But does modern diplomacy actually work? Careful consideration does not make for comfortable reading. Kosovo, Darfur, North Korea and Iran suggest that more progress might have been made had a little more stick been employed than endless talk.
All the main aid agencies estimate about two million innocent civilians have been the victims of the Sudanese Islamic militias that have waged a genocidal campaign against the Christian and Animist tribes that predominantly inhabit the south of the country. There are 700,000 people in refugee camps in the Darfur province of western Sudan and eastern Chad and it is universally agreed that this is the one issue that demands immediate and effective attention.
But four years after the start of a conflict former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called “little short of hell on earth”, the killing and deprivation goes on – despite the UN passing a resolution last summer which finally authorised the establishment of a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force to stop the bloodshed.
Much of the blame for a conflict that Tony Blair, in typically melodramatic fashion, described as “a scar on the conscience of the world”, must lie with the UN and those Western governments – such as Britain – that have assumed responsibility for resolving the conflict. …
As John Bolton, the former American ambassador to the UN writes in his new book, Surrender is Not An Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad, Darfur “was the worst example of the UN’s inability to address critical problems in Africa”.
As Mr Bolton was keen to point out when I met him during his British book tour this week, the world’s diplomats have failed on virtually all the major issues they have tackled, even when the Americans have assumed the lead role. …
So far as Mr Bolton is concerned, the greatest diplomatic failure of recent years has been the initiative by the “EU3″ – Britain, Germany and France – to persuade Iran to come clean about its nuclear programme. …
In fact the only memorable “diplomatic” success of recent years – convincing the eccentric Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to give up his nuclear arsenal – was achieved without any diplomatic involvement, and was mainly the work of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, which had the relatively simple task of persuading Gaddafi that he would face the same fate as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein if he persisted with his nuclear programme.
The prospect of military action had the effect of concentrating Gaddafi’s mind wonderfully, and his weapons were handed over to American custody.
And there’s a six and a half minute video of their interview, which goes over a lot of what was written up: