Their Excellencies, Modern-Age Diplomats…Are They Necessary?

by Editorial

By Roland Flamini

Renée Jones-Bos, the Netherland’s new ambassador to Washington, hit the ground running. During her first official week on the job she presented her credentials to President George Bush on Wednesday along with other recent arrivals. On Friday, there was a special meeting of EU ambassadors on the situation in Iran, and then later, at the week’s end, Jones-Bos was in New York to help launch next year’s 400th anniversary celebrations of Henry Hudson’s taking possession of Manhattan Island for the Dutch.

Talleyrand, the consummate 19th century diplomat, would probably not have considered the latter worthy of his attention, but times have changed. A century ago, a diplomat operated according to the rules established by the Congress of Vienna of 1814, which shaped political Europe following the downfall of Napoleon and remained in force with remarkably little change until almost the end of the last century. Today, says Pierre Vimont, France’s dapper, affable ambassador, the diplomat’s horizons have to be much wider. “You have to be knowledgeable about so many issues besides politics; you have to know about financial markets, climate change, terrorism, defense, commerce. You are working in a global environment in which issues, and different decisions on those issues, are all interconnected.”

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