GUIA DE ESTUDOS PARA O CONCURSO DE ADMISSÃO À CARREIRA DE DIPLOMATA
Read the following text on Diplomacy and Democracy and, in the light of it and any of the ideas raised in the texts in Parts 1 & 2 above, assess the benefits and drawbacks of public diplomacy (in which media exposure enhances the emotional dimension) as compared with diplomacy as a rational, technical activity entrusted to specialists.
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote as follows in his classic 1835 book Democracy in America, defining a problem of democratic governance that is as old as the Greeks: "Foreign politics demand scarcely any of those qualities which are peculiar to a democracy; they require, on the contrary, the perfect use of almost all those in which it is deficient. A democracy can only with great difficulty regulate the details of an important undertaking, persevere in a fixed design, and work out its execution in spite of serious obstacles. It cannot combine its measures with secrecy or await their consequences with patience."
The problem Tocqueville examined then has become far more acute now. Public awareness has increased and the media are far more intrusive. But neither has kept pace with the growing complexity of foreign policy issues. No country can or should, for instance, join the World Trade Organisation (WTO) without the people's support. How few of them, though, know or can know enough to form an opinion on the issue?
The dilemma persists because it is inherent in a democracy — the volatility and power of public opinion and the weaknesses of democratic leadership. Not seldom, the preference of the majority is at odds with the requirements of sound policy, domestic or foreign. Not seldom an issue of foreign policy arouses the people from the slumber that is the norm, to shake them with paroxyms of moral outrage. Few are the leaders who have the moral fibre, the political skill and the intellectual muscle required to explain such realities to them. Having ignored the rumblings, most opt for mere survival when the crisis bursts into the open.
Hans J. Morgenthau traces the dilemma to its roots — the statesman, as distinct from the common politician, has to reckon with considerations which the populace cannot grasp. "The statesman must think in terms of the national interest, conceived as power among other powers. The popular mind reasons in the simple moralistic and legalistic terms of absolute good and absolute evil. The statesman must take the long view, proceeding slowly and by detours, paying with small losses for great advantages; he must be able to temporise, to compromise, to bide his time. The popular mind wants quick results; it will sacrifice tomorrow's real benefit for today's apparent advantage. By a psychological paradox, the most vociferous and compromising representatives of what is least conducive to the successful conduct of foreign policy are generally politicians who in their own constituencies would not dream of acting the way they expect the framers of foreign policy to act... The daily routine of their political lives is devoid of those moral and intellectual qualities which they really admire, which to the public they pretend to possess, and which they wish they were able to practise... they make foreign policy over into a sort of fairy-land where virtue triumphs and vice is punished, where heroes fight for principle without thought of consequence, and where the knight in shining armour comes to the succour of the ravished nation, taking the villain's life even though he might in the process lose his own."
Leaders have four options. One is simply to sail with the wind of public opinion and treat public opinion polls as the supreme guide. The second is to educate public opinion in the realities of the times. A British diplomat, Lord Vansittart, sharply defined this age-old problem: "How to induce the unwilling to accept the unavoidable."
The third option is to mislead and corrupt public opinion — and cite the result in