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Of Tools and Records of Foreign Policy


A.N.D. Haksar

THE 21ST CENTURY AMBASSADOR: PLENIPOTENTIARY TO CHIEF EXECUTIVE
By
Diplo Foundation, Malta and Geneva, 2004, pp. 258, price not stated.

INDIA IN THE MIRROR OF FOREIGN DIPLOMATIC ARCHIVES
Edited by Max-Jean Zins and Gilles Boquérat
Manohar Publications, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 138, Rs. 295.00

VOLUME XXVIII NUMBER 10 October 2004

Diplomacy is the overall technique of conducting foreign policy. These two books approach the subject from opposite but complementary directions. One discusses modern diplomatic practice with particular reference to the evolving role of the ambassador. The other studies the actuality of that practice through an academic scrutiny of selected diplomatic records of four countries, which reflect their relations with India.   Kishan Rana, himself a distinguished former diplomat, examines in his book the permanent tools of foreign policy rather than its often variable substance which has always attracted more attention. His range is global, though the focus seems more on the developing world. He analyses the institution of the ambassador, and considers various ways to optimize its functioning. “Resident ambassadors and their embassy teams represent the cutting edge of the diplomatic system”, observes Rana. “It does not suffice that a country should have a foreign policy that best serves its interests. It must also have the optimal ground mechanism to implement this policy”. This well explains the need for his study, which is specially relevant for all concerned with the conduct of international affairs.   The ambassador’s role in policy formulation and implementation has changed markedly in the modern world of instant information, direct communication between governments and more frequent meetings of their leaders. The institution nevertheless remains a functional necessity and needs due nurturing as such. Rana writes that many in the developing world are still “mired in the forms and symbols of diplomatic usage without seizing the substance”. Thus there is a continuing requirement for better training and orientation, as also for more communication between academic theorists of diplomacy and the practitioners in the field.   With this starting point, the book discusses the entire gamut of ambassadorial functions. Negotiation, promotion and outreach, feedback to home base, bilateral and multilateral work, regional and public diplomacy, mission management and leadership, protocol and security, all are considered in detail together with training and human resources development. The author describes, with named examples, the kinds of excellence achievable in one or more of these activities. He also lists, in a lively section on anonymous “rogue ambassadors”, a variety of pitfalls which need avoidance.   The author opines that, in today’s conditions, “the best way an ambassador should run his embassy is in principle no way different from how the regional chief executive of a transnational enterprise operates a country office”. He also acknowledges ...


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