Short meanings. Many times will the words “policy” and

Short History of Diplomacy from The Peace of Westphalia till Today


We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

In this work our goal is to briefly go through the history
of modern diplomacy. To overlook how it developed starting from The Peace of
Westphalia till the modern day. More specifically, we will analyze Congress of
Vienna, WW1, Treaty of Versailles, creation of League of Nations, The Cold War,
etc. And see how those historical events affected formation and evolution of
diplomacy as we know it.

What is Democracy?

Diplomacy.has.existed.since.the.beginning.of.the human race. The act
of conducting negotiations between two persons, or two nations at a large scope
is essential to the upkeep of international affairs. Among the many functions
of diplomacy, some include preventing war and violence, and fortifying
relations between two nations. Diplomacy is most importantly used to complete a
specific agenda. Therefore without diplomacy, much of the world’s affairs would
be abolished, international organizations would not exist, and above all the
world would be at a constant state of war. It is for diplomacy that certain
countries can exist in harmony.

There has not been a documented
start of diplomacy; however there have been instances ranging back to the 5th century
where diplomacy arose in certain nations. Dating back to 432 B.C, the Congress
of Sparta was an “illustration of diplomacy as organized by the Greek City
States” (Nicolson 1). The origin of the word “diploma” comes from different
sides of the earth. In Greece diploma meant “folded in two”, while in Ancient
Rome the word was used to describe travel documents. Often times the word
diplomacy is given many meanings. Many times will the words “policy” and the
word “negotiation” be seen as synonyms; hence the word “diplomacy” and “foreign
diplomacy” are deemed to be similar (Nicolson 3). These “synonyms” of diplomacy
are all faulty. While they may be very similar in some cases, they are not the
exactly the same. Sir Harold Nicolson who was an English Diplomat born in
Tehran, Persia, states that:

“Diplomacy is neither the
invention nor the pastime of some particular political system, but is an
essential element in any reasonable relation between man and man and between
nation and nation” (Nicolson 4).

For the upkeep of the
International System, diplomacy is used in every corner of the world. Without
it many nations would not be able to conduct successful negotiations. Now let’s
jump from Ancient Greece and Rome straight to the 17th century, when
the modern diplomacy and the state as we know it were born.

The Peace of Westphalia

The Westphalia is an area in
north-western Germany, after which was named the treaty that ended one of the
most destructive and devastating conflicts in European history – the Thirty
Years’ War. The Treaty was signed in 1648 and it created the first modern
diplomatic congress in addition to creating a new world order in central Europe
based on state sovereignty. Negotiations started in December of 1644 in Münster
and Osnabrück. It gathered thousands of diplomats and support staff from not
less then 194 states.

Negotiations continued for nearly
4 years, largely because of communication and delivery of information to that
many countries and back  was very slow
and not-on-time process. Finally, On October 24th 1648 the treaty
was signed. It granted Swiss independece from Austria and also the Netherlands
independence from Spain. Sweden and France gained some territories and German
principalities were granted autonomies, but more importantly this treaty
established the moden state and principle of state sovereignity, according to
which a nation-state has sovereignty over its territory and domestic affairs, to
the exclusion of all institutions such as religion and all external powers, on
the principle of non-interference in another country’s domestic affairs.

One of the first practitioners of
this kind of policy was France and we must mention Cardinal Richelieu’s great
contribution in implementing this idea. He was the one who introduced the idea
of Raison détat or “reason of state”.
Henry Kissinger also mentions this in his Diolomacy:
“France under Cardinal Richelieu introduced the modern approach to
international relations, based on the nation-state and motivated by national
interest as its ultimate purpose” (Kissinger 17). After France The New World
Order began to bloom in all of Central and Western Europe.

To sum up Peace of Westphalia, we
can call it a fundament of Modern Diplomacy. It has completely changed the
outline of world that was at that time and introduced a sovereignty of the
states, according to the standard of Rex
est imperator in regno suo, what meant that the ruler is fully autonomous
within his own domain, but not a subject to the political will of anyone else.
The treaty recognized the absolute power of rulers and linked the personal power
to a territory which is called a sovereign state. Also, it established the
balance of power, which says that each state no matter its size or power, is
equal in their sovereignity and no one state predominates over others, because unbalanced
power is dangerous for the regional or global security.

Congress of Vienna

It was not until Napoleon’s rise
in the French Revolutionary Wars and leadership in the Napoleonic Wars all from
1792 – 1815 that wide spread fight would disrupt territories in Europe. In the
1800s, you will see the War of the Second Coalition between Britain and allies
against France ended in 1802 by the Treaty of Amiens. However, the would
fighting one year later continuing the Napoleonic Wars. The reason for that is
Napoleon’s campaign would push his territory into the Middle East allowing
France to control trade between the west and east on land, which would greatly
threaten Britain. Napoleon would also go on to defeat an allied
Austrian-Russian army in 1805 and begin to fight Spanish force in the
Peninsular War from 1808 – 1814. Many of these battles would see France collect
large amounts of land causing French territory to spread most of Central Europe
reaching from Spain to Russia almost. It would not be until 1812 with the
French invasion of Russia that the war would see a turning point that would
lead to Napoleon’s defeat in 1814. Now, the Congress of Vienna is called to
redraw Europe because of the vast territorial changes that have occurred.

At this time, Europe was reeling
from the revolutionary wars that ravaged France to its incredible
transformation into a state with a powerful military that would eventually
conquer many parts of Europe in the Napoleonic Wars. Under the dictatorship of
Napoleon, the French Empire was able to hold it own and gain considerable
concession from an array of European powers. Napoleon spurred cataclysmic
changes throughout Europe that the other European Power feared and wished to
reverse. Many of these changes would come from the Napoleonic Code of 1804,
this took the special privileges from nobles and churchmen and ended federal
rights. Thus, the Congress of Vienna was convened. It allowed countries to air
out grieves that they had with each other.

The Congress of Vienna was a
ground-breaking occurrence in international relations. Before this, the standard
for diplomacy was for rulers to send ambassadors to other rulers, making way
for a multitude of alliances that would not only contradict each other but also
led to damaging effects on the countries. The most damaging was that European
countries would fight on multiple front against many enemies or enter war
immediately after coming to peace terms from another country. The Congress of
Vienna was a conference that allowed the ambassadors of not just countries but
also some private organisations, like newspapers to meet all in one place. The
Congress would become a model for later organisations dedicated to
international cooperation, such as the rest of the Concert of Europe, the
League of Nations of 1919, and The United Nations in 1945.

The actual Congress was held in
Vienna, Austria from 1814 to June 1815. It was chaired by statesman Clemens
Wenzel von Metternich of Austria, and was one of the first successful attempts
to gather representatives from different countries and industries for the
purpose of establishing a long term peace plan for Europe. The Congress would
be quite successful for nearly one hundred years until the outbreak of World
War I.

WW1 and The Treaty of Versailles

World War I, also known as the First
World War or the Great War, was a global war that spanned from July 28, 1914 to
November 11, 1918. It began due to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand the
Archduke of Austria by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb, and a member of an
organization called the Black Hand, a group apart of the Kingdom of Serbia. The
Archduke was assassinated due to political motives, the main one being to break
off Austria-Hungary’s south Slav provinces and combine them to form Yugoslavia.
Austria-Hungary gave an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia, which was partially
rejected, causing Austria-Hungary to declare war, leading directly to World War

Austria-Hungary invaded the
Kingdom of Serbia after negotiations broke down and mobilized their troops on
July 28, 1914. This caused Russia to partially mobilize in response to
Austria-Hungary move on Serbia. This caused Germany to prepare to mobilize due
to AustriaHungary and Germany having a dual alliance. Russia was a part of the
alliance but could not agree with Austria-Hungary on territory issues. The
German government issued a statement to France telling them not to get involved
and that they remain neutral. France responded by pulling their troops back
from the border but activated their reserves just as a precaution. Germany took
this as a hostile act and declared war on France. Germany also declared war on
Belgium due to Belgium not allowing German troops to cross their borders to get
into France. Great Britain entered the war declared that Germany had defied the
ultimatum that Belgium was to remain neutral.

It seemed that in this first
great war, as well as, the second, Germany was the aggressor and showed no
signs of slowing down, it seems that they wanted to start war and the situation
that arose between Austria-Hungary and Serbia gave them the reason to do just
that. From the start, their alliance seemed to struggle with strategic plans on
how to attack. Miscommunication was the biggest problem, Austria-Hungary had
the idea that Germany was going to help with the invasion of the Kingdom of
Serbia. The leader of Austria-Hungary believe that Germany was going to cover
its northern flank against Russia, while the Germans thought Austria-Hungary
would command all of its troops to Russia while Germany concentrated on France.
This confusion led to Austria-Hungary dividing its troops between Russia and

When the war started, no one
believed that it was going to last as long as it did. World leaders believed
that it would be a quick skirmish and that the problem would be resolved
quickly. No one knew the magnitude of how many casualties would be lost in this
war, the economic toll it took on Europe to rebuild after the destruction of
war. Europe was devastated after the war and all the blame fell upon Germany.
All of the Allies along with other countries believed that all the damage was
Germany’s fault and felt that they should pay for all of the cost of rebuilding
Europe back up. They decided to make Germany pay for the lives lost and to make
sure that peace would remain throughout the world. The Treaty of Versailles was
created to make sure that this was taken care of and that Germany would suffer

The Treaty of Versailles was a
peace treaty that occurred at the end of World War I. It officially ended the
war between Germany and the Allied Power. There were other treaties that the
Allied Powers conducted with the other countries involved with the Central
Powers but this treaty was one that was the harshest. The Treaty of Versailles
grew out of retribution due to Germany destroying most of Europe and so many
lives being lost. Germany was basically stripped of everything, tasked with
paying back reparations to Allied nations who suffered severe loss in the war.
Germany was humiliated and decimated, a shell of a once great nation. Most
historians agree that without the harshness of the Treaty of Versailles there
would be no Adolf Hitler.

The Allied representatives
gathered in Paris in 1919, a few weeks after all hostilities had ended. They
were faced with the unenviable task of figuring out how they were going to
reconstruct or create a workable structure. They had to respond to
irreconcilable demands and pressures of the victors and the defeated alike.
Many of them felt that the war’s end was an opportunity to push their own
agenda. Some Allied leaders were reluctant, but publicly committed themselves
to negotiating what they claimed as a liberal and just postwar settlement, one
that would promote peace and humanitarian values. It would create a new
international organization enshrining these principles.

The League of Nations

The new diplomacy had, beyond its
requirement for openness, a yearning for an international organization to
settle disputes and deter those who sought to impose their will by force. In
its faltering steps towards world government (the League of Nations) , the
Versailles conference changed the nature of diplomacy decisively even if
another World War had to intervene before this became apparent. The League of
Nations was first proposed—ironically given Britain’s obsession with balance of
power politics—by the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, to President
Wilson’s personal adviser, Colonel House, as far back as 1915. Wilson made the
idea his own and presented it first in May 1916. It then became one of his
Fourteen Points, and Wilson pursued the idea at Versailles with characteristic
eloquence and vigour.

But the League was emasculated by
the US failure to ratify the Treaty and by the non-participation of Germany
(excluded till 1926, and then withdrawing in 1933) and Soviet Russia (which was
a member only for the years 1934–9, when it was expelled). Its limitations were
demonstrated by its failure to impose sanctions on Japan in 1931 after its
invasion of Manchuria, its response to Haile Selassie’s famously pathetic and
personal plea to the League for justice and assistance, and its failure to act
when Hitler occupied the Rhineland, in direct contravention of the Versailles
Treaty. Collective security, the very purpose of the League, was hopelessly
undermined. The failure of the League to prevent the slide into the Second
World War as Hitler and Mussolini treated it with rank contempt marked the
temporary eclipse of the new diplomacy. The alliances and pacts, the
territorial acquisitiveness, and the suppression of self-determination, all
features of the old order, returned with a vengeance. Once the war was over,
however, there was a clearly recognized need to create a new international
organization to replace the League and to be significantly different in its
basic design.

The Cold War, Containment, and Détente

The shape of the post-war world
was as we know however not set by a world forum but by a series of summit
meetings of the three Allied leaders, Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill at
Tehran and Yalta and of Truman, Stalin, and Churchill then Attlee at Potsdam.
Churchill foresaw that Stalin, the ultimate apostle of Realpolitik would never
trade the Red Army’s gains for abstract principles and proposed instead that
each of the Allies should have its sphere of influence. This was anathema to
Roosevelt as a return to discredited balance of power and colonial politics
which US public opinion would never support. Roosevelt, who famously described
the Soviet leader as having something of a Christian gentleman about him, did
not live to see the final unmasking of Stalin’s bad faith as he took as his
sphere of influence the whole of Eastern Europe and Germany to the Elbe. Thus,
until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989,
new and old diplomacy coexisted. East and West were grouped in two mutually
antagonistic alliances while a new world body, the United Nations, struggled to
fulfil its potential. The West attempted to deal with the Soviet Empire and
Communist China by a policy of containment which lasted 40 years. Containment
as a policy was first articulated by the American diplomat George Kennan. In
what became known as the ‘Long Telegram’, Kennan brilliantly analysed Soviet
motives and political perspective: they were, he said, an unholy combination of
Communist ideology, traditional Russian insecurity, and Tsarist expansionism.
To deal with this threat, the West needed ‘a policy of firm containment,
designed to confront the Russians with unalterable counter-force at every point
where they show signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful and
stable world’.

But containment was very much a
policy for the long haul, reactive and predicated on the eventual collapse or
transformation of the Soviet system. When the US began to take advantage of the
ideological split between the two Communist mammoths, the Soviet Union and
China, in the early 1970s, President Nixon demonstrated his attachment to old
balance of power politics by daringly opening up US contacts with Communist
China and providing a triangularity among the three major nuclear powers which
had been absent. At the same time Nixon initiated the policy of détente with
the Soviet Union. For Kissinger, the architect of this and so many other
aspects of Nixon’s foreign policy, ‘though détente, desirable it was, could not
replace the overall balance of power’. In other words, it was not a substitute
for it. In fact while Kissinger’s conceptual approach to diplomacy was
traditional, his practice was highly innovative. Given the limitations of nineteenth
century means of transport, neither Metternich nor Bismarck would have been
able to follow Kissinger’s practice of diplomacy even if they had wanted to.
But Kissinger’s uses of back-channel and shuttle diplomacy were remarkable.
Kissinger as an academic had always been allergic to bureaucracy. His and
Nixon’s institution of back-channels, early on in the latter’s presidency,
stemmed from the need for secrecy both to prevent their radical foreign policy
initiatives being undermined by State Department leaks and to ensure that
opposition to his enthusiasm for linkage, negotiating on a broad front, was stymied.
Kissinger himself put it more prosaically. His use of back-channels was
designed to open up potentially blocked channels without completely sidelining
the State Department. Once the back-channels ‘gave hope of specific agreements,
the subject was moved to conventional diplomatic channels. If formal
negotiations there reached a deadlock, the Channel would open up again.’

Multilateral Diplomacy

Although Kissinger’s theory and
practice of diplomacy were highly individualistic and born partly out of
impatience with traditional bureaucratic diplomacy, another form of diplomacy
has flourished in the post-war period. The multilateral approach has become
increasingly common post-1945 but it had its roots in antiquity. In modern
times, large-scale conferences took place infrequently in the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries, Vienna and Berlin being major examples from the
nineteenth century.

In the twentieth century, the
Versailles conference, about
which we already talked about, set a precedent which has been followed
ever more frequently since the Second World War despite the view of some sceptics
who see such conferences as largely talking shops. This view has its adherents
but there can clearly be advantages to a multilateral conference in terms of
efficiency and speed of decision-making. This does not necessarily apply to a
standing multilateral conference like the UN or other international
organizations which are not time-limited. But a conference will almost
certainly be the best forum for decision-making and reaching agreements where
it has a deadline, is subject-specific, or where technical details are involved
and the national experts assembled in one place. Berridge points out that
multilateral conferences, particularly major standing ones like the UN, provide
an opportunity for principals to meet in the margins to discuss other issues
including bilateral ones, a particularly valuable opportunity for those states
which have no or very poor diplomatic relations. They can also ‘kick start a
series of essentially bilateral negotiations that subsequently develop
elsewhere. This was the extremely valuable function performed for the
ArabIsraeli bilateral talks by the Geneva Conference of December 1973 and then
by the Madrid Conference in October 1991.’ The proliferation of international
and regional organizations so prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s has levelled off
now. But multilateral diplomacy’s advantages will ensure that it continues to


Modern diplomacy is a multisided,
loosely constrained and multidimensional game. There is not just one mode of
play. Instead, like all the most fascinating games, modern diplomacy is
intricate and involves considerable strategy that can be employed in several
ways. While diplomacy is often portrayed by an image of somber negotiations
over highly polished wooden tables in ornate rooms, it is much more than that.
Modern diplomacy is a far-ranging communications process.

However, as a result of
communication and transportation revolutions and the concomitant process of
political centralization in highly developed countries, “public diplomacy” has
become a critical part of the diplomatic repertoire. At the highest level,
leader-to-leader and summitry diplomacy – superpower summitry during the Cold
War – is certainly the main evolving characteristic of modern diplomacy and the
epitome of “public diplomacy.”

To conclude, diplomacy evolved in
many ways. The amazing speed of technological advances and the breakthrough in
the different fields especially of transportation, communications, the media
and many others led to big changes in the conduct of Diplomacy. For example, a
well-known club diplomacy in which diplomats often had to travel for diplomatic
missions abroad has transformed and became a network diplomacy as the use of
new technological devices made it easier to communicate between states.

Diplomacy has developed through
multiple paths as historically, political leaders responded to various
challenges at different times. The meaning and function of diplomacy takes many
different forms. In historical view, diplomacy can be seen as developing and
improving quite many different institutions and norms which changed the
international issues from time to time.