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What Good is Diplomacy?

October 16, 2017

Antony Blinken, Herter/Nitze Distinguished Scholar at the Foreign Policy Institute
Chester Crocker ’65, PhD ’70, Professor in the Practice of Strategic Studies, Georgetown University and former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

In what experts called "challenging times" for US diplomacy, the Conflict Management program hosted a discussion of former senior members of the US Department of State to assess the nation's role and importance on the global stage. 

Antony Blinken gave an overview of recent setbacks for US diplomacy, including skepticism against global engagement, the high number of key State Department positions left unfilled by the current administration, deep cuts of 30 percent to the State Department's budget and especially to its programs supporting democracy and development overseas. Is the age of diplomacy over?, Blinken asked. 

Blinken argued that the world's future would be far darker if the US was disengaged from global affairs. He cited examples of positive results achieved recently through US diplomacy, including the coalition of nations fighting against ISIS, the response to public health crises such as Ebola and HIV/AIDS, the Paris climate accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and the Iran nuclear deal. 

Chester Crocker of Georgetown University moderated questions and answers which explored the reasons the American populace has grown skeptical of diplomacy, and how US diplomacy can be most effectively exercised. Blinken and Crocker agreed that, even in this time of global uncertainty and chaos, they have more confidence than ever in the power of diplomacy to help the US navigate turmoil, guard against its risks, and to take advantage of global opportunities.