One Big Thing
An old diplomat tells his story
William Burns provides a master class on diplomacy and foreign policy.
August 1905 was a busy time in the otherwise sleepy coastal town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Teddy Roosevelt, the Rough Rider President, was feverishly working to end the Russo-Japanese war, a year-and-a-half-long conflict for control and influence in Asia.
By force of will or deft touch, Roosevelt brokered a deal that ended the war and, as serving as a vital link in foreign affairs, quickly elevated America's standing in the world.
TR's diplomatic achievement was in an era when major powers still fought wars over territory. He didn't have to deal with intercontinental missiles, nuclear weapons, and proliferating cyber threats.
Nevertheless, TR is part of a long gray line of diplomats who have skillfully managed the pressing challenges of their time.
William Burns once said that diplomacy is not the world's oldest profession, but it remains one of the most misunderstood.
If you're interested in one man's oh-so-human diplomatic lessons from Reagan through Obama, The Back Channel is a great place to start.