Monday, February 28, 2011

Moïsi on "The Diplomacy of the Blind"

Without naming names, Dominique Moïsi critiques the performance of diplomats:

When regimes lose legitimacy in the eyes of their citizens, it is not reasonable to derive one’s information mainly from that regime’s servants and sycophants. In such cases, diplomats will too often merely report the regime’s reassuring yet biased analysis.
Diplomats, instead, should be judged by their ability to enter into a dialogue with all social actors: government representatives and business leaders, of course, but also representatives of civil society (even if it exists only in embryonic form). With proper training and incentives, diplomats would be better equipped to anticipate change.

But he does not paint all with the same brush:

The United States managed to get it right, albeit very slowly, whereas many European countries erred on the side of the status quo for a much longer time, if not systematically, as they refused to see that the region could be evolving in a direction contrary to what they deemed to be in their strategic interest. Historical and geographic proximity, together with energy dependency and fear of massive immigration, paralyzed European diplomats.
But there is something more fundamental underlying diplomats’ natural diffidence. They are very often right in their readings of a given situation – the US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, for example, include a slew of masterful and penetrating analyses. But it is as if, owing to an excess of prudence, they cannot bring themselves to pursue their own arguments to their logical conclusions.

1 comment:

Mark said...

That diplomats have not grasped that it is essential and even fundamental to talk to people beyond the members of a dictatorial regime seems amazing. Isn't that absolutely obvious? If that is all they do they barely serve their information gathering purpose: you could learn more from the newspaper from journalists' reports. Alas I fear there is a class solidarity amongst elites at work here also, as we saw in MAM's case. I suspect that some democratic representatives rather envy and even identify with their non-elected counterparts' easy life. Rather than scorn it, they might even secretly aspire to it.

However why Europeans could be paralyzed rather than motivated by proximity to the north African coast and fear of immigration, I cannot quite grasp. This seems counterintuitive. If a neighboring country might pose a potential challenge those are the very countries to pay more rather than less attention to; perhaps what Moisi is suggesting is a kind of flight from reality reflex? If so, that would be a fundamental failure to do the job they are there to do.

Lastly, if analyses of finer details are performed without drawing the broader conclusions, I feel here we are treading nearer to something that also very serious since it seems that what this shows is a fear of putting out one's superiors by telling them what they don't want to hear: not rocking the boat gets you that promotion. Thus mediocrity will rise. If that were the case, so much for the elites.