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The Courtiers of Civilization

A Study of Diplomacy

Sasson Sofer

Publication Year: 2013

Comprehensive study of the diplomat and the diplomatic mission in Western civilization.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

At the center of this study of diplomacy stands its principal protagonist—the professional diplomat. Our main purpose is to evaluate anew the portrait and the reputation of the diplomatic envoy in Western society. We consider the following three constitutive propositions: first, that practice was always central to the evolution of diplomatic culture; second, that...

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Chapter 1: Notes on the Origins and Evolution of the Diplomatic Mission

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pp. 1-12

Diplomacy has a civilizational standing, and agreed practices common to diverse political entities. It flourishes best in conditions of political fragmentation, where there is a measure of autonomy in the conduct of external affairs, and common norms exist. Diplomacy was founded out of necessity and based on common sense and reciprocity. Watson...

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Chapter 2: Voices for Diplomacy: Statesmen, Diplomats, and Philosophers

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pp. 13-22

Diplomacy evolved less as a product of the human imagination than by the way it was practiced. Despite broad agreement on many aspects of diplomacy, versions of its definition and description abound. While routines, procedures, and settings have been modified or abolished altogether, the nature of diplomacy has an enduring validity. Historians of...

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Chapter 3: Conventions and Rituals

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pp. 23-30

Diplomatic conventions and rituals are often described as unnecessary relics of the past; as petty details and formalities anchored in a conservative tradition barely influenced by the changing international reality; and for the most part devoid of substance. Wicquefort, a keen observer and a canny pragmatist, already complained of the tendency to...

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Chapter 4: The Diplomatic Forum

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pp. 31-38

The diplomatic forum is the “place” where diplomats act as representatives of their states. It is a public sphere, demarcated and ordained as such. The diplomatic forum has some of the properties of the traditional battlefield, at least until the twentieth century. The battlefield always possessed the dual faces of Janus—enshrined and glorified, but...

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Chapter 5: Credentials of Words

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pp. 39-44

The diplomatic dialogue is based on the familiar and shared terminology of diplomatic representatives. Written instructions to ambassadors appeared quite early in the history of diplomacy. Hedley Bull complimented diplomats for being experts in precise and accurate communication, detecting and conveying the nuances of the international...

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Chapter 6: Diplomats and Their Milieu

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pp. 45-54

Diplomacy is a way of life, from apprenticeship to retirement. Throughout, the diplomat dwells in a milieu which is socially artificial, but very real in its demands. As aristocratic privileges have been lost, diplomats now face a domineering bureaucracy, while struggling to reconcile their various roles, abroad and at home.
The aristocracy...

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Chapter 7: The Courtiers of Civilization

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pp. 55-68

The portrayal of the professional diplomat in Western civilization is rather ambiguous, of dubious accuracy, and ultimately testifies to flagrant ingratitude. Diplomats’ predicament is particularly apparent in their clash with rulers and warriors, where it is revealed that they are, after all, victims of their vocation’s call. Ambassadors will continue to be...

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Chapter 8: Diplomacy Reconsidered

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pp. 69-74

At the end of nineteenth century, the decline of diplomacy appeared as a theme that was ultimately never to leave the political discourse. Its persistence attests to diplomacy’s ability, as an institution and an idea, to withstand the onslaught. Diplomacy has had many counselors of despair in modern times. They have presented its dysfunctions, the...


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pp. 75-104


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pp. 105-120


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pp. 121-124

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781438448947
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438448930

Page Count: 138
Publication Year: 2013