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«Introduction Diplomats often find international relations (IR) books strange. If they read - or more likely reread (as many Western diplomats have ...»

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This ever-changing nature of national positions has been accepted to some degree in the bargaining literature. For instance, two-level game approaches acknowledge that domestic politics affects diplomacy continuously. Putnam even admits that formally speaking, game-theoretic analysis requires that the structure of issues and payoffs be specified in advance. In reality, however, much of what happens in any bargaining situation involves attempts by the players to restructure the game and to alter one another's perceptions of the costs of no-agreement and the benefits of proposed agreement. IS Yet Putnam (and others) still -assumes that there is such a thing as a national win-set. Putnam needs a priori assumptions and win-sets to make his theory work. In many occasions, however, a negotiation has no clear beginning. This was also the case one century ago. The seasoned diplomat Henry White, reflecting on his experience as US ambassador to France (1906-9) and as representative of the United States at a range of international conferences from the 1880s to the 1910s, explains how negotiations often start with vague ideas. For instance, the International Agriculture Conference, held in Rome in 1905, assembled not only with a very vague idea as to what shape, if any, its labors would assume, but with a strong conviction on the part of a majority of the delegates that no result at all was likely to be attained, beyond perhaps a demonstration of good will to the Italian sovereign and nation.19 However, as a result of the "zeal and tact of the very able men composing the Italian delegation, encouragement and interest took place of Robert D. Putnam, "Diplomacyand DomesticPolitics:The Logicof Two-Level Games," Illternational Orga/izatioll,42(3),1988: 454, myitalics. As Putnam writes, "much ambassadorial action... has precisely this function" (ibid.).

Henry Whire er aI., "The Organization and Procedureof rheThird Hague Conference," Proceedings of the American Society of International Law at Its Annual Meering,6, 1912, 182.

290 Rebecca Adler-Nissen skepticism and apathy.,,20 In the end, the negotiations led to the sharing of information on agricultural products and the establishments of agricultural bureaus across much of the Western world. Diplomacy, in other words, helped construct the national interest, not just represent it. How did IR scholars come to believe in (or felt a need to assume) a pre-given national interest or win-set that determines negotiations?

Bumping billiard balls and signals: two images of diplomacy in IR theory To get at the core of the problem with most accounts of diplomacy (and why my colleague could not recognize himself in the academic article), we need to address the substantialist thinking inherent in much IR theory. I build here on Mustafa Emirbayer's distinction between substantialist and relational social theoryY Within IR, Emirbayer's relational manifesto has influenced Jackson and Nexon's argument about the processual character of world politics,22 leading them to argue - as diplomats would do - that relations come before states.23 This brief section cannot do justice to the nuances and sophistication of the different IR theories; instead, it will point to a few basic assumptions that have limited IR scholars' view of diplomacy.

Substantialism dominates much of social science and in particular IR theory. It claims that substances (things, beings, entities, essences) are the "units" or "levels" of analysis and that they exist prior to the analysis. Emirbayer uses Norbert Elias to trace the analytical fondness for substances (things, beings, essences) back to the grammar of Western languages.24 One example is the wind, "the wind is blowing."


Mustafa Emirbayer, "Manifesto for a Relational Sociology," American/oumal ofSociolog)', 103(2), 1997,283.

Jackson and Nexon, "Relations before States."

With a different purpose, Albert et al. have argued that large-scale change is only intelligible with a relational ontology, and Guillaume has constructed a relational-dialogical approach to provide a more nuanced understanding of subjectivity and the development of national identities. See Mathias Albert, David Jacobson, and Yosef Lapid, eds., Identities, Borders, Orders: Rethinking bttemationa1 Relations Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011); and Xavier Guillaume, "Foreign Policy and the Politics of Alterity: A Dialogical Understanding ofInternational Relations," Millennium, 31(1), 2002.

Emirbayer, "Manifesto for a Relational Sociology," 283.

Conclusion 291 "We speak as if the wind were separate from its blowing, as if a wind could exist which did not blow.,,25 The idea of that a state has (i.e., possesses) a particular national interest as mentioned earlier, is illustrative of IR's substantialism.

In a constructivist version that interest is socially constructed, yet at the most fundamental level - "before interaction" - it is the desire to survive that drives states.26 However, as poststructuralist and feminist IR scholars have demonstrated,27 while one may show that the state is partially a social construction as Wendt does, many of the processes that construct the state as a subject - including diplomacy - will be left out of the analysis when the essentialist ontology sneaks in.

Self-action: diplomacy as states bumping into each other According to Emirbayer, there are two substantialist positions: "selfaction" and "inter-action." Following a self-action perspective, things are "acting under their own powers" and "there exists things which inherently possess being" (e.g., the soul in Christian theology).28 In modern social theory, the self-action perspective is expressed in arguments about the existence of the will and methodological individualism.

Within IR theory, liberal and rational choice approaches assume that human beings and states act rationally to maximize utility,29 whereas social identity theorists believe that social status is the main behavioral driver.3o We also find the self-action perspective in norm-following Elias, quoted in ibid., 283.

2S Alexander Wendt, "Anarchy Is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics," Intemational Organization, 46(2),1992,402.

For example, Roxanne L. Doty, "Aporia: A Critical Exploration of the AgentStructure Problematique in International Relations Theory," European Journal of IIttemational Relations, 3(3),1997; Jonathan D. Wadley, "Gendering the State: Perforrnativity and Protection in International Security," in Laura Sjoberg, ed., Gender and International Security: Feminist Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2010),44.

Emirbayer, "Manifesto for a Relational Sociology," 283.

For example, Andrew Moravcsik, "Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics," International Organization, 51(4), 1997.

For example, Jonathan Mercer, Anarchy and Identity," International 30 II

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individuals or states (pursuing internalized norms).3] More holistic, structuralist or system-oriented theories seek to avoid assumptions about motives (e.g., Durkheim or Waltz) but assume the existence of the phenomenon they seek to study, that is, society (Durkheim) or the state system (Waltz). From a structuralist realist perspective, diplomacy is close to irrelevant because of the "irreducible" security dilemma.32 Scholars in the defensive realist camp of structural realism are typically less pessimistic, because they believe that certain forms of soft-line diplomacy can mitigate, although not eliminate, the security dilemma.33 It is perhaps also in the substantialist approaches that Humes's legacy is most apparent in IR theory: We cannot observe the act of causation; we can only observe that the motion of the first billiard ball is followed by the motion of the second billiard ball. And so we infer causation. Diplomacy then becomes the mechanisms of states bumping into each other.

Inter-action: diplomacy as reciprocal signaling Following inter-action theory, the relevant action takes place among the entities themselves. At first sight, the inter-action version of substantialism resembles relationalism and allocates a greater role for diplomacy. However, things in inter-action are "in causal interconnection" against one another. 34 Thus, entities remain fixed and unchanging throughout such interaction, each independent of the existence of the others. This is where Jervis's foreign policy signals fit in. 3S The inter~actionist approach is also detectible in diplomatic language itself: deep-rooted expressions such as "normalizing" or "severing" diplomatic ties; the former is a signaling device for approval or recognition, while the latter sends strong signals of dissatisfaction without necessarily any military intentions.36 See James Fearon and Alexander Wendt, "Rationalism v. Constructivism: A Skeptical View," Handbook of International Relations, 2002, 58.

See also Iver B. Neumann, Chapter 5, this volume.

Charles Glaser, "The Security Dilemma Revisited," World Politics, 50, 1997.

Emirbayet, "Manifesto fot a Relational Sociology," 285.

Jervis, "Cooperation undet the Security Dilemma." For a relational view of the 3S security dilemma, see Ken Booth and Nicholas J. Wheeler, The Secllrity Dilemma (Houndmills: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008).

Geoff Berridge, Talking to the Enemy - How States Without..Diplomatic Relations" Communicate (London: St. Martin's Ptess, 1994),7. The language of diplomacy is rife with references to ongoing production and reproduction of a Conclusion The inter-action perspective can also be found in constructivism's symbolic interactionist roots. As Copeland writes in a (critical) review of Wendt, "each actor's conception of self (its interests and identity) is a product of the others' diplomatic gestures.,,37 While Wendt reinforced a focus on state interactions, he bracketed off diplomatic and domestic processes.38 Accordingly, diplomacy became understood as a system of reciprocal signaling that affected state identities and interests.

Liberals in the interdependence tradition tend to replace the signaling with a cobweb, thereby giving diplomacy a greater role.39 But this complex diplomatic network of negotiation is not in and of itself in need of theorizing; instead, it is the interests of the states that are in focus, together with levels of trust, econo'mic independence, and so on.

Globalization and "soft power" scholars come closer to a relational approach, by focusing on the interrelated and connected nature of world politics. Yet substantia list assumptions sneak in. For instance, Nye argues the £ella "iAg;

A country may obtain the outcomes it wants in world politics because other countries want to follow it, admiring its values, emulating its example, aspiring to its level of prosperity and openness... This aspect of power getting others to want what you want - I call soft power. It co-opts people rather than coerces them.40 Soft power clearly is about relations, including diplomatic relations, yet, "values," "models," "prosperity," or "openness" are possessed or represented by the state, according to Nye. None of this includes relations of mutuality or intersubjectivity, and they are seldom put specifically at work in a concrete analysis.

However, in the past two. decades, the "new diplomacy" literature has brought attention to the increasing involvement of NGOs, citizens, and private companies in diplomatic negotiations. Diplomatic scholars mediated internatiomilorder. SeeRebeccaAdler-Nissen,"Diplomacyas ImpressionManagement:StrategicFace-Workand Post-Colonial Embarr~ssment," CIPSS Working Paper Series, 38, Center for International Peaceand SecurityStudies(Montreal: McGillUniversity,2012).

Dale C. Copeland, "The ConstructivistChallengeto Structural Realism:A

ReviewEssay," ]"ternational Security, 25(2), 2000, 188.

Ibid., 212.

ChristerJonsson and Martin Hall, Essence of Diplomacy (Houndmills:Palgrave Macmillan,2005), 17.

Joseph S.Nye, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (New York:

PublicAffairs,2004), 5.

294 Rebecca Adler-Nissen have identified changes in the relations between, for instance, new and old forms of diplomacy, pointing to the role of companies and NGOs,41 and have shown that in addition to bilateral and multilateral forms of diplomacy, the "polylateral" (or non-state) form of diplomacy has become more predominant.42 Moreover, diplomatic scholars have discussed what causes these changes. Some have argued that the changes in diplomatic practices can be explained by external factors such as the end of the Cold War, globalization, shifts in the traditional balance of world power, and regionalization.43 Alternatively, the change may be termed as a form of "mutual adaption" of diplomacy to new technological, cultural, and political contexts.44 Following this approach, we can analyze change in specific interests and relative power positions between official state representatives and their relations to multinational companies, NGOs and multilateral arenas, but it is less clear whether and how diplomacy as such is also changing. More radically, in terms of transformation, Sharp concludes that "public diplomacy is merely the latest of a series of waves seeking to transform diplomacy and to point us to a world which will not need it.,,45 However, as the editors note, much of the new diplomacy literature remains actor-centric, reflecting more an inter-actionist view of the world. This makes it blind to the processes that produce changes in diplomatic practice.46 In sum, in its self-action or inter-actionist versions, IR theory tends to bracket diplomacy away or use particular interests or actors as proxies for diplomacy. IR theory often searches for kicks of exogenous change (since its units are usually left unchanging), leaving the change itself unexplainable. The new diplomacy literature br.ings us closer to Andrew F. Hocking and Brian Cooper, "Governments, Non-governmental Organisations and the Re-calibration of Diplomacy," Global Society, 14(3), 2000.

Geoffrey Wiseman (1999), "'Polylateralism'" and New Modes of Global Dialogue.~' Reprinted in Christer Jonsson and Richard Langhorne, eds., Diplomacy, Vol. III. Discussion Papers, No. 59, Leicester Diplomatic Studies Programme, 36-57 (London: Sage, 2004).

Pauline Kerr and Geoffrey Wiseman, cds., Diplomacy in a Globalizing World:

Theories mId Practices (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

Sec Jan Melissen, ed., Innovation in Diplomatic Practice (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1999).

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