Emotional Diplomacy: Official Emotion on the International Stage

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Emotional Diplomacy: Official Emotion on the International Stage
By Todd H. Hall
Cornell University Press, 2015
264 pp.
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In this pathbreaking study, Hall argues that emotionalism in diplomacy often serves a strategic purpose. Emotional outbursts can be useful for states seeking to reframe issues and project a new image to foreign audiences. In the 1995–96 crisis in the Taiwan Strait, China employed what Hall calls “the diplomacy of anger,” seeking to signal through provocative missile tests that Washington had crossed a boundary by allowing Taiwan’s president to visit the United States. Following the 9/11 attacks, China and Russia engaged in “the diplomacy of sympathy,” signaling tacit acceptance of the United States’ security predicament and suggesting new possibilities for great-power accommodation. Germany’s postwar “diplomacy of guilt” toward Israel has entailed not just statements of remorse but also costly reparations, through which Germany has rehabilitated its international image. Hall paints a fascinating picture of emotionalism as both diplomatic theater and rational calculation, but his book is inconclusive on its efficacy. Hall thinks that the “sincerity” of emotional gestures matters. Yet in politics, it’s often difficult to know exactly what to consider sincere.

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