Does President-Elect Trump intend to start a war with China? I don’t think so but I can’t claim to have that from the man himself. If he doesn’t, is his confrontational diplomacy of having a cosy chat with the Taiwanese President sensible? The world has bigger issues at present than Taiwan’s independence. Frankly the issue has been on the table as long as I can remember. Trade flows without too much disruption and you don’t even need a separate passport to travel in the two countries any more. So why the call to President Tsai?
Brutal tactics won Donald Trump the election. I think it is shameful that they did but that’s democracy for you. Will brutal tactics win the peace for him? The world of diplomacy is one of established codes and rituals carefully thought out and established over the years to minimise the risk of major conflagration. Since the end of WWII the system has worked, not always as well as we would have liked, but well enough to avoid starting WWIII.
As we move into an era of bluster and deceit we must expect that some of the delicate nuances of diplomatic language and behaviour will be overturned. No harm in that provided the consequences are benign. That depends on everyone understanding the new codes. If “cut your throat” now means “won’t put you on my Christmas card list” so be it – provided we all realise that is what is being said. Personally, if someone threatens to cut my throat I shall take the necessary steps to restrain him before finding out about the Christmas card bit.
And that is what I fear for world diplomacy. One man’s boo is another man’s bang. You may only discover that too late. So, is adopting immoderate language and behaviour – if that is what we are in the process of doing – something to be pleased about or something to resist? I fear the answer from some of you will be “I’ll do what I have to do to look after myself” or even “shoot first, question afterwards”.
Such an attitude will further corrupt an already corrupt society. Being careless always makes people care less. And if the future of the world is uncaring we will revert to the jungle where, for all the beauty and wonder, the inhabitants have shorter, less comfortable lives than ours. Will artificial intelligence and robotic service prevent the worst consequences of that? I don’t think so. Our jungle will look physically different from an uncultivated plot of land but it will be no less ruthless. It will destroy the sensitivities on which collective living depend.
Diplomacy was always a matter of nuance and tact. If it becomes an exchange of brutal language it will lead to rabble-rousing. We already have more of that than we can handle.
Turn the other cheek gently and change the violent phrase to one of strong peace.
Strong people don’t have to look like a raging hippo.
They have to look like Mother Teresa.
The Daily Paradox will be somewhat intermittent for the next month due to travel. We’ll keep in touch whenever we can and wish you the very best for your holidays.