Just a couple hours before writing this post, I watched the movie Diplomacy with my family. The movie, which is based off a French play by the same name, takes place during the last morning of WWII the Nazis occupied Paris. Most of the film is a discussion between the German general Dietrich von Choltitz, who has been given orders to destroy Paris, and Swedish Consul General Raoul Nordling, who is trying to persuade him to do otherwise. Based on real life events, the film raises important questions about loyalty, one’s obligations to future generations, and how much you can or should trust others. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical drama.
The whole film made me reflect on the nature of diplomacy as a whole, and how dangerous it can be to approach life with the General’s initial mindset of ‘destroy the enemy, be faithful to those to whom you have pledged loyalty, and trust no one but your direct superiors.’ The writers and director of the film do a superb job of drawing attention to a series of fortuitous events, as well as actions taken by the Consul, that ultimately get the General to question these positions. The relationship between the General and Consul serve as an important reminder of the value of diplomacy, as well as how trust and a degree of good will are needed to bring it about. Given the precarious situation in foreign affairs today, it is a message we would do well to keep in mind.
After watching the film, I found a couple of articles and one book that engage the questions of what diplomacy is and the role trust plays in politics. I will be reading them in the next couple days, and am passing them along to any of you who find this line of thought as intriguing as I do. Here they are:
- Philosophy As Diplomacy: Essays in Ethics and Policy-Making, by Pablo Iannone
- “Thucydides and Plato on Democracy and Trust”, by Gerald M. Mara
- “Francois de Callieres and Diplomatic Theory”, by Maurice Keens-Soper
- “A Characterization of Trust, and Its Consequences,” by Jack Barbalet
What are you reading?