JOIN US

Copeland: Should U.S. diplomats meet with Hamas leaders when conducting ‘shuttle diplomacy’ in the Middle East?

By: /
23 November, 2012

Diplomacy privileges talking over fighting.

War is its antithesis, testament to its failure.

Yet diplomacy is widely misunderstood, not only by the public and the press, but by governments and, not least, by many serving diplomats.

What is it? As a non-violent approach to the management of international relations, diplomacy is characterized by dialogue, negotiation and compromise. Complex balancing and knowledge-based problem-solving are key contemporary elements.

Diplomacy’s comparative advantage over other policy instruments – through active listening and nuanced understanding – resides in its potential to change behavior at both ends of the conversation. When the diplomatic exchange is meaningful, which is to say when the communication is genuinely two-way and effective, differences can be reconciled and bargains struck.

In short, diplomacy works, and is much less less costly than the use of armed force, but it is rarely allowed to perform up to its potential.

So… should American diplomats meet with Hamas leaders?

Of course, and for many of the same reasons that they are now talking to the Taliban.

It is not necessary to approve of your interlocutor, or the positions and policies they represent, in order to engage in real international political communication.

Before you click away, we’d like to ask you for a favour … 

Journalism in Canada has suffered a devastating decline over the last two decades. Dozens of newspapers and outlets have shuttered. Remaining newsrooms are smaller. Nowhere is this erosion more acute than in the coverage of foreign policy and international news. It’s expensive, and Canadians, oceans away from most international upheavals, pay the outside world comparatively little attention.

At Open Canada, we believe this must change. If anything, the pandemic has taught us we can’t afford to ignore the changing world. What’s more, we believe, most Canadians don’t want to. Many of us, after all, come from somewhere else and have connections that reach around the world.

Our mission is to build a conversation that involves everyone — not just politicians, academics and policy makers. We need your help to do so. Your support helps us find stories and pay writers to tell them. It helps us grow that conversation. It helps us encourage more Canadians to play an active role in shaping our country’s place in the world.

Become a Supporter