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Do you think the institutions of the ‘old’ diplomacy have any contemporary relevance?

by on December 23, 2012

There is no question in our mind that Diplomacy is the major means that states across the world uses to pursuer their foreign policies. The early 20th century saw the French system of modified and transformed the institution of diplomacy. Open diplomacy and permanent conferences like the league of nation and the United Nations has now promoted the existing network of bilateral communications.

Fast-forward to the 21st century and all new kinds of challenges have resulted from interdependence among states. Among these challenges is globalization which has had a determining impact of the conduct of diplomacy. The ‘Old ‘Diplomacy in the past centuries has now become multifaceted, plural-directional and intensive. This is because of the increased complexity in terms of actors, dialogues subjects and modes of communication.The question is does this old diplomacy have any contemporary relevancy nowadays? This article will discuss how diplomacy played a major role to end the Cold War.

File:Reagan-Gorbachev shaking hands 1987-12-07 C44091-30.jpg

US President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev shaking hands at the US-Soviet summit in Washington, D.C..

The Cold War dominated international relations until the early 1990s. The conflict occurred between the United States of America and the Soviet Union and was often fought by third parties provide with money and resources given to them by these two superpowers. Both sides would support anti-colonial and national liberation movements around the world, particularly in the underdeveloped and developing world, as they sought to pursue their own political and economic global influence.  This resulted in Proxy Wars that lead to overthrow of government in developing countries and the death of many people. The conflict between the two super powers reached its peak during the 1962 with the Cuban Missile Crisis. The competition between them could have extended well into the 21st century or it could have ended in a nuclear confrontation.  There was no apparent end to it until the appointment of Mikhail Gorbachev as the new leader of the Communist Party of the USSR in 1985 and saw a dramatic shift in policy.

Mikhail Gorbachev recalls telling his wife Raisa that “we can’t go on living like this” (Gaddis J, 2007 P229). Gorbachev’s agenda was to transform both the internal politics and economy of his own country and to revolutionise relations with the rest of the world. He made decisions to withdrawal Soviet troops from Afghanistan and to cut down support for Marxist regimes in developing countries. He initiated a series of Summit meeting with President Ronald Reagan and discussions about the end of the conflicts through diplomacy began. The main difference between Gorbachev, as a foreign policy-maker, and the previous Soviet leaders was his ability to learn from his diplomatic interactions. After the end of the Regan administration, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and President Bush held a summit meeting at Malta and negotiated important reductions in intermediate range nuclear weapons.Gorbachev and George H. W. Bush, 1990


These series of meeting between the USA and the Soviet Union was successfully largely because of skilful diplomacy that was adopted and was able to prevent a violent end to the Cold War.The end of the Cold War appeared to promise a reduction in global tension and the threat of nuclear war. For some, notably the liberals, most of us won at the end of the Cold War as we enjoy the benefits of democracy and free markets. For others, no one won as instability, anarchy and cultural conflict have arisen. Nevertheless, had it not been the use of the institutions of the ‘old’ diplomacy during the cold war, who knows? Maybe we might not be here.


File:Barack Obama & Joe Biden with Mikhail Gorbachev 3-20.09.jpgGorbachev (right) being introduced to Barack Obama by Joe Biden, 20 March 2009



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One Comment
  1. haytami1 permalink

    I think Gorbachev Played a historic role and ended the long period of the Cold War between the east and west. He was intended to dismantle the arch-enemy of the Soviet Union in a wise manner without bloodshed and he give the west piece of rest after the collapse of the USSR as an economic and military power

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