Yellow banner with pen and letters

author: Geoff Berridge

Journeying Far and Wide: A Political and Diplomatic Memoir

1993

Kaiser was an active Democrat and 'noncareer officer' in the US Foreign Service under three Democratic presidents: Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter. His memoir, which is uncluttered with the trivial detail sometimes found in this genre and written with great verve, will be valued by diplomatic historians of the whole period since the Second World War. (Kaiser had served earlier as Assistant Secretary of Labor for International Affairs in the Truman administration.)

Students of diplomacy will also find it of interest, and for us chapters 6-9 are probably the most important. From 1961 until 1963 Kaiser was US ambassador to Senegal and Mauritania (chapter 6), and from 1964 until 1969 number two at the US embassy in London (chapter 7). With Nixon in the White House, Kaiser was out of the embassy but he remained in London, almost – it seems – as a political exile from Washington. Though earning his living as chairman and managing director of the British branch of Encyclopaedia Brittanica, he was also active in ‘Democrats Abroad’, and he received his reward when Jimmy Carter was elected president in 1976. First, he was sent as ambassador to Hungary (chapter 8), and then in 1980 as ambassador to Austria (chapter 9).

There is evidence on and in some cases discussion of many interesting general points concerning diplomacy in this vigorous memoir. For example, in his chapter on Africa Kaiser indirectly takes a well-aimed swipe at a fashionable canard by reporting Kennedy’s view that in fact the independence of an ambassador varies with postings: ‘There [Africa] … a chief of mission was on his own, in contrast to Bonn, Paris, and London, where the main business was done by telephone from Washington and through regular visits from the secretary of state and other top officials’ (p. 182). Later, however, with a convincing attack on the ‘arrogance’ of the Kissinger/Brzezinski doctrine that modern communications have made ambassadors obsolete (pp. 262-3), he makes abundantly clear his view that while Kennedy’s contrast is a good one it is somewhat overdrawn. And well he might, for it is in part no doubt as a result of this attitude that the Foreign Service, as he points out, is still ‘a stepchild’ of the government and attracts relatively meagre resources. And, with his bitterness thinly concealed, he notes that it receives this treatment despite being ‘the first line of national defense’. Indeed, Kaiser concludes his final main chapter with this striking paragraph: ‘We should not forget’, he writes, ‘that in the past thirty years, a period that included the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf conflict, more ambassadors have been killed than generals and admirals, and more Foreign Service employees have lost their lives than agents of the FBI’.

Among other points of general interest, Kaiser provides more evidence in the chapter on the London embassy on why US diplomats dread visitations by congressional delegations (pp. 247-8). In his account of his time in Hungary he also demonstrates that ambassadors are still sometimes heavily involved in important and sensitive negotiations, in this case notably MFN status and the question of the return to Hungary from the United States of the Crown of St. Stephen. Among other things, Kaiser had the task – which he performed successfully – of asking the Hungarian Communist leader, János Kádár, if he would mind absenting himself from Budapest on the day of the Crown’s homecoming. (I would like to have seen Brzezinski negotiate that over the telephone.) It is also extremely useful to have a close-up view of the attitudes and style of operation of the great Austrian statesman, Bruno Kreisky, and be reminded of the role that he sought to play in mediating an end to the Iran hostages crisis (pp. 314-16). While noting that Kreisky failed to secure the release of the US diplomats, Kaiser implies that he is entitled to some credit for the fact that none of them was put on trial in Teheran. Finally, Kaiser provides a very balanced analysis of the pros and cons of employing ‘noncareer ambassadors’ in the US Foreign Service, and is particularly outspoken in his condemnation of the rough treatment they invariably receive from incoming presidents of the opposite party. In 1981, Ronald Reagan’s administration ‘behaved more rudely than any predecessor’, giving Kaiser and his noncareer colleagues just two weeks to get out of their embassies. It is perhaps not altogether surprising that there is a sharp and refreshing edge to this particular diplomatic memoir.

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Building relations through multi-dialogue formats: Trends in bilateral diplomacy

FDR’s Ambassadors and the Diplomacy of Crisis: From the rise of Hitler to the end of World War II

What effect did personality and circumstance have on US foreign policy during World War II? This incisive account of US envoys residing in the major belligerent countries – Japan, Germany, Italy, China, France, Great Britain, USSR – highlights the fascinating role played by such diplomats as Joseph Grew, William Dodd, William Bullitt, Joseph Kennedy and W. Averell Harriman. Between Hitler's 1933 ascent to power and the 1945 bombing of Nagasaki, US ambassadors sculpted formal policy – occasionally deliberately, other times inadvertently – giving shape and meaning not always intended by ...

Public diplomacy: Taxonomies and histories

Inside Diplomacy

This is a book on diplomacy in general and the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) in particular. It is also a gem, and a large gem. It breathes life, wisdom, and good humour, and is full of rich detail. I found it thoroughly absorbing. Students of diplomacy at all stages of their careers will find it immensely useful, while those in a position to influence the future shape of the IFS will discover a whole raft of constructive suggestions for reform fearlessly advanced.

Multi-Track Diplomacy: A systems approach to peace

Leaders’ rhetoric and preventive diplomacy – issues we are ignorant about

In this paper, Drazen Pehar analyses the argumentation made by George Lakoff of the University of California at Berkeley in his seminal paper on ‘Metaphor and War’, in which he tried to deconstruct the rhetoric U.S. president George Bush used to justify the war in the Gulf. He also analyses a reading by psycho-historian Lloyd deMause, whose theory differs from Lakoff’s. Throughout his analysis, Pehar describes the role of rhetoric in diplomatic prevention of armed conflicts, and its several functions, and concludes that the methods of preventive diplomacy depend heavily on the theory of...

Diplomacy for a Crowded World

A Selection of New diplomatic memoirs

I have just written a review article on these six books of British diplomatic memoirs for the English Historical Journal, so here I shall just provide some notes on those that I believe to be most valuable to students of diplomacy.

The Cinderella Service: British Consuls since 1825

The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell diaries

Until his resignation amid huge controversy in August 2003, Alastair Campbell was Tony Blair’s official spokesman and director of communications and strategy – ace spin doctor, closest confidante, and constant travelling companion. His diaries have probably been mined chiefly for their astonishing revelations about the internal machinations of his government and the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. However, they should also be read for the sharp and often amusing light they throw on certain aspects of diplomacy.

Positive Diplomacy

Diplomatic Persuasion: An Under-Investigated Process

The under-investigation in diplomatic studies of processes of persuasion in explaining diplomatic outcomes needs to be addressed in the interests of better scholarly explanations and diplomatic practice. Although such processes are implicit in nearly all concepts and practice of diplomacy, neither scholars nor practitioners explicitly investigate them. Yet other related fields of study and disciplines examine persuasion and demonstrate its explanatory value.

Diplomatic culture and its domestic context

Is there a specific, distinctive diplomatic culture? Given the fact that the conduct of diplomacy is regulated by international law and by custom, and since the structures through which states conduct their external relations, both bilateral and multilateral, are standardized, it is fair to say that both the institutions and the process form a pattern of their own, unique to this profession. The professional diplomatist actors on the international stage, and their institutions, display certain shared characteristics.

Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, 2nd edn

I’ll be with you in a Minute Mr. Ambassador: The Education of a canadian Diplomat in Washington

Last Man Standing: Memoirs of a political survivor

Jack Straw was the ablest and wisest of Tony Blair’s foreign secretaries and served in this capacity from 2001 until he was ungratefully dumped without warning by his leader in 2006. Afterwards he hit the headlines by courageously publishing his dislike of the full veil worn my some Muslim women, on the grounds that this was such a visible statement of separation and difference that it complicated community relations and was, in any case, a cultural preference rather than a religious obligation. (Straw was then and still is the Labour MP for a Bradford constituency with a large Muslim popula...

Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, 3rd edn

Diplomatic Education

Diplomatic Education’ was published as Chapter 11 in: An Anthology Celebrating the Twentieth Anniversary of the Higher Colleges of Technology, ed. Tayeb A Kamali, (HCT Press, UAE, 2007).

Persuasion: bad practices and … others

Persuasion is a very relative concept. Like beauty, persuasion is the eye of the beholder. Admittedly, persuasion does not exist in the absence of results. One can say that persuasion can be defined as such, if and only if it is effective and reaches its goals. If we accept this prerequisite, we may find persuasion where we least expect it.

The New Diplomacy

A Diplomat in Siam (introduced and edited by Nigel Brailey)

Nigel Brailey, a University of Bristol historian who is well known to students of Sir Ernest Satow, is to be congratulated on bringing out a revised edition of this work, the fruit of Satow's period as British minister-resident in Bangkok from 1885 until 1888. It is the journal which Satow, later the author of the famous Guide to Diplomatic Practice, kept on his long boat journey from Bangkok to the northern city of Chiangmai and back again, which took from the beginning of December 1885 until the end of the following February.

Theatre of Power: The Art of Signaling

The Work of Diplomacy

International Regimes

The Summer Capitals of Europe, 1814-1919

This is an original work, meticulously researched, rich in detail, and written in a clear and – here and there – refreshingly pungent style. Soroka is a Russian scholar but at ease in English.

Preventive Diplomacy in Southeast Asia: Redefining the ASEAN Way

All Fall Down: America’s fateful encounter with Iran

All Fall Down is the definitive chronicle of Americas experience with the Iranian revolution and the hostage crisis of 1978-81. Drawing on internal government documents, it recounts the controversies, decisions and uncertainties that made this a unique chapter in modern American history. From his personal experiences, the author draws revealing portraits of the people who engaged in this test of wills with an Islamic revolutionary regime.

Diplomacy by other means

Diplomacy by other means

Renaissance Diplomacy and the Reformation

We invite you to continue our walk along timeline of Evolution of diplomacy and technology. In May, our next stop is Renaissance diplomacy and the impact of the invention of the printing press on diplomacy in the Reformation period.

DC Confidential: The controversial memoirs of Britain’s ambassador to the U.S. at the time of 9/11 and the Iraq War

The publication of these memoirs in autumn 2005 caused a public furore in Britain so I shall not waste time giving any background on Sir Christopher Meyer. (Just punch his name into Google, which will enable you in the blink of an eye even to find out from the BBC website which records he chose when he appeared on Desert Island Discs.)

The Practice of Diplomacy: Its evolution, theory and administration

First published in 1995, the long-awaited second edition of this valuable textbook on the history of diplomacy has at last appeared. The first chapter has been expanded to include non-European traditions, and a wholly new chapter has been added to take account of developments over the last 15 years. It is for the main part a work of relaxed authority, clearly written, and – unusually for an introductory work – full of intriguing detail which it would be difficult if not impossible to find in other secondary sources.

Just a Diplomat

Close students of the new, Conservative Party Mayor of London, the at once engaging and alarming Boris Johnson, will know that he has Turkish cousins. One of these is Sinan Kuneralp, a son of the late Zeki Kuneralp, probably the most distinguished and well liked Turkish diplomat of his generation. Sinan Kuneralp is a scholar-publisher and runs The Isis Press in Istanbul, a house at the forefront of publishing scholarly works and original documents on the Ottoman Empire, chiefly in English and French. The three works noticed here are all its products and reflect the publisher’s own special in...

The Practice of Diplomacy, 2nd ed

The Queen’s Ambassador to the Sultan: Memoirs of Sir Henry A. Layard’s Constantinople Embassy, 1877-1880

Once more students of Ottoman diplomatic history are in debt to the scholar-publisher, Sinan Kuneralp, for Sir Henry Layard was one of the most remarkable and controversial of British ambassadors to Turkey in the nineteenth century and served there during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-8 – and yet the volumes of his memoirs dealing with this period have hitherto languished unpublished in the British Library, in part perhaps because of their size. (Layard admits himself to having been ‘somewhat minute, perhaps a great deal too much so’, p. 692.)They are here published almost in their entir...

The Diplomats, 1939-1979

Switzerland’s good offices: a changing concept, 1945-2002

The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy

The 21st Century Ambassador: Plenipotentiary to Chief Executive

Ambassador Kishan Rana, a diplomatist for four decades, is now a noted scholar and theorist of international relations and the new diplomacy that has evolved.

Pragmatics in diplomatic exchanges

Part of Language and Diplomacy (2001): Edmond Pascual interprets diplomatic communication with the linguistic tools of pragmatics. He begins by reminding us that while the diplomat is a "man of action," the particular nature of the diplomat's action is that it consists of speech. Pascual applies three concepts of pragmatics to diplomatic discourse: speech as an intentional act; the effects of the act of speech; and the role of the unsaid in the act of speech.

Ottoman Diplomacy

True Brits: Inside the Foreign Office

Performance Management in Foreign Ministries: Corporate Techniques in the Diplomatic Service

Diplomacy at the Cutting Edge

I started writing a memoire in 1998, but on a long train journey in Germany (Stuttgart to Essen), accompanied by my wonderful wife Mimi, a thought came that it might be much more interesting to write about how the Indian diplomatic system works – or does not really work. That became my first book, Inside Diplomacy (1999). Diplomacy at the Cutting Edge, first published in 2015, is that delayed memoire.

The Evolution of Diplomatic Method

The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell Diaries

Reveiw by Geoff Berridge

Statecraft

Satow’s Diplomatic Practice, 6th ed

Satow’s Diplomatic Practice is a classic work, first published 90 years ago and revised four times since. This is the first revised edition for thirty years, during which time the world and diplomacy have changed almost beyond recognition. The new edition provides an enlarged and updated section on the history of diplomacy and revises comprehensively […]

Preventive Diplomacy: Stopping Wars Before they Start

Reforming Diplomacy: Clear Choices, New Emphases