Diplo­macy in the time of DU30

The Freeman - - OPINION -

The past few weeks we had Pres­i­dent DU30 trav­el­ling to Ja­pan and Viet­nam for vis­its and in re­la­tion to the APEC and ASEAN meet­ings. There has been high pro­file diplo­macy not just be­cause the Philip­pines is host­ing the ASEAN Sum­mit, but also be­cause of very sig­nif­i­cant is­sues like the con­flict­ing claims in South China Sea and the North Korea nu­clear threats to Ja­pan and the US. This week, start­ing on Novem­ber 12, the heads of states of all the ASEAN coun­tries, the Asia-Pa­cific coun­tries and even ob­server coun­tries will be in Metro Manila to at­tend the ASEAN Sum­mit.

Ex­cept for a few un­nec­es­sary com­ments, like when DU30 crit­i­cized again Obama, DU30 have mel­lowed and toned down most of his rhetoric. He was very re­spect­ful and tact­ful in Ja­pan in the meet­ings with Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe and the Em­peror. It was also a so­cially un­event­ful visit to Viet­nam for the APEC di­a­logues but fruit­ful in terms of touch­ing base with the APEC mem­ber states. Are we now go­ing to see a more gen­tile and diplo­matic DU30 in the com­ing months and years of his pres­i­dency? Maybe yes and maybe no. But you can be sure he will be, when it comes to in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.

There are two rea­sons for this: one is the in­creas­ing com­plex­ity of in­ter­na­tional af­fairs and re­la­tions. We now live in a more in­ter­de­pen­dent world with mul­ti­ple na­tions in a rapid in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion en­vi­ron­ment. We live in a cy­ber­world and the im­pact and im­pli­ca­tions of events to na­tions all over the world are fast and un­pre­dictable. Un­like be­fore when the Philip­pines deals and re­lates only to three or four other na­tions, we now deal with many more coun­tries in pol­i­tics, trade, in­vest­ments, and cul­ture. Our deal­ings with other coun­tries have grown ex­po­nen­tially. Many events that hap­pen in other coun­tries that were not a con­cern to us be­fore, now have so­cial and eco­nomic im­pact; as we now trade with many coun­tries, with Filipinos and OFWs in many coun­tries, and many coun­tries have in­vest­ments and their peo­ple liv­ing in the Philip­pines. Eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion, ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity, ter­ror­ism and for­eign aid are global mon­u­men­tal is­sues. So, in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and diplo­macy have now to be care­fully planned and man­aged to have a pos­i­tive im­pact to our coun­try. It is not an area to be care­less in our pro­nounce­ments and ac­tions.

The sec­ond rea­son is the tran­si­tional and trans­ac­tional ap­proach of politi­cians. Politi­cians deal­ing with other politi­cians or other par­ties al­ways have a ne­go­ti­at­ing pos­ture that de­pends on the rel­a­tive strength of that politi­cian in his home coun­try. The more se­cure or pop­u­lar they are in their home coun­try, the stronger po­si­tion they may take in ne­go­ti­at­ing with their coun­ter­parts in diplo­macy. This has been true since time im­memo­rial and was par­tic­u­larly ev­i­dent in the 12 Tribes of Is­rael and in the Mid­dle Ages among the Euro­pean city states. Pres­i­dent DU30 has to deal with the likes of Premier Xi, Putin, Abe, Moon and Trudeau who are pop­u­lar and re­spected in their pre­mier­ship or pres­i­dency. He has also to deal with Trump who is los­ing pop­u­lar­ity and con­fi­dence in the US, so he has and should cal­i­brate his dis­cus­sions and ac­tions.

In the long term, diplo­macy and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions should be an­chored on univer­sal ideals like "the rule of law," "hu­man rights" and "lib­erty." But as world so­ci­ety is still evolv­ing and there are all kinds of regimes ex­ist­ing all over the world, we will have to ac­cept the balanc­ing and coun­ter­bal­anc­ing ma­neu­vers of coun­tries in diplo­macy and in­ter­na­tional af­fairs. The con­so­la­tion is that we don't wait for his­tory to judge our lead­ers. Tech­nol­ogy has made lead­ers ac­count­able sooner than later. Look at all the past and present world lead­ers who are crim­i­nally charged, on trial or are in prison.

‘In the long term, diplo­macy and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions should be an­chored on univer­sal ideals like “the rule of law,” “hu­man rights”

and "lib­erty.”’

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