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Selling Missile Defence in Norway: The Limits of Diplomacy

May 5, 2011

I’m in a bit of rush this morning so here’s another cable from the Aftenposten files.

This is a cable from the Oslo Embassy from March 2007.  At this point the Bush Administration is trying to get NATO members to buy into its plans for ballistic missile defence in Europe over Russian objections.  The cable details the efforts of the embassy to build support for the US position and why they aren’t going to achieve anything.

There are couple of things here that go to recurring themes in this blog.  Firstly, the limits on the impact of public diplomacy provided by the politics of other countries.   The key political actors in Norway have their own reasons for not engaging with the issues not least the fact that opposition to missile defence is written into the coalition agreement that created the government.  Secondly, the blurring of the distinction between diplomacy and public diplomacy – the embassy has reached out to senior government officials, parliamentarians, civil servants, think tanks and journalists and written op ed pieces.  This is just what has to be done in dealing with democratic countries.

An additional theme running through the message is the way that the efforts to promote missile defence have created an opportunity for Russia to try and undermine alliance through its own diplomatic efforts which in turn creates the requirement for the US embassy to do more to counter this.

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