War: A Form of Diplomacy or Rather a Failure of Diplomacy

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Scholars have long debated whether war is a form of diplomacy, or rather a failure of diplomacy. While scholars such as Clausewitz would argue that war is a policy maker and that the conduct of war should be subordinated to its political goals, other scholars such as Fearon may also suggest that war is a failure of diplomacy and that entities intervene as a last resort. While both points of view are interesting, the definition of “war” and “diplomacy”, the purposes within war and diplomacy, peaceful negotiations within wars, summitries, the states’ interests and the groups of interests within states during war, all contribute to defining war as a form of diplomacy. I will demonstrate the previous aspects by looking at the Cold War, its summit conferences, the U.S.-Saudi Arabian relations with more precisely the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the American-Israel Political Action Committee’s influence in American politics with the views of James D. Fearon, Carl Von Clausewitz, and Thomas C. Schelling and considering their implications. The definitions of “diplomacy” and “war” have varied through political literature pieces. Diplomacy is often thought of as peaceful or just anything opposite of violence. In reality, it can actually lead to war, prevent it or simply be seen within war. Diplomacy began in the Mesopotamia at least 4,500 years ago. It was a means to communicate between city-states, to conduct certain affairs such as “trade, alliances and fighting” 1. Thus, according to this background, diplomacy can be seen as “the instrument, the key mechanism by which states conduct relations across borders; it is the means to achieve the objectives of foreign policy” 2. This definition would encompass war as a tool of diplomacy used to attain desired policies. Diplomacy is also defined by Schelling as "bargaining: it seeks outcomes that, though not ideal for either party, are better for both than some of the alternatives" 3. If we take these definitions into application, it is possible to perceive war as an aggressive form of negotiations or bargaining. Thus, a proper definition can be: the manner, whether it be aggressive or peaceful, in which international relations are conducted to obtain foreign policies. It is thus important to acknowledge that diplomacy is an entity that encompasses the state as a whole, including interest groups, bureaucrats, civilians as well as political leaders. The debate on what constitutes a war has been long running. How many people must die before it is considered a war? Does there even have to be deaths for two conflicting nations to be at war? The guidelines for determining if a conflict is a war have changed a great deal over the years, and are confused more than ever today. This holds true as the United Nations charter forbids war, and thus states usually do not declare conflicts as “war” anymore but rather as interventions, self-defense, or other alternative terms. However, for the purpose of simplicity, war can be defined as simply “nothing but a continuation of political intercourse, with a mixture of other means” 4. It is a period of organized armed hostility or active military force used with the intent of obtaining foreign policies or reaching an agreement. All factors of this definition are crucial. The military force needs to be “organized”, therefore excluding all randomness or spontaneous violence including riots and demonstrations. The definition goes further as the purpose of warfare is said to be the obtainment of something the states desires, through violence or the threat of violence 5. The use of threats to obtain a desired outcome over negotiations is known as coercive diplomacy 6. Some scholars, such as Schelling, differentiate between coercive diplomacy and brute force. However, coercive diplomacy can still be seen as aggressive and armed hostilities, which would relate back to our definition of war. If both definitions of diplomacy and war are taken into account, one can see...
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