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Diplomacy term paper

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"To Great Britain, on the other hand, the signing of the Covenant was more than a formality. Though nobody could tell whether the League would be a fleeting experiment like the Holy Alliance, it corresponded to a keen desire throughout the British Empire for a new departure. British period of expansion, which had lasted for three centuries, was at an end. As a fully satisfied Power, possessing a quarter of the earth's surface and population, it was natural that the United Kingdom should welcome what appeared to be a stabilizing influence in the life of the world. Britain had made a mighty effort and England longed for a rest. A return to the isolationist policy of the nineteenth century was impossible, so close and so numerous were the ties which bound Britain to the Continent. It seemed equally dangerous to continue the policy of partnership with a particular Power or group of Powers, which, in the opinion of many people, had dragged the United Kingdom into the whirlpool. For the essence of the system of Continental commitments is that the enmities of any member of a group are implicitly shared by its associates, and that a limited conflict is ruled out in advance. In any case, both the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente had disappeared. The only remaining alternative was the method of collective security, each Power pledging itself to certain obligations for the preservation of peace. This was not enough for France, with her numerical inferiority to Germany and her exposed eastern frontier, but at the moment it seemed enough for Britain. The German fleet was at the bottom of the sea, the air arm was in its infancy. A League policy appeared to avoid the disadvantages alike of isolation and of competing groups. Though comradeship with France remained an axiom, there was no thought of in alliance, written or implied. It was well understood that changes were inevitable, but it was hoped that they could be peacefully made in the spirit of Article XIX of the Covenant. "We have, as I read the lesson of the time," declared Curzon in 1921, "to keep what we have obtained, sometimes against our will; not to seize anything else; to reconcile, not defy; to pacify, not to conquer." It is always easy for satiated states to play the part of the good boy till the acid test of their readiness to make territorial sacrifices is applied."
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"Collectively, diplomats were most important when, as in the negotiations leading to the termination of the Thirty Years' War and at the Conference of Vienna in 1814-1815, they were entrusted with the task of writing peace treaties. The art in which they excelled, namely, that of making compromises, supplied during that period an indispensable ingredient of statesmanship and contributed decisively to the creation of international systems which endured, but for minor alterations, for several generations. In this sense, the epoch between the Religious Wars and World War I may be called the Golden Age of Diplomacy. This is not to say that before and afterward diplomats did not execute missions involving the use of considerable discretion. Before the introduction of modern means of communication, ambassadors at faraway places were compelled, in emergencies, to make their own decisions without consulting their governments. Up to a certain point, diplomats could, and did, commit governments; at Oriental posts, diplomats often possessed authority to order ship and troop movements and even to initiate military action. The advent of the telegraph, the telephone, the modern newspaper, and representative government greatly reduced the scope and responsibility of the diplomat. The role of the individual diplomat is usually of little consequence; yet, from time to time, a diplomat may change history. For example, in 1870, the French Ambassador to Prussia lacked, most historians agree, the elementary skills of his profession and managed to deceive, although unwittingly, his own government. It could be argued that a somewhat more adroit behaviour on the part of this official might have prevented the War of 1870, a war which the Prussian Minister Otto von Bismarck could bring about only by clever, although unscrupulous, exploitation of the French diplomat's blunders."
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