Summit Diplomacy: Some Lessons from History

Report
SUMMIT DIPLOMACY:
SOME ‘LESSONS’ FROM HISTORY
Prof. David Reynolds
(Cambridge University)
History and Policy Lecture
Gresham’s College, 4 June 2013
ON THE WORLD STAGE
TOP LEVEL, HIGH STAKES
BUT ROOTED IN DAILY LIFE
NOT TO MENTION . . .
SO SUMMITRY
• Draws on skills we use every day.
• But the fate of nations hangs on the
outcome.
ADVICE FROM THE PAST
• ‘It is not easy to see how things could be worsened by a
parley at the summit.’ (Winston Churchill, 14 Feb. 1950)
• ‘It is far better that we should meet at the summit than
at the brink.’
(John F. Kennedy, 1 Oct. 1959)
• ‘It is always the same with these conferences . . . The
Great Men don’t know what they are talking about and
have to be educated.’ (Alexander Cadogan, Yalta, 6 Feb. 1945)
• ‘If great princes have a desire to continue friends, in
my judgement they ought never to meet.’
(Philippe de Commines, c. 1490)
BUT VIEWED HISTORICALLY
• Leaders did not usually engage in direct
negotiation . . .
SECURITY
Rouen, 1419
STATUS
Canossa, 1077
BUREAUCRATIZATION
THE LEADER AS STATESMAN
• Essentially a 20th-century idea.
• Especially from the 1930s . . .
MADE POSSIBLE BY AIR
TRAVEL
MADE NECESSARY BY
WMD
MADE INTO HOUSEHOLD
NEWS BY THE MASS MEDIA
SINCE THE COLD WAR . . .
• Fewer opportunities for dramatic
personal interventions . . .
CONSTANT
COMMUNICATION
DIVERSIFIED THREATS
INDIVIDUALIZED MEDIA
INSTITUTIONALIZED
DIPLOMACY
IN THE
ST
21
CENTURY
• Less scope for personal diplomacy.
• But still some ‘lessons’ from history.
1. KNOW ‘THE OTHER’
• Vienna, June 1961
• Kennedy (b. 1917)
• Khrushchev (b.
1894)
2. THINK POLITICS
• Nassau, 1962
• Skybolt → Polaris
3. BEWARE NODS & WINKS
• Blair & Bush
• Iraq War, 2002-3
4. WATCH YOUR
STEREOTYPES
• Thatcher & Kohl
5. TEAMWORK
• Reagan & Gorbachev
• Shultz & Shevardnadze
• + Interpreters
6. PLAY IT LONG
• John Major & Albert
Reynolds, 1993
• Tony Blair & Bertie
Ahern, 1998
HISTORY AND POLICY?
• 1. Case studies from the past that may
ring bells for current leaders.
• 2. A larger sense of process, beyond
normal short-termism.
• 3. History is not a body of facts. But a
way of thinking – ‘thinking in time’.
THINKING IN TIME
• The Key Question is . . .
• NOT
‘What’s the problem?’
• BUT
‘What’s the story?’
• ‘How did we get into this mess?’
• To help see how to get out of it.

similar documents