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In: American Diplomacy
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Is diplomacy important and can diplomats make a difference? This article examines these questions in the context of American foreign policy during the first two years of the Obama administration. The policy of George W. Bush’s administration in Iraq and Iraq, unilateral in form and controversial in substance, ensured that foreign policy was a major issue in the election campaign, with all of the major candidates agreeing that American diplomacy needed to be restored. Candidate Obama went beyond the consensus about restoring the status and influence of the State Department, however, to argue that the United States should talk without preconditions, even with regimes of which it did not approve. In office, Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, rhetorically elevated diplomacy to an equal standing with defence and development, provided resources for greatly expanding the Foreign Service, and stressed the importance of taking advantage of developments in information technology to strengthen public and ‘digital’ diplomacy in the service of civilian power. They also ‘reset’ certain key bilateral relationships and ‘reengaged’ multilateralism. However, American diplomacy under Obama remains framed by the increasingly questionable assumption that its renewed openness to talking, its continued military superiority and its claim to embody universal values will continue to confer upon it the mantle of global leadership. If US administrations continue to assume that this is so, then American diplomacy will face the challenge of trying to bridge the increasingly widening gap between their aspirations and the means available to sustain them.

In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
in The SHAFR Guide Online
In: American Diplomacy
In: American Diplomacy
In: American Diplomacy
In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
These essays examine questions arising from the Obama administration's efforts to revive American diplomacy and its response to the ways in which diplomacy itself is being transformed. The essays examine these questions from a variety of theoretical and practical perspectives provided by scholars and diplomats from around the world and within the United States.

A common focus of the collection is on how diplomacy's contribution to the effectiveness of foreign policy has been undervalued in the United States by governments, the foreign policy community, and academics. Together, the essays seek to raise awareness of American diplomacy conducted at all levels of government and society. They consider its future prospects in the context of America's economic difficulties and the anticipated further erosion of its international position. And they ask how American diplomacy may be strengthened in the interests of international peace and security, whether under a second term Obama administration or the leadership of a new president.