Associate professor, PhD at the Department of Diplomatic Service and Communication of the Faculty of International Relation of YSU

Nicolson says in his book that the type of people we choose to be diplomats is important. This will surely be proven true as the administration seeks to realize the goals in the National Security Strategy. In concluding a chapter on "The Ideal Diplomat”, Nicolson describes the qualities such professionals possess as "truth, accuracy, calm, patience, good humor, modesty and loyalty.” He continues: "But the reader may object, you have forgotten intelligence, knowledge, discernment, prudence, hospitality, charm, industry, courage and even tact. I have not forgotten them. I have taken them for granted.”

The State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development are benefiting from a welcome, long-overdue infusion of talent, thanks in large part to the efforts of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. A key factor in meeting Nicolson’s high standards for diplomats will be the professional education these new employees receive. The c
urriculum should include respect for the history of American diplomacy, a focus on leadership and accountability, guidance on how to link policy and resources, skill at program direction, and readiness to use new media.

Their training must also combine the transfer of experience with recognition, well highlighted in the NSS that much about the future will be different. Otherwise, as former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban has cautioned, the influence of experience and analogy in the training of diplomats may blind them to the original, unpredictable, innovative factors in international conduct.

This insight is especially relevant to thinking about the point the NSS makes about the importance of developing and supporting a whole-of-government approach to meeting the challenges of this complicated century. Today’s diplomats must be able to work effectively with the interagency community, as well as overseas counterparts, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.

Pres. Obama’s National Security Strategy gets a very great deal right. But we find ourselves, as Nicolson did so many years ago while writing Diplomacy, needing to be careful about how we define our terms. If we can get that task right, diplomacy will receive its due as a national security tool. Equally important, the people we recruit and train to carry out our nation’s diplomatic business will be better prepared to manage the challenges of the 21st century.

Marc Grossman. Speaking out: Defining the Ideal Diplomat; 13-14.
2648 reads | 04.10.2013

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