by Larry Peery and Kristian Bonnici

Ask any Dipper who created Diplomacy and the changes are you’ll be told Allan B. Calhamer (by the Old Farts, which raises the question, “Do you know what the B. stood for?”) or perhaps Allan Calhamer (by the younger generation). I’ve never heard anybody refer to him as Al Calhamer — so I guess he did get that point across during his life in the hobby.

But what about Diplomacy, who created it? There’s little doubt that the best known living diplomat in the world today is Henry Kissinger. Ninety years old today, he made the transition from academic (at Harvard) to Rockefeller Republican to Nixon’s National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State from 1968-1977, followed by thirty-six years of almost unending exposure as a commentator and pundit on international affairs. During his peak years he dealt with major problems like: Détente and the opening to China, Vietnam War, 1971-1972 Indian-Pakistani War, Israeli policy and Soviet Jewry, 1973 Yom Kippur War, and Latin American policy, intervention in Chile, Argentina, Africa, and East Timor. In later years he sought to shape US foreign policy in Yugoslavia, Iraq, India, China and Iran with marginal success. Unquestionably the highlight of his career came with the joint awarding of the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. Although he had many triumphs in his career, historians have tended to focus more on his failures. I’ve read all of his books and many of his articles and papers and I always suggest to Dippers they read his Memoirs (3 volumes), Diplomacy, and his very first book on Castlereagh and Metternich which basically outlines his key ideas. In another article I intend to discuss Kissinger and his only creditable rival for diplomatic influence in the US in recent years.

Surprisingly, perhaps, I find no great diplomats during the period of WWI and WWII. Perhaps if we had any those wars wouldn’t have happened. However, there were two pairs of American brothers who greatly influenced US diplomacy in the period after WWII and into the early years of The Cold War. John Foster Dulles (Secretary of State) and his brother Allen (head of the CIA); and John Kennedy (President) and his brother Robert (Attorney General) both worked as a team in creating US foreign policy.

Interestingly, I find the best diplomats during the WWI era came at the end of the war at the Versailles Peace Treaty negotiations in 1919 and were to be found among the representatives from the lesser or minor powers, not the Big Three. Smuts of South Africa and Selassie of Ethiopia immediately come to mind. I’ve mentioned Castlereagh and Metternich who greatly influenced the Congress of Vienna in 1815, perhaps the first “modern” diplomatic summit.

Before that we are looking at a period when the kings and emperors pretty much acted as their own diplomats, although gradually England and France followed the Italian states such as Venice and Florence in creating diplomatic corps; which in turn arose from the model created by the Papal States. A good argument can be made for crediting Machiavelli’s The Prince (now five hundred years old) with being the first modern text book on matters diplomatic. There is no doubt that the Renaissance was the mid-wife of modern Diplomacy.

Before that we can pass quickly through the Medieval and Dark Ages to the times of the Roman Empire. Here again, strong rulers made their own diplomacy: Caesar and Cleopatra being one good example. Under the Republic Roman foreign policy was handled by the consuls with consultations with the Senate. Grecian diplomacy was a sometimes skillful and sometimes not mixture of tragedy and comedy.

But let’s return to Egypt and Cleopatra. Here I think we are close to the roots of diplomacy. And here I will turn the story over to a man who knows far more about this subject than I do. Kristian Bonnici is a fascinating person in his own right, and I strongly suggest you do a Google search on him and read some of the things he’s written.


Kristian comes from Malta where he was educated (M.A. in Diplomatic Studies) and became a member of the Diplomatic Corps. He served a time in Cairo where he developed an interest in two ancient Egyptian rulers that led to a couple of interesting articles that developed considerable interest among foreign diplomats. And, by coincidence, he also had some exposure to the game of Diplomacy in school. Today he lives in Canberra, Australia where he runs a diplomatic envoy consulting firm.


In 2010 Kristian published an article, “Amenhotep III — The Father of Diplomacy,” in Daily News Egypt and later in The Egyptian Gazette & “Ancient Egypt” Magazine in 2012. A Google search will lead you to the entire four page article, but Bonnici sums it up this way:

“Amenhotep III should be established as the father of diplomacy. The researcher came to this conclusion after going as historically deep as possible to find a person who successfully used diplomacy to reach his/her country’s foreign policy objectives. The oldest detailed records found were the Amarna letters (More information on these can be found with a Google search. Lwp). From this diplomatic correspondence, a diplomat towers above all others in the ancient world. He is Amenhotep III, who reigned from 1391-1353 B.C.”

The Amarna letters, found in the ancient capital of Akhetaten, are indeed most interesting. The one entitled “When an ant is struck.” Should be required reading for all aspiring diplomats or Dippers.

In 2013 Bonnici published his second major article, “Ramses the Great — The Father of Public Relations,” in Ancient Egypt Magazine, Daily News Egypt and Free Online Dictionary. Again, you should be able to find it with a Google search.

At the time he wrote this he was the Embassy of Malta’s deputy head of mission and an expert in public relations. In the article he states his belief that Ramesses was the first historical figure to show a detailed understanding of public relations.

“The aim of public relations is reputation management, he said. Out of all the pharaohs, Ramesses had the most legacy of impact.”

(Personally, my vote would go to Cleopatra whose manipulation of Antony, Caesar, Shakespeare, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, and Mankiewicz was remarkably enduring. LWP).

Finally, to learn more about Kristian Bonnici there’s a video on the www.timesofmalta.com website. I suggest you Dippers in Australia track him down and invite him to your next Diplomacy event, and certainly the next WDC you host.

Thanks to Kristian for his help in putting this together!

Larry Peery
and Kristian Bonnici (c/o Larry Peery)

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