Tag Archive | "diplomacy"

Logo_Review2014 (2)

Critical Analysis: Germany takes center stage in diplomacy


Credit: http://www.zif-berlin.org/fileadmin/uploads/ueber_zif/bilder/News-Bilder/Logo_Review2014.png

In order to reevaluate its foreign policy approach, Germany conducted a review (“Review 2014”) last year.  Review 2014 included multiple town hall meetings with German voters and debates among foreign policy experts around the world.  Even during Review 2014, voters’ and experts’ opinions and approaches changed.  Initially, the majority of German voters disagreed with the statement “Germany should be more engaged internationally.”  This position changed, however, as 2014 progressed.

When looking back at 2014, and the world events contained therein, it is no wonder Review 2014 transformed.  The Ebola crisis in Africa; Ukraine, Russia, and Crimea dispute; continued fighting between Israel and Hamas; the rise of ISIS; and the revival of the Euro crisis when Greece rebelled against austerity just to name of few, the Western powers were spread thin.  Germany, as France was preoccupied in Africa, the United States involved in the Middle East, and the United Kingdom taking, what some would say, a negligible stance on foreign policy, left Germany to attend to the crises occurring in Europe: Ukraine, Russia, and Crimea and the Euro and Greece.

Chancellor Angela Merkel showed her stamina in diplomacy when working to resolve these disputes.  Chancellor Merkel takes the approach that it is always better to keep talking than to fuel conflict.  Germany’s history essentially forces Germany to take this approach, however.  World War II and the politics surround the Berlin Wall are still too fresh to ignore.  Any fueling of the fire or unilateral action by Germany, automatically brings back feelings of a not so distant past.  Regardless of why Germany and Chancellor Merkel takes this approach, their persistent diplomacy and “ethical” methodology sits well with German citizens.

As a result of these events and Germany’s responses, Review 2014 led to the following goals:

These goals were posted online where Review 2014 encourages visitors to continue the conversation as Germany’s foreign policy evolves.

Review 2014 has evolved into a social platform to discuss and change Germany’s foreign policy approach.  Should other countries use a similar review process to address foreign policy or is this process unique to Germany?  Engaging citizens is never a bad idea and it would not be surprising to learn that the majority of Western citizens likely agree with the statement “speak softly and carry a big stick,” putting diplomacy before fueling a conflict.  However, other Western countries do not need to tread as lightly when making changes to foreign policy because they do not have the same recent tainted past.  Opening up discussions regarding politics to citizens using a social platform appears to be a unique way to communicate with voters, but let’s withhold any firm judgment for 18 months to see what Germany does with the goals from Review 2014.

Alicia Guber is a 3L and the Editor in Chief on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy. 

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A Libyan protestor waves outside the U.S. consulate compound. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/libya-consulate-attack_n_1878798.html#slide=1508286

Critical Analysis: The Diplomatic Irony-A Fine Line Between Peace and Violence


A Libyan protestor waves outside the U.S. consulate compound
(Huffington Post)

Late at night on September 11, 2012, the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya came under fire from a violent mob.  The protesters swarmed and set fire to the embassy, and American and Libyan forces did not regain control until 2:00 A.M., roughly four hours after the attackers first stormed the premises.  Four Americans were killed during the attack, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.  On a day already sensitive to Americans for the powerful memories of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United 93, the assault on an American embassy raises questions about our foreign policy in the Middle East.

The protests outside the embassy were apparently in response to an inflammatory anti-Muslim video, which provoked similar responses in Egypt.  Adding confusion to the issue, the identity of the filmmaker is unknown; the person is rumored to be either Coptic Christian or Jewish.  While its maker remains a mystery, the video’s very existence emphasizes the potential dangers for a diplomat in an unstable region.  American ambassadors and their staff received recommendations to leave certain countries, including Libya, soon after the offensive video appeared on YouTube.  For officials whose jobs require monitoring, understanding, and improving volatile situations, there is a thin line between working in diplomacy and being thrown into aggression.

An ambassador’s responsibilities are based on trying to improve relations through diplomatic efforts.  This results in an ironic foreign policy situation for ambassadors in hostile or unstable areas, such as the Middle East.  The envoy must become established as a peaceful, non-threatening person who takes a genuine interest in the country.  Stevens appears to have achieved that objective.  During his service in Libya, he worked to promote the new democratic government and opened the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, despite the possible dangers in a country greatly affected by civil war and continuing violence.

John Limbert, who was among the U.S. embassy staff taken hostage in Iran thirty-three years ago, raises the issue that a consul’s regard for personal safety can undermine diplomatic endeavors.  Limbert notes, “You can’t just hop in your own car and drive off to a dinner somewhere.  You come up with follow cars and chase cars and guys toting guns around.  And then you say ‘I’m from the US government and I’m here to help?’”  When working with U.S. diplomatic staff in Iraq, Limbert tried to convey a less hostile demeanor by wearing no armored clothing and having security with minimal weapons.  Appearing in a less physically threatening manner can improve diplomatic work, even though security is a significant concern for diplomats.

However, U.S. foreign policy on an individual level can only prove effective with a national framework behind it.  After the anti-Muslim video was posted, Stevens’ individual efforts in Libya were not enough to stop violent protests and attacks on the American embassy.  There were still too many tensions due to the United States’ international image to deflect such violence.  The United States needs to reconsider its foreign policy and its foreign image so that its ambassadors will better be able to balance the fine line between diplomacy and hostility.

Tanny Sevy is a 3L at the University of Denver School of Law and the Survey Editor of DJILP. 

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