Academy of Ideas

The crisis of diplomacy in the era of Trump

May 10, 2019

Recording of the debate at the Battle of Ideas Festival 2018.

Visiting Europe in the summer, President Trump lambasted Germany’s relationship with Russia, took a dig at Theresa May’s Brexit strategy and seemingly sided with Vladimir Putin against America’s own intelligence agencies. The UK’s former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, also famously made numerous diplomatic gaffes. Once diplomacy was regarded as a careful art, furthering national interests through back-channels and coded language, and pursued by highly educated diplomats. But in recent years, politicians have seemed keener to make loud public statements at the expense of cool negotiation. Why do politicians seem to respond to events on the hoof rather than pursuing a long-term strategy? Are they playing with fire?

MARY DEJEVSKY
former foreign correspondent in Moscow, Paris and Washington; special correspondent in China; writer and broadcaster

PROFESSOR BILL DURODIÉ
chair of international relations, University of Bath

DR SEAN LANG
senior lecturer in History, Anglia Ruskin University; author, First World War for Dummies

CARNE ROSS
author, The Leaderless Revolution; executive director, Independent Diplomat