Book Review: Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy by Chas W Freeman, Jr

Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy is a book about the diplomat’s weapon and the knack of managing a state’s relationship with other states- issues as old as recorded time. In this comprehensive treatise, the author outlines the basic tenets the art of statecraft and the skills of diplomatic rhetoric.

Using his experience as a foreign diplomat and his knowledge of many nations, as a backdrop, Charles Freeman provides a detailed roadmap to successful negotiation. He discusses the roles of politics, culture, intelligence gathering, military measures and economic power, as well as the art and rhetoric of diplomatic statecraft as applied under international law.

Arts of Power is a thesis on negotiation, the diplomat’s weapon. The author describes the usefulness of the applications of force and intelligence to international relations. He emphasizes the nuts and bolts of statecraft, the practical side of a diplomat’s job and the application of a code of ethics to international law.

In the first part of the book, Freeman discusses intelligence gathering, covert activities, power, political influences, cultural measures, economic measures of the states, military tactics and non-violence, as well as changes in the international state system, the international order, the interests of other states, and the constant evolution of international law as part of the interests and concerns of a nation.

In the second section, the author progresses to the importance of negotiation, the diplomat’s weapon, and the strategies, tactics and manoeuvres, as well as the relationship between the states and why and how diplomats are used. He talks about the traditions of the international system and the reordering of relations between states during peacetime.

The third portion of the book involves a description of the job of a diplomat and the importance of diplomatic rhetoric, advocacy and stewardship. Freeman also discusses the fact that states have different cultures, traditions, and historical experience and how they must bridge these differences in order to function under an international state system. This is a powerful book, easily one of the most comprehensive guides to the art of statecraft in existence today. It is an interesting read because it offers professionals and non-professionals alike an important guide to understanding diplomacy and international ethics. It is a valuable guide for the professional diplomat, an informative manual for students, and even the non-diplomat reader who wants to the secrets of power.

There have been a few other books written on this subject. Arts of Power provides a bridge to fill in the gaps between the few available works on this topic. It is different because it is written by a real diplomat, an ambassador tasked with maintaining peace at all costs.

2011 Moira G Gallaga©

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