through time, the current models of diplomacy will be woven into a pattern of global diplomacy.

The obvious place to begin such an examination is the Western/European states system that produced the currently dominant Westphalian form of the state. However, as the state itself has changed, so too has the model of interaction for the states in that states-system. Thus, the argument is that the ‘original’ or ‘classic’ Western/European states system has, over time, evolved into two distinct models of interaction for the members of its system: Transatlantic Diplomacy (used by advanced, democratic, and enmeshed, but distinctly sovereign, states as illustrated by UK/US relations) and Community Diplomacy (used in advanced, broadly democratic states, but including a notion of ‘pooled sovereignty’ as these states increasingly share what had historically been considered to be core functions and essential characteristics of statehood while not entirely bypassing existing state structures).

The next assertion is simply that, while the European states system managed to eclipse others, it could not entirely destroy the ancient alternatives and that at least some features or combination of these prior state-systems still exists. Thus, a ‘Relational’ model of diplomacy is proposed with the contention that non-western systems persisted and continued to evolve even if in the ‘shadow’ of the western world. However, as states have generally become more porous, non-state actors have become more visible, and the states which operate with this approach become more powerful in the international system, the expectation should be that this Relational model will ‘rise’ in the sense that it will be more obvious and play a more directly relevant role. This process will, in turn, help to create a more ‘global diplomacy’ in that states at different levels of development and operating different models of interaction will be more aware of each other and develop ways to more consciously coexist as the global world involves a layering of difference and a focus on interaction as part of the role and process of diplomacy.

Global Diplomacy

Having set out the theories, types, and models, the final step is to bring these different critiques of different ideas and alternative ideas together to create a theory of global diplomacy. The choice of the term ‘Global Diplomacy’ is deliberate, but differs from other texts in at least four important ways. First, the term ‘global’ is used here to begin to define a specific understanding of both diplomatic history and international relations theory. For example, international relations’ concepts such as ‘sovereignty’ and ‘power’ are often used, but not well explained in diplomatic literature. Similarly, and most fundamentally, the ‘state’ that dominates the literature is implied, but not explicitly demarcated as the state in its ‘Westphalian form,’ i.e., it is deemed to be equal, universal, and unchanging. These pervasive assumptions have reified the state, shifting it from an abstract concept to a more concrete form. This has left little room to explore the ways in which asymmetries of power, different cultural histories or diplomacies, and the ways different stages in the state’s development as an entity, have affected the institution of diplomacy in its constitutive function for international society or in terms of its own practice and tactics. As John Hoffman argues, “Diplomacy needs to be reconstructed. This involves transforming it into a concept that embodies social relationships which are ordered without the state. A critique of the state itself is essential” (Hoffman, 2003, 526).

‘Global’ features, not a timeline

However, the term ‘global’ is not simply in opposition to the domination of the Westphalian state, but a way to help describe the changing features in the development of the state overall. Historians, among others, commonly use terms such as ‘early’ or ‘late modern’ to describe a specific set of circumstances and forms of societal interaction. This has led, almost inevitably, to an increasing use of the phrase ‘postmodern’ in contemporary discussions and is useful for specific understandings of social relations. Yet, in terms of diplomacy, this approach to historical analysis is particularly unhelpful as it quickly becomes overly reliant on the Western/European state and the use of points of conflict or warfare as the primary breakpoints in the narrative.

This text resists this trend by agreeing with the arguments of scholars such as Ian Clark and Martin Shaw who suggest that, by putting ‘post’ in front of ‘modern’ is merely to locate the current state form in the time frame after modern (Clark 1999, Shaw 2000) rather than saying something instructive as to the change that has taken place in the state itself. With these authors, it is possible to begin to identify features that challenge the Westphalian state and could be described as a ‘global’ form in its own right, which, in turn, has specific implications for diplomacy. Paul Sharp has pointed out that diplomacy is a ‘reflection of the state’ (Sharp, 2009). From that point, the logical next step posed here is that if diplomacy has always been a reflection of the governing entity, it will include those entities that came before the ‘Westphalian’ form of the state as well as those that are still to come. Further, that the constantly evolving and increasingly global nature of these governing entities will produce a system that opens the more traditional understanding of diplomacy and will requires the recognition of the coexistence of other kinds of entity operating in the global space.

Second, while appreciating the richness of past diplomatic discourse, there is the issue of the continuing use and abuse of the ‘old’ vs. ‘new’ debate that can still dominate current discussion. In ways similar to the discussion of late vs. postmodern above, many diplomatic scholars have tried to mark out specific events as the definitive moment of change in diplomacy. For example, the period between World War I and World War II is often held up as the point of great change when the general public began to take a more active part in the discussion of international affairs. Yet such titles of ‘old’ vs. ‘new’ are useful only insofar as they identify these moments and put the stages of diplomacy (like the stages of the state) into a rough order, but ‘new’ and ‘old’ are so relative as to have little lasting value. They mark out different points in time, but consistent overuse has obscured important issues by periodizing features that are more correctly seen as a continuous evolution. Similarly, the establishment of a continuous or permanent presence by diplomats in other countries or what was termed a ‘resident mission’ is often pointed to as one of the most significant changes in diplomacy. However, as Jeremy Black and others have made clear, “There was no single moment or cause of the development of permanent diplomatic contacts in Europe, but the major cause seems to have been the need to improve the reporting of foreign states” (Black, 2010, 28). A more persistent example can be found in discussions of the importance of technology. While not wishing to suggest that the cable, telegraph, or Internet have not had a significant impact on the practice and tactics of diplomacy—the idea that technology has somehow altered its fundamental nature is a logical fallacy akin to suggesting that the Gatling gun changed the causes of conflict. The gun undoubtedly made war more effective, at least in terms of ‘bang for buck’ or lives lost/per dollar spent, but neither the reasons for conflict nor the path towards its resolution are found in the firing mechanisms of a gun; any more than the purpose of global communication and dialogue can be defined by the wonders of Wi-Fi or digitization. As George Shultz, secretary of state under President Reagan put it in his discussion of “virtual diplomacy,” “We are in the midst of a revolution. A revolution by definition causes old power structures to crumble and new ones to rise. The catalyst—but not the cause—has always been technological” (Shultz, 1997, 12).

Thus, this text offers an analysis of diplomacy that creates phases in its development by tracking the changes in the political entities as they are reflected by diplomatic practice and statecraft over time. The goal is to identify the underlying causes of change—rather than merely pointing out the order of these changes and the effects of such change on tactics on the ground, discussed below.

The third reason for using the term ‘global diplomacy’ is to highlight the argument that not only have we arrived at a point at which many states are identifiably ‘global’ in nature (rather than simply post-Westphalian), but equally, many more have not yet arrived at this ‘stage’ in their development. This is important because a state’s structure (and therefore its overall level of ‘development’) has a direct impact on their relations, not only with each other, but with the entire international community. Further, the transition currently underway, from state-dominated diplomacy (and based on state-centric ideas) to less hierarchical or linear structures, is likely to be difficult. Indeed, Robert Cooper, a former British diplomat and official in the European Union, argues that one of the biggest challenges is the question of relations between ‘premodern’ and ‘postmodern’ states, and while his position takes us some way down a path towards a more nuanced understanding (Cooper, 2003, page?), issues still remain as to his chronologically-biased terminology and the lack of explanation as to what a recognition of this asymmetry between states might mean for diplomacy.

These concerns are undoubtedly shared by Brian Hocking and others of the Clingendael Institute of International Relations as  demonstrated  in their examination of this exact question. Building directly on Cooper, they outline what they call three “images” of diplomacy: statist (diplomacy as the processes and structures of bilateral and multilateral relations between sovereign states); globalist (a response to the “first wave” of writing on globalization that focused heavily on the ‘demise’ of the state as the primary actor); and finally, integrative (a move beyond the first two that is effectively “post-globalization”) (Hocking, et al., 2012, 17–18). In so doing, they effectively address the problems of a strict chronology and ‘old’ vs ‘new’ by suggesting there is a “layering” in the system, as the practices of one image (or time frame) blend into the next. In their view, the final result is that world politics in the postmodern, “integrative era” are “driven by the logic of mutual interference in each other’s domestic affairs, pursuing security through transparency and transparency through interdependence” (Hocking, et al., 2012, 19). This text effectively works on these same issues from the other direction. By recognizing the ‘global state’ as both a new form and a fact, looking back across time to see continuity rather than disjuncture, and asserting that the processes or interactions of diplomatic practice are the engine of change in the system as a whole, the hope is to arrive at a better position from which to understand the diplomacy between states (or whatever entities are considered significant in any given period of time) as well as the features that determine their relations, and the changes in those patterns that are seen today.

Finally, and perhaps most contentious, is the assertion that diplomacy—its mission and purpose—has not changed. This text defines diplomacy as the mediation of the sources of social power and the systems of organization and mechanisms for communication, negotiation, and representation between social entities. Given the broadness of this view, it is crucial to make the case clear. The starting point is the straightforward observation that the existence of diplomacy as an institution is not dependent on the existence of the modern state. Diplomacy has mediated between the sources of social power (cultural, economic, political, and military) through time and evolved separately, but in parallel to our governing entities; from the idea of band-tribe-chief-state evolution to a more layered approach of localized tribes and kingdoms, to regional frameworks of city-states and regional empires, and finally, nations to nation-states and global empires as technology enabled and enhanced the ability to extend and maintain power further and further away from the base. The modern notion of the state has provided a relatively stable focus for our current system and hence the traditional study of diplomacy, but it is clear that the state per se does not extend back indefinitely. It is the relations between the entities through forms of social power reaching back to the beginnings of time and have shaped and reshaped the governing entities (Sending, Pouliot, Neuman, 2015). The argument is therefore that it is only logical to assume that there is no reason to expect that the state—certainly not the Westphalian form of the state—will continue unchanged into the future. Thus, it is time to examine the current status of the states-system and offer some observations as to the models of interaction currently used or that are under construction as well as look towards the next stage in this continuous evolution. The aim is to locate diplomacy, both in terms of its unchanging nature and the shifting character of the tools used, along points of a continuum that extends into the past and that may well also provide a guide as to what the future might bring.

This book is dedicated to the exploration of diplomacy, an institution developed to consciously and deliberately define and negotiate the spaces between societies, altering both the entity they represent and the institution in that process of interaction. Diplomats are forever caught between the natural, instinctive impulse to reach out and connect, and the equally deep-seated tendency of societies to fear those different from themselves. The institution and those who operate within it, are both symbols and tools of power, maintaining a dialogue designed for peace, but often coming into its own during periods of conflict. This text will examine these roles in the hope and expectation that diplomacy will respond to the constant shift in global governance by continuing, through its mission of inter-cultural understanding and communication, to weave a richly patterned tapestry of peoples and societies.

References and Further Reading

Abbott, Andrew. “Things of Boundaries.” Social Research. Vol. 62. No 4. (1995): 857–882.

Adler-Nissen, Rebecca. “Relationalism or why diplomats find international relations theory strange” in Ole Jacob Sending, Vincent Pouliot and Iver Neumann (eds). Diplomacy and the Making of World Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Black, Jeremy. A History of Diplomacy. London: Reaktion Books, 2010.

Bozeman, Adda. Politics and Culture in International History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960.

Clark, Ian. Globalisation and International Relations Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Cooper, Robert. The Post-Modern State and the World Order. London: Demos, 1996.

Cooper, Robert. The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-first Century. London: Atlantic Books, 2003.

Crumley, Carole L..“Pattern recognition in social science.” Social Science newsletter. Vol. 70, Issue 3, (1985): 176–179.

Crumley, Carole L. “Heterarchy and the Analysis of Complex Societies” in Heterarchy and the analysis of complex societies. R. Ehrehreich, C. Crumley, and J. Levy (eds). American Anthropological Association Archeological Papers. 6, (1995): 1–6.

Hill, Christopher. The Changing Politics of Foreign Policy. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2003. Hocking, Brian, Jan Melissen Shaun, and Riordan Paul Sharp. Futures for diplomacy: Integrative Diplomacy for the 21st  century. Clingendael: Netherland Institute of International Relations, 2012.

Hoffman, John. “Reconstructing Diplomacy.” British Journal of Politics and International Relations. Vol 5. No 4., (2003): 525–542.

Jackson, Patrick and Daniel Nexon. “Relations Before Sates: Substance, Process and the Study of World Politics.” European Journal of International Relations. Vol. 5 (3), (1999): 291–332. Lee, Donna and David Hudson. “The Old and New Significance of Political Economy in

Diplomacy.” Review of International Studies. Vol. 30 No 3. ( July, 2004):. 343–360.

Mann, Michael. The Sources of Social Power: A history of power from the beginning to A.D. 1760.

Volume 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Neumann.“Euro-centric diplomacy: Challenging but manageable.” European Journal of International Relations. 18, (2012): 299–321.

Sending, Ole Jacob, Vincent Pouliot and Iver Neumann (eds). Diplomacy and the Making of World Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Sharp, Paul. Diplomatic Theory of International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Sharp, Paul, Stuart Murray, Geoffrey Wiseman, David Criekemans, and Jan Melisson. “The Present and Future of Diplomacy and Diplomatic Studies.” International Studies Review. 13, (2011): 709–728.

Shaw, Martin. Theory of the Global State: Globality as an Unfinished Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Shultz, George. “Diplomacy in the Information Age.” Keynote address at the Virtual Diplomacy Conference, United States Institute of Peace, 1997.

Weisbrode, Kenneth. Old Diplomacy Revisited. New York: Palgrave, 2014.


This text is excerpted from Global Diplomacy: Theories, Types, and Models, First Edition by Alison R. Holmes with J. Simon Rofe.


Copyright © 2016 by WESTVIEW PRESS

Click here for more information
  • African Studies
  • Art and Architecture
  • Education
  • European Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Religion
  • Science and Advanced Math