diplomatic engagement

CPD Fellow Vivian Walker looks at what the Peloponnesian War can teach us about today's foreign policy.

Cari Guittard's advice for how both state and non-state actors can connect with the public under the current president.

In his State of the Union address, the President’s core message was that the US has emerged strong from the twin crises caused by the 2001 terrorist attacks and the 2008 global recession. And the challenge he posed to Congress on foreign policy is this. Do we want to continue to operate in crisis mode – being fearful, reactive, and prone to overuse military force in ways that exacerbate security problems and contradict basic values?

The Mahinda Rajapaksa government has been outstanding in fighting terrorism at home but has fared disastrously in diplomacy. This is in marked contrast to the Chandrika Kumaratunge government whose record in fighting terrorism at home was an absolute disaster but was outstanding in its efforts diplomatically getting the LTTE proscribed as a terrorist organisation by most of the important Western nations.

Confronted with the shortcomings of international political processes many scholars and diplomats have frequently turned to the non-governmental sphere in search of more practical action on global challenges. It is not uncommon to find today calls for global civil society engagement, public-private partnerships, and citizen diplomacy in almost all contexts of international relations.

It is therefore important that the debate on how diplomatic missions can facilitate trade relations between Kenya and their host countries considers several other factors, including capacity-building at the ministry level and the ability of Kenyan suppliers to deliver goods on time.

The government needs to have strong universities and think thanks where thinking on national security, foreign policy and international security is done... Careers in national security for young minds should be created. Security agencies should be professionalized. The government’s interface with the public through coordinated public diplomacy must be encouraged.