IssueNet Edition| Date : 23 May , 2014
Questioned ‘why do we need military officers to engage in diplomacy, Nitin Pai, founder and fellow for geopolitics at the Takshila Institute, had replied, “Not only does the nature of contemporary international politics call for it, but other important nations practice it. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US and the four-star generals that head its Theatre Commands are important players in operationalizing Washington’s foreign policy around the world. The Pentagon’s foreign policy resources are comparable to the State Department’s. Look around the neighbourhood. The armed forces are key players in politics and security policies of all our neighbours, from China to Indonesia, from Pakistan to Myanmar.”
China’s military diplomacy is based on security and geopolitical interests and calculation, which are driving the modernization of the PLA in an effort to improve China’s stature in the international security environment.
Military diplomacy can be defined as using the resources of the armed forces of a nation to promote its national security interests. This implies peaceful application of resources from across the spectrum of defence, to achieve positive outcomes in the development of a country’s bilateral and multilateral relationships. Viewing military diplomacy only in terms of defence attachés, personnel exchanges, ship/ aircraft visits, meetings / forums, training / exercises would not address the issue holistically. Military diplomacy is developed and implemented conjointly by the foreign and defence ministries and is often associated with conflict prevention and application of the military. It is distinct from the concept of ‘coercive diplomacy’ which is generally motivated by desire to intimidate potential adversaries. While application of national power should be through domains of diplomacy, information operations, military and economic, military diplomacy can contribute in all the four. When John F Kennedy said “Diplomacy and Defence are not substitutes for one another, either alone would fail”, this covered the necessity to synergize national security and military diplomacy as well.