By its very nature Diplomacy is a game of secrecy and usually the stakes being played are not those the diplomats announce publicly. Before Nixon went to #china in 1972 there had been the so-called “Ping Pong diplomacy” where a tour of an American ping pong team, shown in the film ‘Forrest Gump’. would have hidden the negotiations for the presidential visit. Without doubt these negotiations continued until the moment of Nixon’s arrival in Beijing.

That was the final step of a path that had begun at end of World War Two. China and the United States had been at war openly and secretly in Korea and Vietnam and many other Asian countries, including Indonesia and Malaysia, had been presumptive battle fields against communist insurgents as part of the Domino Principle that once dominated American international politics.

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The rules of Diplomacy

While the public sees the open and often hypocritical face of the public announcements, such as the ceremonies for of Heads of State, the stakes at play are not just the friendly terms between individual countries, but also the positions of the allies of each country on the chess board of international politics. The call between President elect Donald Trump and Tsai Ying-wen President-elect Donald Trump recently spoke on the phone with Taiwan President Tsai Ying-wen has the potential of throwing all the pieces of the game up into the air and restarting with a new game.

Trump’s recalcitrant refusal to attend the regular security briefings which are a traditional part of the transition process means that he is not aware of the daily changes of tactics by the players overseas that are effectively America’s rival not only in international politics, but also in international trade.

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Due to the eternally unstable behaviour of North Korea, China’s the Chinese have now launched their latest nuclear-powered attack submarine. openly aggressive foreign policy in the South China Sea with the major expansion of its military forces including new aircraft carriers, together with a more expansionist and aggressive Russia in a period where there the Islam fanatics are destabilizing many of America’s traditional allies, mean that changes on the board of Diplomacy are constant and rarely without major effects.

Trump and the new game of Diplomacy

Naturally the hidden stakes of the game are a major part of the negotiations between countries and one of the reasons for the secrecy that has always cloaked these negotiations. Treaties between countries that usually end the diplomacy rarely fail to have terms regarding commercial exchanges and amongst these can be access to mineral and energy resources which are the life blood of any country and lead to huge profits for the major corporations of the countries involved.

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Any major change in the political stance attitude of a major player does not happen on the spur of the moment, but often after behind the scenes negotiations that newspapers never report. If a major announcement is made without these preparations they risk opening up conflicts that, while not necessarily military, could put at risk the wary peace between the superpowers. The lesson of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939 that divided Poland and created a temporary peace between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s USSR is ever present in the minds of diplomats.

For these reasons the recent round of calls between Trump and world leaders has caused dismay in many quarters and not just inside the U.S and China, as it heralds possible changes in American international politics for which many of its allies may not be ready. The President elect would do well to remember that Diplomacy is not a game of selling properties to new customers and using flattering language. It is a game where every word carries a heavy burden and choosing the wrong word can be the difference between peace and war.

The game of Diplomacy is secretive, but the consequences of losing any round are too public and horrible to risk, by any country. #Donald Trump