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Barbara July 04, 2017

Very interesting blog post, Katharina! One thought that came to my mind is that probably every generation thinks that they are living in new and modern times, with changing concepts and frameworks of thought. It would be interesting to see whether the perception of novelty in diplomacy is something new in itself, or whether this has had a long background (for example, in the mid-20th century there might already be notions of 'new' diplomacy, and maybe in the decades or even centuries before as well). If there have always been ideas of new actors and new topics on the agenda, then our current 'new diplomacy' might really be an 'imposter in new clothing', and the addition of 'new' might in fact be a characteristic of traditional diplomacy, which might have always defined its borders by connoting it with novelty. Voilà, here's my plea for historical research!
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Katharina Hone July 04, 2017

Hi Barbara, thanks for the comment. This is spot on. In fact, new diplomacy is not new at all. When president Wilson declared his 14 points in 1918 - among them the call for 'open covenants ... openly arrived at', come called it ‘new diplomacy’. Of course, this was more aspiration than actual practice. Prof Berridge argues that the term is simply used to describe the latest fashion trend in diplomacy - without much substance. So, indeed, new diplomacies are not new. And while diplomacy has always been adapting as a practice, there might be an unchanging core. I fully support your point that every generation likes to think of itself as new and very different than in the past - when it might not actually be. That is the interesting question. I am not sure if we can say that we are at some kind of turning point, but aspects of the practice of diplomacy are changing, when compared to, for example, 1917. Information and Communication Technology plays a pivotal role.

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