Sunday 13 July 2014

'Diplomacy does not exist'—diplomats are servants of the diplomatic frame

From Costas Constantinou's On the Way to Diplomacy:
[…] diplomatic representation functions through simulation, for simulation is traditionally also the art of diplomacy. Simulation is an art, a technique that involves a secret and a challenge. The secret is that diplomacy does not exist. The challenge is to make diplomacy appear. In diplomatic representation, consequently, there is an ironic and fatal alliance, an inaugural quid pro quo between all the subjects involved […] The reality of these diplomatic representations is, therefore, self-referential. It is based on metaphysical rationality that produces its own closure. It involves the capacity to produce a metaphysical picture, to paint articulations, and to frame presences and absences. (p.21)
Modern ambassadors are trained to make present the unrepresentable and to see what cannot be seen. They are trained to get the picture and to get into the picture. That is why the ambassadors are enframed, worked in a similar way to those of "The Ambassadors [see below]." (p.22)
Ambassadors are part of and responsible for the diplomatic frame-up—the very construction and animation of the diplomatic world they live in. In and through their confident diplomatic representations, ambassadors normalize the frame-up as the framework. Working within this so-called normal framework they are claimed by their representations and so enter into a power relationship, a relationship of discursive and historical servitude. (Note that the word ambassador stems from the Latin word ambactus, meaning servant.) (p.22)
The primary role of this incredible service is to make credible representations. For diplomatic representation always involves an act of faith (in the picture). It needs to be accredited. Just as ambassadors are required to present their credentials before they can represent, diplomatic representation also needs to be credited itself with establishing a sovereign presence. (p.22)