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From Diplomacy to Politics (Barbara Wiebenga)
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From Diplomacy to Politics William R. Polk... President, Adlai Stevenson Institute...non-profit research center....

Foreign affairs, except in times of war and severe crises, appear so abstract from the "real" politics of our daily lives as to acquire a veneer of mystery. Mr. Polk writes that international affairs can be divided into three historical periods and that we are now launched into a fourth.

The first, which he calls classical affairs, covers the years between the French Revolution and the First World War. During this period the primary goal of governments was not to overthrow rival political systems or destroy their economies but to gain advantages within an accepted system by changing certain perimeters between states, notably frontiers. A relatively small portion of government resources was spent on the conduct of foreign affairs, and the number of people involved was extremely small. Diplomacy was formed largely on codifications and abstractions of the conduct of the European aristocratic class. The members were in many ways closer to one another than to the political bodies they represented_ Academic training was geared more to a life style and mode of thought than to politics and economics.

The period of classical foreign affairs died during the First World Ware The despair and disillusionment spawned by that war was accompanied by a revulsion against secret aristocratic diplomacy, ushering in a great surge of popular and ideological interest in international affairs. While the amount of money spent on foreign affairs was only slightly greater there was a spectacular change in both the number and the kind of people involved-- entry was most often gained by examination rather than by birth. Conceptions of the proper objectives of foreign affairs differed sharply from those of the "classical" period. The emergence of the Soviet Union on the world scene engendered the outward thrust of ideology. It was no longer the prince's court but the conference hall. Each diplomat's task was to bring his state's bundle of objectives, fears, and hopes to the negotiating table, reveal them to his counterparts, and try to make a businesslike accommodation.

The third stage--global foreign policy--is roughly synonymous with the Cold War. The period also marks the American attempts at containment. In this third period there was a turning away from "understanding" and a substitution of the concept of power as the bedrock of international relations. World stability rested not on national purposes, ideology, or the will of rulers but on what one diplomat called "the delicate balance of terror". During this period the world seemed to be divided by the U.S. and the other by the Soviet Union. The scope of foreign policy objectives in this period was considerably broadened, The locale of diplomatic activity once again shifted, as it previously had from the "classical" court to the "conference" table, this time to the basement "war rooms" in the national Capitals. As a consequence of changes in communication, strategy, and the implements of policy, the role of the ambassador sharply declined.

Mr. Polk continues in his report that we are now entering a period of world politics in which weakness may be as determining a factor as strength. Weakness in terms of the inability of the great to use their power and of the transformation of the nature of power, caused by the spread of political activity and sensitivity in both the large and the small nations. Mr. Polk concluded with the idea that it is becoming increasingly clear that some of our conceptions and the bureaucratic structure we have erected during the preceding three periods of foreign affairs are at least irrelevant and perhaps inappropriate. To recognize this may be the first step in escaping the send of abstraction and mystery which has often trapped us in the past.

LEAGUE WAS THERE... Japan Chamber of Commerce Art and Cultural Festival.. UNA Luncheon, Mr. Armour, regional representative, International Civil Aviation Organization... HISA Conference, Japanese Investments in Hawaii with speakers from banks and businesses in Japan and from the U. of H.

Barbara Wiebenga

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