Sunday, April 24, 2011

COD -- Conversations on Diplomacy

Forget the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner! There's a new hot ticket in D.C.

According to the State Department's website, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is holding a series of mediated "Conversations on Diplomacy" with Former Secretary Henry Kissinger, the man who literally wrote the book on diplomacy.

The first of these conversations was held on April 20 and was "open to a limited number of invited press." So, short of calling up the Salahis, how exactly does one finagle an invitation to this event?

Fear not! For those of us whose wonkish bona fides didn't merit an invitation, Reuters provides a little teaser and the welcome news that PBS will broadcast the event on Wednesday. Plus, the transcript is available online.

Here are some highlights:

On diplomacy:

Clinton: "In this first part of the 21st century we clearly continue to spend an extraordinary amount of our time on state-to-state relationships. But we increasingly are focused on networks, on multilateral relationships and organizations, on charting the changes that are sweeping the world, many of them driven by technology and trying to understand the implications of those changes for the decisions that we make here."

Kissinger: "The art of foreign policy is to operate at the limit of your power but not to go beyond it, and to recognize that other countries must feel they’re part of the international system or the tensions become unmanageable."

On China:

Kissinger: "Normally, the emergence of new powers has led -- has been characterized by enormous rivalries. And there are points where we impact on each other in a way that could generate rivalries. On the other hand, there is no constructive outcome to a long, drawn-out contest between the United States and China. So both of our countries have an obligation to try to construct an international environment in which parallel evolutions, I don’t say necessary, but parallel evolutions we contribute to peace -- to peace and progress. And that has difficulties because our societies have had quite different origins."

A Secretarial Conversation: Source
Clinton: "My first trip to China as Secretary of State, I’m sitting there with the foreign minister. He says we think it’s a very unfortunate decision that the United States has made and reflects on our relationship that you’re not participating in the Shanghai Expo. First of all, I didn’t know there was going to be a Shanghai Expo...And a decision had been made in the prior administration that we don’t do expos anymore. So here’s China about to hold this very significant expo, and we and I think Andorra are the only countries not participating. And to explain to a group of high Chinese officials that it wasn’t a decision that carried with it anything other than our Congress’s allergy to expos anywhere in the world was nearly impossible. So I spent the first six months putting together an expo, something that was not in the job description. But it was a very important signal of our commitment to the relationship even though it doesn’t fall into one of the 10 or 20 issues that we might be listing."

On communication:

Clinton: "The flood of information that now comes to us, not just from traditional media but from all of the new forms of media, we’re just as likely to see events starting from Twitter feeds as from the statements of heads of state. And, therefore, we’ve had to adjust, and it has been one of my goals as Secretary of State to really look at 21st century statecraft and to recognize the increasing role that people-to-people diplomacy plays in assisting the United States in understanding trends, and in influencing decisions."

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