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APRIL 2016




Learning from Diplomatic Successes


On Feb. 18, Ambassador

Robert Hutchings kicked

off the American Foreign

Service Association’s 2016

Book Notes series with a

talk on his new book, Foreign Policy Breakthroughs: Cases in Successful Diplomacy.

The event was moder-

ated by Ambassador Bar-

bara Bodine, Distinguished

Professor of the Practice of

Diplomacy and director of

the Institute for Diplomatic

Studies at Georgetown


Co-edited with Dr. Jeremi


Foreign Policy Break-


features nine case

studies in successful diplo-

macy from both the United

States and abroad.

These include post-World

War II relief, the evolution

of the non-aligned move-

ment, the 1972 Nixon visit to

China, the North American

Free Trade Agreement, the

Camp David Accords, the

reunification of Germany,

the establishment of the

European Union and pre-

2001 relief aid to Afghani-


During his talk, Amb.

Hutchings highlighted the

book’s 10 key lessons in

diplomacy. For instance, he

cited the recent nuclear deal

with Iran as an example of

the first lesson: success fol-

lows failure.

Even though early phases

of the negotiation were

unsuccessful, the exercise

allowed diplomats to learn

more about Iran’s negotia-

tion style and what it consid-

ered to be its most signifi-

cant national interests.

In another illustration,

Hutchings described Presi-

dent Richard Nixon’s 1972

visit to China as an example

of how the conduct of diplo-

macy sometimes requires a

careful mix of secrecy and


Without discretion early

in the process, Nixon would

have faced huge opposi-

tion on Capitol Hill, and

consequently, may not have

restored diplomatic rela-

tions with China.

In response to a ques-

tion from Amb. Bodine on

how to best deal with other

governments whose policies

we disagree with, Hutchings

stressed the importance

of having diplomats on the

ground in every nation,

despite our differences. The

United States is still paying,

he argued, for not securing

diplomatic relations with

Iran many years ago.

The event concluded with

a Q&A session during which

both ambassadors shared

lessons learned from their


Anyone with an interest

in diplomacy as a profes-

sion, including members

Ambassador Robert Hutchings responds to questions on his new book,

Foreign Policy Breakthroughs,

at the AFSA

Book Notes event.


of the Foreign Service, as

well as university and high

school students aspiring to

a career in the field, will find

value in the pages of


Policy Breakthroughs



to view a recording of this

event. For a review of the

book by Amb. Bodine, see

the December 2015


Service Journal



—Briar Blount,

Communications Intern