Failed Diplomats, Diplomacy and the Press

Source: misz007.livejournal.com

When Diplomats need to get anything done, they are not really bothered about what the general public would think of them. What is more important is what the states thinks of them. Diplomats deal in politics, but they are not exactly politicians. They are discrete but not always politically correct. They look after the interests of their states but not always the interest of their people. That depends. But they take care of their own interests, at least.

However, when they need to get anything done, interferences can really prove disastrous to their cause. This is one of the greatest flaws of the openness of the modern day diplomatic practices. But much more than that, the media. This has been happening more frequently in the recent years. However, that has not changed the art of diplomacy itself and things get done as they used to in the past.

But sometimes the kind of coverage that media the offer to diplomats and diplomatic processes can damage their work quite a bit. Especially when it comes to spilling out the beans pertaining to what the diplomats have been talking about in private. Media entities such as the Wikileaks have created a tremendous impact on the world of diplomacy. Well diplomats, welcome to the Age of Information, and Technology.

However, All diplomats secretly hate the press. Some do so openly. Actually, you would hardly be a diplomat if you really loved the press. Let alone be a journalist, which really makes it an oxymoron. But some diplomats do become journalists or columnists after they retire. The better ones become consultants and lobbyists. Actually, you can never tell diplomats to retire. They choose to retire themselves.

Some of them had actually foreseen the troubles of the future.

Today the greatest evil—and therefore the most immediate—is the press.

Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich of the Austrian Empire                      (1773 – 1859)

Ah, how the diplomats miss the good old days when there was nothing like modern press. Prince von Metternich was the Chairman at the Congress of Vienna and said that at a time when clearly the threat from the media was not half as much as troubling as it is in the 21st century.

However, let us not forget that the press is also a tool for diplomacy. What can be used against you, can be used for you and vice versa. Therefore, the press is your greatest backstabbing machine, while it serves as your propaganda mouthpiece. This is what gives a literal meaning to the expression “War of the Words”.

Learn from the press. If and when you run out of content, create content. But if you underestimate the press, it is not always unsure of what it is doing. Actually it almost always is sure.

Diplomats who fail to change with time, adopt new techniques, adapt their stance and approach and accept new challenges are doomed to fail.

In the world of diplomacy, everything happens for a reason. Even if it is nothing. Therefore, if you see some smoke in the press, there is always a suppressed fire managing to surface some of its flames through the rubble piled up to cover it. Diplomatic scandals are the same and if a diplomat faces the music, it means that he or she did something terribly wrong as far as his or her own interest was concerned.

Diplomats who don’t watch their back pay dearly for it. Brutal truth, digest it if you can. Diplomacy and Backstabbing go hand in hand. Diplomats must choose their allies wisely and should be even more careful with the people who they call or consider their friends. Never trust people who are too hungry for attention. Or never trust them too much.

Diplomats cannot afford to have such friends. Or at least cannot afford to trust them with their lives. With friends like these, who needs enemies.

I respect diplomats, marketers and pimps.

Their jobs are not easy. But you have to be sure that you don’t get stabbed.

The world of diplomacy is just so amusing and entertaining. That’s what drives them. Apart from the kill.

If you are not a good liar, you can leave diplomacy to your grandmother. But if you do fail, you need to retreat safely.

I think you are pretty much defined by how and where you retreat.

Diplomats are, after all, humans. They can make mistakes too.

But then again they must never make mistakes unless on purpose.

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Writing Your Own Ill Fate

I have written earlier about Moammer Gaddafi pulling out of Libya too late and also a bit about the mistakes he had made. Well, it turns out he did not have enough friends to accept him and apart from that, he never really wanted to pull out of Libya anyway. Therefore, he lurked around his hometown of Sirte and was brutally murdered, or executed if you will, after public humiliation on October 20, 2011, which went on till his funeral in an unknown place. Maybe that’s how he thought he would have died honorably. But I have my doubts.

This brings to light even more lessons. One thing is for certain. Gaddafi was the architect of his own ill fate and if you ask me, it was he who chose his way of death. Now consider this.

 It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.

                                                                      – Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

                                                                         from The Prince

While you may consider Machiavelli evil, there is almost a consensus on his unmatched understanding of politics, as writers and political advisers in history go. Unfortunately, not many dictators are able to keep all that wisdom in mind. From a report in The Time Magazine, the Chinese version of this quote, though said a lot earlier, from Laozi was the favorite of Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf, the then new front line ally of the United States, in its July 22, 2002 issue.

When the Master governs, the people are hardly aware that he exists.

Next best is a leader who is loved.

Next, one who is feared.

The worst is one who is despised.

                                                                                        – Laozi (c. 604 BC)

                                                                                           From Tao Te Ching

Musharraf had had this quote inscribed on a plaque adorning his residency in Rawalpindi, according to the report.

There is a good reason why Machiavelli and Laozi said this. These dictators may have these quotes inscribed on a plaque or may sleep with a copy of The Prince underneath their pillows, but they often forget the wisdom when the moment of truth arrives. A relatively smart dictator like Musharraf did well as far as studying political retreat strategy is concerned but I don’t think Gaddafi really had any concept about it whatsoever, not that I am underestimating his abilities. The moment your people stop fearing you, you cease to be a dictator. This goes to show just how delusional Gaddafi was. As I have maintained before, he was probably the bravest of the international leaders, but yet he was delusional to the extent of being suicidal.

Source: Al Jazeera English (english.aljazeera.net)

The longer he stayed in Libya, the greater became his chances of being lynched to death by a crowd. And that is precisely what happened. He had the option of giving himself up to the Western powers had he been interested in living for long. He also had the option of shooting himself before arrest, as we are told that Adolf Hitler did, but he chose not to do that either. As I wrote before, his perfect diagnosis was being stuck in the middle of being scared of losing his throne and being scared of losing his life. His son Mo’tassem Billah Gaddafi was also murdered by the rebels. Looking at their end, his other son Saif-ul-Islam has announced that he would be ready to face the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Maybe a smart move.

As for the rebels, while some people would have disapproved of his murder like that, but expecting anything else would be a little too idealistic and unrealistic. That is swift “justice”, if you will. Who has the time for trials for crimes against humanity? They knew he was guilty and instant justice was served, the revolutionary style. The rebels celebrated and the photographs of the killed Gaddafi, which I bet would have been far more gruesome than those of the dead Osama Ben Laden, were making headlines in the mainstream media around the globe.

The Libyans were celebrating, as they should. The rebels were ecstatic. President Obama said that Gaddafi’s death was a warning for the iron-fist Arab dictators, probably passing a hint to Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad. Surprisingly, in fact not surprisingly, some publications around the world, which otherwise have a pretty “liberal” record, published celebratory headlines on Gaddafi’s death. Still, there are a few who have been disturbed by the images of the incident. While it was a moment to celebrate, it was also encouragement to people around the world to kill the leaders they do not like once they get their hands on them. Not that anything is wrong with that. It is justice after all. But many of them would be upset and outraged if many other of the world leaders, who have committed similar or even worse crimes against humanity than the Libyan dictator, are brought to a similar end.

I wonder if he we have more bloody coups and revolutions waiting to happen. And more dictators dying a bloody death. As I said in my earlier posts, if you are upset at it, think of the Romanovs.

Smart dictators around the world still have a choice to make.

Repeat Gaddafi’s mistakes and you would be writing your own ill fate.