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Diplomacy by Conference

Nature volume 158, pages 770771 (30 November 1946) | Download Citation



THE timing of publication of Lord Hankey's books is masterly. The publication of his Lees Knowles Lecture fast year synchronized with debates on science and national defence in the light of the implications of atomic warfare. “Diplomacy by Conference” now appears almost simultaneously with a new White Paper, “Control Organisation for Defence”, which gives expression to many ideas advocated by Lord Hankey in both books. The title, however, gives no indication that this new volume, like the first, is a contribution to the whole theory and practice of government under the searching demands not only of war but also of peace. The book is, as the sub-title indicates, a series of studies in public affairs, lucidly and vividly presented, and of profound interest to the ordinary citizen as to the historian or statesman. From the first, to which the book owes its title, to the last which looks to the future control of external affairs, they are illumined by shrewd comment, keen observation and a human touch, and should go far to assist in the formation of a sound opinion on the working of the United Nations Organisation, the machinery or organisation for defence or the reform of the Foreign Service. Diplomacy by conference, Lord Hankey believes, has come to stay, and his personal experience leads him to regard elasticity of procedure, small numbers, informality, mutual acquaintance, if not personal friendship among the principals, a proper perspective between secrecy in deliberation and, publicity in results, reliable secretaries and interpreters as the most important factors in success, and which are the more essential the more delicate the subjects.

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