The course and consequences of major events of modern international diplomacy have shaped and changed the global world in which we live. Joseph M. Siracusa introduces the subject of diplomacy from a historical perspective, providing examples from significant historical phases and episodes to illustrate the art of diplomacy in action
"Diplomacy, widely recognized as the standard textbook on its subject and already translated into six languages, has been comprehensively updated, reorganized and greatly expanded. There are new chapters on consuls, public diplomacy, special envoys, and how agreements are best followed up, the last featuring a close look at no torture agreements"--Provided by publisher
Both historical and contemporary trends suggest that the meaning of diplomacy varies considerably over time and across space. Diplomacy is defined neither by the types of actors on behalf of which it is undertaken nor by the status of those actors vis-à-vis one another, in the sense of their being, for example, sovereign and equal. There are, however, four common threads underlying these historical variations on diplomacy. The first is an assumption about the necessarily plural character of social relations, namely that people live in groups which regard themselves as separate from, yet needing or wanting relations with, one another. The second is that this plural social fact gives rise to relations that are somehow distinctive to and different from relations within groups. People believe and feel themselves to be under fewer obligations to those whom they regard as others than to those whom they regard as their own. Third, therefore, if these relations are to remain peaceful and productive, they require careful handling by specialists who should be treated neither as one's own nor, at least in the usual sense, as others. Fourth, these specialists develop a measure of solidarity as the managers of relations in worlds distinguished by the plural social fact. Where these four elements are in play, then there emerges a system of relations which can be recognized as having the character of diplomacy.
In its broadest sense, diplomacy refers to the conduct of human affairs by peaceful means, employing techniques of persuasion and negotiation. In the more specific sphere of international politics, through the utilisation of such techniques, it has come to be regarded as one of the key processes characterising the international system and a defining institution of the system of sovereign states - often referred to as the “Westphalian” system after the 1684 Peace of Westphalia. Its usage, however, embraces some important distinctions. First, at the state level, it has frequently been used (particularly in studies of diplomatic history) as a synonym for foreign policy – as in “Russian”, “German” and “Japanese” diplomacy (foreign policy). More commonly, however, it is used to refer to one means by which such policies are implemented. Second, viewed as an institution of the international system, a distinction can be made between diplomacy as a set of processes and as a set of structures through which these processes are conducted. Debates about the continuing utility of diplomacy in contemporary international politics frequently reflect confusion between these meanings. In the course of the following discussion, the origins of diplomacy are outlined together with differing analytical approaches to its nature and significance as a feature of international politics. The changing nature of diplomatic processes is then discussed followed by an examination of the evolution of the structures through which diplomacy has been conducted at both the state and international levels.