Diplomcy & diplomatic career
First let us differentiate between a diplomat and a foreign policy expert or foreign policy planner. A diplomat is essentially a representative abroad or negotiator with foreign governments or their agencies . To be a successful policy maker one requires in addition, experience of foreign assignment to know the diplomatic “play” . To have diplomatic experience is essential for successful policy planning. Indeed the two functions overlap but a diplomat is essentially a field or a negotiator’s job. However, in a wider sense, diplomacy refers to functioning of foreign relations of a country with other countries or on international community.
As regards a diplomat, not every body is fit for a diplomatic assignment. One must have a particular type of personality and in the field he operates must acquire “contacts” or the expertise required for the job. De Callieres says” … he who will enter the field must examine himself whether he has the qualities necessary for success in it “ … these are equitable humor, or tranquil attention to those he meets, and address always open, genial, civil, agreeable, with easy and ingratiating manners which assist largely in making a favorable impression upon those around him… these things are necessary adjuncts to the negotiator’s profession. Their opposite, the grave and cold air, a melancholy or rough exterior may create a first impression, which is not easily removed”
A diplomat should be some what extrovert, friendly but not back slapping type, pleasant and must have control his thoughts and expressions. This does not mean he should try to be oily or be a smooth operator. The general impression that a diplomat should be a sharp person like a trickster is most unfortunate and erroneous. De Callieres has warned “ he must be beware of trying to pass himself off too conspicuously as a “ crafty or adroit manipulator. The essence of skill lies in concealing it. He must try to leave an impression upon fellow diplomats of his sincerity. And good faith”
The negative qualities for a diplomat are an unimpressive personality or ugliness. Introvert , sever, extremist or rigid persons, persons with harsh tongue, given to using invectives are undesirable for diplomacy. A miser or one who does not enjoy having a large table should stay at home. It is considered a necessary requirement that the ambassador should be presentable or in any case should not be ugly or unimpressive. True but I recall that Dr Omar Hyat Malik Principal of Islamia College Peshawar was unpreventable. Yet he was so eloquent that once started to speak he mesmerized his listeners who forget his looks. He had been sent as Ambassador to Japan also. After his retirement he stayed back in Tokyo. During my posting in Tokyo I was told that the Emperor invited him to lunch even when he was a simple foreigner in Japan. Those who know Japan know that to be invited by the Emperor was something out of this world!.
This will show that qualities required in a bureaucrat are very much different to those required in a diplomat. Two are poles apart. The bureaucrat has power at his disposal to get his orders implemented. The diplomats have only persuasion and ability to work out compromises to make a foreign government accept his persuasion. He cannot force a foreign government to comply with his proposals.
De Callieres says: “It is a crime against public safety not to uproot incapacity …to allow an incompetent diplomat to remain one moment longer than necessary in a place where competence is solely needed “
However, many a time ambassadors are appointed who are small in mind, small in heart, and cannot inspire confidence. De Callieres narrates a story to illustrate his point. He says” Once the Duke of Tuscany complained that Venice had sent to his court a person of no value, posses neither judgment nor knowledge.” his interlocutor replied retorted “ I am not surprised .We have many fools in Venice too” The Grand Duke retorted “ “We also have fools in Venice, but we take care not to export them” However, there are two kinds of political important persons , one who are exportable community or sent out because they are headaches or undesirable to the regime, and are exiled with trappings of diplomatic position. .Once long ago I read in a book by an experienced American diplomat that persons from two categories make difficult ambassadors, soldiers and priests because soldiers are trained to win victories and priests believe in absolute truth whereas diplomacy is a matter of give and take.
My final word to diplomats, young and old, is that he may find his own recompense in the satisfaction of having faithfully and efficiently discharged the duties laid upon him. It has been often said that the public service is an ungrateful task … Disappointment awaits us in all walks of life but in no profession are disappointments so amply outweighed as in the service of diplomacy.