Here is Baroness Ashton laying out her stall for EU collective foreign policy, in an ill-drafted text piling on one wordy cliche after another:
I believe that a lot can be achieved with quiet diplomacy. We need people who can listen as well as talk, and who can work behind the scenes as well as in the glare of the spotlight. What we also need is concerted action to achieve our goals.
My first priority will be to build the new diplomatic service that the Lisbon treaty foresees. The European External Action Service will be based in Brussels, with representations throughout the world. It should be a network that is the pride of Europe and the envy of the rest of the world, with the most talented people from all member states of the EU working in our common interest.
My objective is to enhance co-operation, to use the various crisis-management tools we already have and develop them and our civilian and military capabilities further in order to get the job done.
Memo to PS/EU High Representative: when you use the word ‘develop’ in a draft text served up to the boss, you do not need to add the word ‘further’, since develop means do something further – see? Oh, and the phrase ‘in order to’ wastes time: a simple ‘to’ is fine.
My aim is to enhance co-operation, to use our crisis-management tools and develop our civilian and military capabilities to get the job done.
Much better and clearer, because some ten words shorter.
Or for a speech, even shorter:
My aim is to enhance co-operation. To use our crisis-management tools. To develop our civilian and military capabilities.
To get the job done.
That at least sounds like someone who means business.
Back on the substance, it does not matter whether you speak loudly or whisper.
What matters is the core weight you bring to the negotiation concerned:
- what will the other side get if it does what you want?
- what will the other side pay or lose if it does not do what you want?
In a word, our old friends benefits and costs, or sticks and carrots.
Behind them lies the hardest part of diplomacy. Credibility.
It is not enough to offer nice carrots, if the other side does not believe that they exist or that you can deliver them.
And it is not enough to threaten sticks if the other side does not think you have the will to use them – and to continue using them for long enough to really hurt.
Together with our partners, we will keep pressure on Iran to meet international obligations on its nuclear programme.
And when that does not work?
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran on Wednesday test fired an upgraded version of an advanced missile capable of hitting Israel and parts of Europe, an apparent show of strength aimed at discouraging attacks on its nuclear facilities.
The test of the medium-range Sajjil-2 fueled calls for tougher sanctions against Tehran, which has resisted U.N. demands that it rein in its nuclear ambitions. Iran touted the launch as a success proving it can deter any U.S. or Israeli military strike against its nuclear facilities.
Look at this fine example of the best possible diplomatic message not to send on such an occasion, emitted not by the weedy EU but by the even more weedy FCO:
Britain’s Foreign Office said Iran has the "clear intention to extend the range of its missiles," calling the launch "the wrong signal to send when the international community is trying to find a diplomatic solution" to its growing nuclear program.
Why is that the wrong signal to send if you are the regime in Tehran?
What if it wants to send a signal high in the sky attached to a nuclear missile saying Screw you, puny West – we’ll do what the hell we please!
What if the ‘international community’ is trying to find a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions, and Iran just wants the nukes?
You can be sure of one thing.
If Iran blows Israel off the map (or vice versa), Baroness Ashton and EU Foreign Ministers will have a very urgent meeting on the subject.
And maybe even issue a Strong Declaration.