Diplomacy is a sleeper of a career. Getting along with other nations requires many tiny acts of cooperation. Interacting with another nation’s culture, people, and customs, is one way to learn what matters, even what words mean and thus how to communicate intelligently with others in that country.
Learning more about a nation takes study, research, and concentration. In some instances, the host nation does not want everything to be known; that requires stealth and prying to learn what is important. Not a nice part of diplomacy, but often quite necessary. This is the dark side of diplomacy. We have decades of Cold War experience to understand why organizations like the CIA and KGB were and remain important mechanisms in diplomatic circles.
In relationships like Russia and the USA, much is said about actions large and small. Mountains of concern are heaped in front of us on network news programs. Threats and dangers are paraded routinely – why is Russia staging military maneuvers near Finland, Ukraine, Crimea, the Middle East, and so on? Sneers and insults lobbed by Putin toward Biden and America in general are treated as prime Cold War fodder to rile the audience. Why? Do these actions actually occur? Are they as important a they are made to seem, or are they exaggerated for effect? Are we reading too much into it? Or what?
That’s when I would like to be a fly on the wall of meetings between Biden and Putin. What did they actually say? How did they appear? Were they truly friendly or was it all for show? Did they get any personal time with each other in private when they could talk plainly? How much of this is show? How much of this is real?
I guess we will never really know. One thing that comforts me, however, is knowing that cool minds do communicate with one another often. Just knowing that relationship is functional calms my fears. I do not want Russia, China and the USA acting like schoolyard bullies when patience wears thin and brash action takes place. I want our leaders to calmly discuss important matters and get along with one another. That builds trust and positive actions. That keeps the peace and constructive interactions.
I do not expect China or Russia to love America. I do expect them to get along with us. We should get along with them, too. Talking is a good thing. Seeing our common humanity is settling. Knowing what each country fears about the other is a good thing. Knowing what each needs is another. Often, we can help one another ease the fear and satisfy need. Little things pop up. They are attended to. They do not grow into larger issues to fight over.
No; we learn to get along in a violent and uneasy world. That is what diplomacy is supposed to do. Keeping calm. Building peace. Even when times are uneasy.
I am happy Putin and Biden are talking. I like to see them shaking hands and smiling at one another. It means other matters can be discussed and managed. It means reason and logic remain in place for another day.
It seems a small matter. But it is not. This is the slow, plodding routine of diplomacy. It is necessary. And the basis for future.
June 21, 2021