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Speaking on diplomacy - its definitions, successes and failures, and applications

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A copy of the presentation I and the Vice Consul, Frau Annechen Lowey, gave on January 16, 2011 L.E., at the January Aether Salon, 'Diplomacy!'. I have marked how we shared the speech.

Diplomacy: The art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations (particularly in securing treaties), including the methods and forms usually employed.

Diplomacy is dexterity or skill in securing advantages; tact.

All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.

All war represents a failure of diplomacy.

Diplomacy is to do and say

The nastiest things in the nicest way.

Diplomacy is more than saying or doing the right things at the right time, it is avoiding saying or doing the wrong things at any time.

Diplomacy is the art of letting the other party have things your way.
A diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.

As you can see, there's a wide variety of opinions on diplomacy. A more formal definition, from a popular source, is 'The representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and friendly relations.'

Let us set out some more definitions from a respected dictionary, as I have found some small confusion in the use of diplomatic terminology:

An Ambassador is: 'an official envoy; especially: a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment'.

An Embassy is: 'a body of diplomatic representatives; specifically: one headed by an ambassador' and also, 'the function or position of an ambassador'.

A Consul is: 'an official appointed by a government to reside in a foreign country to represent the commercial interests of citizens of the appointing country' This is descended from an Imperial Roman title, although the function has changed entirely.

A Consulate is: 'the office, term of office, or jurisdiction of a consul' and also 'the... official premises of a consul'. In addition, 'A consulate is similar to (but not the same as) a diplomatic office, but with focus on dealing with individual persons and businesses.'

One might compare the relationship of an Ambassador and a Consul to that of a military ship's captain and his executive officer. The captain deals with external matters – communications of policy and practice with the ruler or his delegates, overall strategies and the unit's part in them. The executive officer looks inward, handling the crew, disseminating the local applications of the policies received from the captain and ensuring all unit resources are properly used and distributed to ensure the highest level of functioning possible.

In that manner, a Ambassador deals with the desires and orders received from his ruler and negotiates on the highest level possible, dealing with the ponderous and far-reaching movements of kingdoms and principalities.

The Consul, however, will ensure that tourists and expatriates have their correct paperwork intact; will start potential new citizens on the right path to their desired country; will maintain resources on business practices, police procedures, and other local matters.

Let us now address some examples of diplomacy. The Vice Consul found this one example of a well-played hand – the aetheric address for the reproduction of the newspaper article is http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F00D17F63F5D1A7493C3A8178AD85F478784F9
You may read it at your leisure, of course, but the gist of the matter is that Austria found themselves bound by an unpleasant commercial situation which was causing hardship to its citizenry.

The ambassador, after a dint of hard research, found a trade clause which allowed him to not only remove the hardship, but in effect punish the extortionistic behaviour of France.

An example of diplomatic ties assisting in war: during the French & Indian War: French soldiers, aided by 200 Abenaki, Pennacook, Kanien`kehaka, and Wendat soldiers on snowshoes launched a surprise attack on the village of Deerfield, which was the northwestern frontier of the New England colonies. The French and Indian force quickly retreated to Canada with their captives, many of whom never returned. The English forces did not have snowshoes, and were unable to overtake the invading forces. The attack was a triumph of diplomacy and military strategy for the French. They had forged alliances with the Native nations, and by adopting a Native American technology (i.e. snowshoes), they succeeded in moving large numbers of men 300 miles through the snow.

A reknowned failure of diplomacy in one documentable future is that of the Shōwa imperial reign in Japan. The Emperor and his court, emboldened by their national success in adapting to European influences without losing national identity, moved to impose a 'Co-Prosperity Sphere' uniting the Asian countries 'the eight corners of the world' under the rule of the Japanese Emperor. The failure came in that all the time convincing the Japanese people about the gloriousness of this concept was time not spent in convincing the rest of the 'Sphere' of the same — and as a result, the Japanese participated in wars and atrocities for almost two decades, only stopping on becoming an occupied country for the first time in its history.

As seen by the recent unauthorized release of diplomatic documents, diplomats are still humans, and subject to the same faults as all other humans. They can have unpopular opinions, and unconsidered moments. The effects of the exposure of these faults range from acute embarrassment to possible damage of international relations.

Thus there will always be diplomatic secrets.

Some more embarrassing than others.

While some of these secrets may become the seed for jovial anecdotes years later, many will be changed by the intervening years.
At home, diplomacy is... not as effective. For those not familiar with the history of my Europa, the local rulers are, more often than not, Sparks. With the Spark comes madness, and those Sparks who survive their first great creation are not necessarily the most rational of rulers. I have, in truth, suppressed border disputes based on 'He looked at me funny,' and 'She insulted my newest creation.' In situations such as those, the best technique has proven to be not calm, rational negotiation, but smothering force until they stop struggling and can be taken away to calm down. Only then, after they return from their 'time-outs', can we begin the rational negotiation phase.


Diplomacy on the grid is yet another matter. The usual resorts of failed negotiation – sanctions, siege, full-out war – are not as functional here as they are in other circumstances. When most punitive or hostile acts can be subverted by sitting or removing oneself entirely from not just the area but the grid itself, diplomacy gains greatly in value for dispute resolution, but even more for benign interaction.

Diplomacy has led to greater exchanges of information, of greater participation at events, and a greater selection of events possible. Consider New Babbage's recent Fleet Week, where the biggest prizes were evenly distributed between the Steamlands. A nation bound by isolationism would not have had such excellent competition and challenge.

Channels opened by even casual diplomacy provide quick exchanges of information, such as reports of griefing to allow for proactive bans to protect as yet unafflicted lands. They allow for less troublesome exchanges, such as clarifications of changes from the Lab, or new devices that make tedious matters less vexing.

Diplomacy has led to the expansion of the Imperial Bank of Steeltopia to cross the waters to Cala Mondrago, where the bank itself faces the Magistrate's tower in the middle of the market district. The system on which it runs was originated in Antiquity, which has a burgeoning internal economy based on a non-linden currency.

On a more intimate scale, diplomacy can be used between a peacekeeper or an experienced citizen to resolve issues of an inexperienced person accidentally littering a common area, using weapons inappropriately, or even merely miscommunicating by means of gestures, actions or phrasings which violate common customs.

In some areas, this might involve the wearing of a health meter (or not), or a matter as simple as inappropriate dress causing an upset. A calm voice and a ready ear can negotiate a peaceful resolution instead of resorting to official reports.
When the Consulate was founded in 2007 (Linden Era), the mission was fairly simple. We endeavored to aid the new residents from home to assimilate to the grid. In doing so, we needed to learn the laws, customs and traditions of the various Steamlands.

However, many things have changed in the years since. The Steamlands have expanded (in some cases explosively), then the Openspace crisis altered the landscape considerably. Old lands have faded into the mists, and been replaced by new lands with brave new views.

Along with the Steamlands, the mission of the Consulate has changed. The job has developed to include many aspects of an embassy, though not specifically for Europa. In some ways the staff have become unofficial ambassadors for inter-simulator relations.

Rather than limiting our actions to aiding the individual emigres to the grid and private concerns of commercial nature, we have endeavoured to increase awareness of the citizens of the broad spectrum of city-states and micronations of Second Life.

To that end, besides the offices we have in several states, we have supported endeavors such as the Aether Chrononauts Calendar project and the Steamlander forums, hoping to encourage intersimulator cooperation and dialogue.

Part of that mission has been the Grand Tours, identifying people who might host stops on the tour, assisting those who have not participated previously, and in one fit of madness, conducting a Tour ourselves.

I never said diplomacy *always* made sense.

To sum up, diplomacy attempts to solve, by means of reasonable discussion and fair compromise, issues of trade, cultural exchange and land use, on a scale from between two individuals to that of several countries.
The goal is to gain the cooperation of all parties involved to the good of all parties.

Thank you for letting us rattle on this afternoon.
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