Independent Diplomat: Dispatches from an Unaccountable Elite

Overview

Although diplomats negotiate more and more aspects of world affairs?from trade and security issues to health, human rights, and the environment?we have little idea of, and even less control over, what they are doing in our name. In Independent Diplomat, Carne Ross provides a compelling account of what's wrong with contemporary diplomacy and offers a bold new vision of how it might be put right.For more than fifteen years, Ross was a British diplomat on the frontlines of numerous international crises, including ...
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Overview

Although diplomats negotiate more and more aspects of world affairs—from trade and security issues to health, human rights, and the environment—we have little idea of, and even less control over, what they are doing in our name. In Independent Diplomat, Carne Ross provides a compelling account of what's wrong with contemporary diplomacy and offers a bold new vision of how it might be put right.For more than fifteen years, Ross was a British diplomat on the frontlines of numerous international crises, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Afghanistan, and the buildup to the invasion of Iraq, over which he eventually resigned from the British civil service. In 2005, he founded Independent Diplomat, a nonprofit advisory firm that offers diplomatic advice and assistance to poor, politically marginalized or inexperienced governments and political groups, including Kosovo, Somaliland, and the Polisario movement in the Western Sahara, as well as to NGOs and other international institutions.Drawing on vivid episodes from his career in Oslo, Bonn, Kabul, and at the UN Security Council, Ross reveals that many of the assumptions that laypersons and even government officials hold about the diplomatic corps are wrong. He argues passionately and persuasively that the institutions of contemporary diplomacy—foreign ministries, the UN, the EU, and the like—often exclude those they most affect. He exposes the very limited range of evidence upon which diplomats base their reports, and the profoundly closed and undemocratic nature of the world's diplomatic forums.As a diplomat, Ross was encouraged to see the world in a narrow way in which the power of states and interests overwhelmed or excluded more complex, sophisticated ways of understanding. As Ross demonstrates, however, the reality of diplomatic negotiations, whether at the UN or among the warlords of Afghanistan, shows different forces at play, factors ignored in reductionist descriptions and academic theories of "international relations." To cope with the complexities of today's world, diplomats must open their doors—and minds—to a far wider range of individuals and groups, concerns and ideas, than the current and increasingly dysfunctional system allows.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Unhappy with American and British claims that Iraq was developing unconventional weapons, Mr. Ross testified in June 2004 at an official inquiry into the British government's use of intelligence. Two months later, convinced he could no longer work in the foreign service, he resigned. . . . But it is his broad critique of the way international diplomacy is conducted that has ruffled feathers the most. In Independent Diplomat, he takes the foreign service to task."—Nicholas Wood, New York Times, March 3, 2007

"Ross argues that nation-states' narrowly-defined interests often overwhelm and exclude more complex, sophisticated ways of understanding . . . . The undemocratic nature of diplomacy, Ross charges, combined with many diplomats' lack of specialized knowledge—whether assigned to conflict-prone countries or to multinational institutions such as the UN or the EU—leads to decision-making largely detached from the needs and concerns of the people in the countries affected."—Ludovic Hood, Foreign Service Journal, May 2007

"This is a rare and honest book about real-life diplomacy, reported from the coal-face. Ross diagnoses much that is wrong with the way diplomacy is practiced today, and offers some cogent—and urgent—solutions."—George Soros

"Carne Ross exposes the absurdity, the ignorance, and the indifference of international bureaucracies, quietly and with clear-sighted accuracy. His prose is ironic, measured, and elegant. His integrity, the nuance of his account, and his self-awareness make him impressive not just as a writer but as a person."—Rory Stewart, author of The Prince of the Marshes and The Places In Between

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801445576
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Series: Crises in World Politics Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Carne Ross served in the British Foreign Office for more than fifteen years. Between 1997 and 1998, he was speechwriter to the British Foreign Secretary. He then spent four and a half years in the UK delegation on the UN Security Council, where he was the UK delegation's Middle East expert, holding the rank of First Secretary, and later served as Strategy Coordinator for the UN in Kosovo (UNMIK), advising the Secretary-General's Special Representative on diplomatic and political tactics. In 2005, after founding Independent Diplomat, he was named by Britain's Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust as one of its seven "visionaries for a just and peaceful world."
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgements     vii
Introduction     1
The Embassy     27
The Negotiation (1)     49
War Stories     71
Them and Us     83
The Telegram or How to Be Ignored     107
The Ambassador     129
Star Trek, Wittgenstein and the Problem with Foreign Policy     151
The Negotiation (2)     165
Independent Diplomat or the Other Side of the Table     187
Conclusion - The End of "Diplomacy"?     203
Notes     227
Index     239
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