By Dr. Saifaldin Z. Al-Darraji.
“Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.”.” Winston Churchill.
The post-Cold War era witnessed a remarkable development in the form of international relations, especially with regard to the affairs of the global defense system and its traditional constants, which imposed a new vision of national security strategies as a main factor of countries’ foreign policies to manage conflicts, support interests, expand influence and make decisions at the international and regional levels.
There has been a need to formulate broader definitions of the concept of national security that include economic, diplomatic, political, geostrategic, social and other concepts. This is what a number of Copenhagen School pioneers and thinkers such as Barry Bozan and Oli Weaver have argued regarding expanding security studies to subjects other than military ones.
The structure of the state is closely related to the ability of its institutions to manage its resources and implement the functions in a manner that ensures its steadfastness against change processes due to unexpected internal or external shocks that threaten its security, stability and the well-being of its people.
Diplomacy is one of the most important elements of national power that states follow to formulate their foreign policies and expand their scope of influence by using the principles and foundations of directed dialogue and effective negotiation strategies, tactics and methods, to contribute to achieving their national and political goals, and to finalize an international and regional public opinion that supports and back their positions aimed at protecting their interests and those of their subjects in the other countries.
Diplomacy is defined – from the writer’s point of view – as “one of the elements of national power that states use to achieve the goals of their foreign policies, in accordance with a set of rules, customs and laws that regulate their relations within the international environment.”
The role of diplomacy in facing the challenges and threats to which the state may be exposed is no less than the role of the security and military system. Rather, it may be considered the first phase to prevent the growth of armed conflicts and the risk of direct confrontation, as a result of the conflicts of its interests with the interests of other countries, in addition to what may result from security, political, economic and demographic repercussions.
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 defined the procedures and instructions for diplomatic action among states, as well as the rights and duties of members of diplomatic missions.
Strengthening the bilateral and multi-part diplomatic role to assume the responsibility of defending the interests of supreme states and their national security requires a team with a high level of capacity, competence and integrity, equipped with basic political directives, and the necessary visions and information, for a broader understanding of the shape of the global order and the nature of international relations, including an evaluation of Risks, analysis of situations, and exploration of issues that affect, in one way or another, the position of the state within its international and regional surroundings.
In light of the foregoing, and in order to achieve this, members of this team, especially diplomatic personnel, must possess special skills, which are considered professional principles for diplomatic work, including:
- The ability to understand, analyze and evaluate situations and challenges.
- Skill and good planning in gathering information from its various sources.
- Accuracy and objectivity in presenting opinions, ideas and proposals, and telling the truth to the authority without bias, favoritism or weakness, taking into account the etiquette of dialogue and the responsibilities of the job hierarchy.
- The ability to create and innovate in solving problems, managing crises, and making decisions under pressure and in difficult situations.
- Extensive knowledge and comprehensive understanding of international affairs, taking into account cultural and social norms, in addition to full knowledge of the customs and traditions of the host country.
- The ability to form and manage cohesive teams to accomplish the assigned tasks, with the assurance that within these teams there is someone who plays the role of critic and determinant of failures and weaknesses, or the so-called (red team).
- Firmness, listening, decency, tact, calm and good looking. With good negotiation skills and the ability to learn languages, communicate effectively, build relationships and form alliances in times of peace and war.
- Accuracy of observation, quick wit and caution against falling into the trap of the intelligence services that usually put diplomatic personnel as a target for them, especially in dictatorial regimes. Some studies have indicated the need to develop security and intelligence skills for employees working in diplomatic missions.
In addition to what has been mentioned above, belief in the essence of the democratic political system, sincerity and competence, are the criteria for the success of the person entrusted with any responsibility, whether within or outside the geographical borders of the country. However, representing the state abroad and contributing to the implementation of its foreign policy places on the missionary or diplomat a double responsibility, as he is required to work to present the best conduct and create strong ties with countries at all levels and in the most difficult circumstances.
Diplomats should be influential leaders around them, able to formulate visions, set goals, expand networks of communication, mobilize supportive positions, and build alliances according to theories of mutual gain.
The ability of states to maneuver and create opportunities and avoid the largest possible losses, and not to enter into conflicts that are useless but drain energies, requires an active and influential diplomatic role in the production of an active foreign policy, based on a strategy that bears costs and distributes benefits, through cooperation and non-interference in Internal affairs of states, contributing to solving problems and giving priority to dialogue and negotiation to support the foundations of national security, as well as strengthening the role of mediation in settling conflicts in conflict areas, in a way that is reflected in the strengthening of the state’s position in its international and regional surroundings.
About the author: Dr. Saifaldin Z. Al-Darraji is an Iraqi Diplomat, Member at the UK Royal College of Defence Studies RCDS