Saturday, February 20, 2010

Diplomats Among Warriors

John Prados, a senior fellow of the National Security Archive in Washington, DC, has some remarks for diplomatic historians on the blurry border between diplomatic and military matters. A single quote will convey his point:

As a matter of historical study, however, we have too long been at pains to separate the diplomatic from the military. These are conceived as different fields of inquiry, and camps of historians working each side of this street have looked askance at colleagues on the other curb. Academic programs did not require much in the way of training across these subject boundaries. As for the relevant professional organizations, the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations and the Society for Military History, for a very long time you could not find a historian who held membership in both those groups. Then there was one, then a few. The situation today is somewhat better but still far from where it needs to be. Diplomatic historians tend to regard military specialists as too narrow, military historians tend to see diplomatic experts as naïve and superficial. Not only does this bifurcation exist in an environment in which both schools of history are under challenge from other historical specialties, but in a real world in which, as argued here, both disciplines are necessary to properly analyze developments.

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