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Diplomatic Theory of International Relations


Part of Cambridge Studies in International Relations

  • Date Published: September 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521757553


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About the Authors
  • Diplomacy does not take place simply between states but wherever people live in different groups. Paul Sharp argues that the demand for diplomacy, and the need for the insights of diplomatic theory, are on the rise. In contrast to conventional texts which use international relations theories to make sense of what diplomacy and diplomats do, this book explores what diplomacy and diplomats can contribute to the big theoretical and practical debates in international relations today. Sharp identifies a diplomatic tradition of international thought premised on the way people live in groups, the differences between intra- and inter-group relations, and the perspectives which those who handle inter-group relations develop about the sorts of international disputes which occur. He argues that the lessons of diplomacy are that we should be reluctant to judge, ready to appease, and alert to the partial grounds on which most universal claims about human beings are made.

    • Represents a departure in the study of diplomacy and international relations, showing how mainstream IR approaches consistently misunderstand diplomacy and diplomats and underestimate their increasing importance
    • Examines critical issues of contemporary importance including rogue states, religious extremists, greedy corporations and public diplomacy from a novel perspective and suggests changes in how policy is conducted towards them
    • Employs both theoretical and practical examples from beyond the world of state diplomacy, and considers the international relations of the ancient world, the pre-Columbian Americas, medieval Europe, and encounters between Europeans and native peoples in Hawaii and North America
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “This is a wise, humane, and fascinating account of diplomacy as a philosophy of conduct intended to enable peaceful relations between collectivities in a pluralistic world. Skeptical of grand claims and human perfectibility, diplomats seek to accommodate human differences by preferring live-and-let-live arrangements to definitive solutions. Paul Sharp has written a beautifully crafted book in the grand tradition of the English School, full of profound insights into the realities of international relations, that deserves to become a modern classic.”
    Raymond Cohen, Chaim Weizmann Professor of International Relations, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Corcoran Visiting Chair in the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, Boston College

    “In any field of endeavor there are those widely acknowledged to be master practitioners, whose work not only exhibits the highest standard but who are continually pushing the boundaries. In the study of diplomacy, Paul Sharp is certainly one who comes immediately to mind, and this wise book is a case in point. Sharp reflects upon the diplomatic tradition, how it has been viewed by other traditions of international thought, and how ‘thinking diplomatically’ can help us understand key dynamics of international societies and also wrestle with thorny international issues.”
    Yale H. Ferguson, Division of Global Affairs, Rutgers University-Newark

    “The need for diplomacy in world politics has never been greater and nor has the need for a theoretical perspective that allows us to make sense of what diplomacy is all about. Paul Sharp has done us the immense service of demonstrating the existence of a long diplomatic tradition of thought, and in doing so, revealing the origins, history and essence of diplomacy as well as the role it needs to play in the 21st century. This book takes English School thinking about diplomacy to a new level of sophistication. It is a real tour do force.”
    Richard Little, University of Bristol

    “Sharp puts forth the provocative argument that diplomacy and diplomats are not necessarily linked or connected to international relations theory...This book will be considered necessary reading for some time to come for the international relations specialist considering the concept of diplomacy. Highly recommended.”
    -CHOICE, S. R. Silverburg, Catawba College

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521757553
    • length: 352 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Traditions of International Thought and the Disappointment of Diplomacy:
    1. Diplomacy and diplomats in the radical tradition
    2. Diplomacy and diplomats in the rational tradition
    3. Diplomacy and diplomats in the realist tradition
    Part II. Elements of a Diplomatic Tradition of International Thought:
    4. The diplomatic tradition: conditions and relations of separateness
    5. The diplomatic tradition: diplomacy, diplomats and international relations
    Part III. Diplomatic Understanding and International Societies:
    6. Using the international society idea
    7. Integration-disintegration
    8. Expansion-contraction
    9. Concentration-diffusion
    Part IV. Thinking Diplomatically about International Issues:
    10. Rogue state diplomacy
    11. Greedy company diplomacy
    12. Crazy religion diplomacy
    13. Dumb public diplomacy

  • Author

    Paul Sharp, University of Minnesota, Duluth
    Paul Sharp is Professor and Head of Political Science at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

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