Chief Diplomat

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Job Discription

Introduction

Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states. It usually refers to international diplomacy, the conduct of international relations through the intercession of professional diplomats with regard to issues of peacemaking, trade, war, economics, culture, environment and human rights. International treaties are usually negotiated by diplomats prior to endorsement by national politicians. In an informal or social sense, diplomacy is the employment of tact to gain strategic advantage or to find mutually acceptable solutions to a common challenge, one set of tools being the phrasing of statements in a nonconfrontational, or polite manner.

U.S. President as Chief Diplomat

Although the Constitution does not explicitly grant presidents the power to recognize foreign governments, it is generally accepted that they have this power as a result of their constitutional authority to "send and receive ambassadors. " This is generally known as the "appointment power" of the presidency. Because the acts of sending an ambassador to a country and receiving its representative imply recognition of the legitimacy of the foreign government involved, presidents have successfully claimed exclusive authority to decide which foreign governments are recognized by the United States. It follows, then, that they have the power to terminate relations with other nations as well.

Along with naming judges, presidents appoint ambassadors and executive officers. These appointments require Senate confirmation. If Congress is not in session, presidents can make temporary appointments known as recess appointments without Senate confirmation, good until the end of the next session of Congress.

Although not constitutionally provided, presidents also sometimes employ "executive agreements" in foreign relations. These agreements frequently regard administrative policy choices germane to executive power; for example, the extent to which either country presents an armed presence in a given area, how each country will enforce copyright treaties, or how each country will process foreign mail. However, the 20th century witnessed a vast expansion of the use of executive agreements, and critics have challenged the extent of that use as supplanting the treaty process and removing constitutionally prescribed checks and balances over the executive in foreign relations. Supporters counter that the agreements offer a pragmatic solution when the need for swift, secret, and/or concerted action arises.

Informal Diplomacy

Informal diplomacy has been used for centuries to communicate between powers. Most diplomats work to recruit figures in other nations who might be able to give informal access to a country's leadership. On some occasion a former holder of an official position continues to carry out an informal diplomatic activity after retirement. In some cases, governments welcome such activity, for example as a means of establishing an initial contact with a hostile state of group without being formally committed. In other cases, however, such informal diplomats seek to promote a political agenda different from that of the government currently in power. Such informal diplomacy is practiced by former US Presidents Jimmy Carter and (to a lesser extent) Bill Clinton and by the former Israeli diplomat and minister Yossi Beilin.

The appointment power of the President allows him or her to appoint and receive ambassadors around the world.

Additional Information

LEARNING OBJECTIVE

  • Explain the President's role as chief diplomat

KEY POINTS

    • Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states. In an informal or social sense, diplomacy is the employment of tact to gain strategic advantage or to find mutually acceptable solutions to a common challenge.
    • The President is the nation's chief diplomat; they have the power make treaties that are then subject to ratification by the Senate.
    • It is generally accepted that they have the President has the power as a result of their constitutional authority to "send and receive ambassadors. " This is generally known as the "appointment power" of the presidency.
    • Along with naming judges, presidents appoint ambassadors and executive officers. If Congress is not in session, presidents can make temporary appointments known as recess appointments without Senate confirmation, good until the end of the next session of Congress.

TERMS

  • diplomacy


    The art and practice of conducting international relations by negotiating alliances, treaties, agreements, etc., bilaterally or multilaterally, between states and sometimes international organizations or even between policies with varying statuses, such as those of monarchs and their princely vassals.


  • appointment power


    The appointment power of the presidency refers to the president's constitutional authority to appoint and receive ambassadors to and from other countries.


  • recess appointments


    Along with naming judges, presidents appoint ambassadors and executive officers. These appointments require Senate confirmation. If Congress is not in session, presidents can make temporary appointments known as recess appointments without Senate confirmation, good until the end of the next session of Congress.


EXAMPLE

    • Informal diplomacy has been used for centuries to communicate between powers. Most diplomats work to recruit figures in other nations who might be able to give informal access to a country's leadership. Such informal diplomacy was practiced by former US Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and by the former Israeli diplomat and minister Yossi Beilin.