Event report – Weapons of Mass Diplomacy

The Library attended the conference-discussion organised by Carnegie Europe entitled ‘Weapons of Mass Diplomacy’, with Antonin Baudry and Pierre Vimont as participants and Jan Techau as moderator.

Antonin Baudry is the author of the acclaimed graphic satirical novel “Quai d’Orsay”, or “Weapons of Mass Diplomacy” in its English version. In that novel, Baudry describes his experience as speechwriter to the former French minister for foreign affairs, Dominique de Villepin, during the period that followed the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq by an international coalition led by the US. Pierre Vimont is a well-known French diplomat and was Villepin’s chief of staff during the same period. His character, that of the foreign minister and the speechwriter himself are the only real-life characters that appear in the graphic novel.

Diplomacy is about words; you don’t have any other weapons

The discussion, together with the Q&A session that followed, gave very interesting insights into how a foreign affairs ministry operates, with many anecdotes that illustrated, in an often satirical way, how crucial decisions are taken. As Baudry explained, his graphic novel was “one of the best marketing products the French ministry of foreign affairs could have even thought of”.weapons2

The event was also timely in the light of the recent publication of the Chilcot report, which was very critical of the UK’s role in the invasion of Iraq. As recalled during the conference, the invasion of Iraq produced a dangerous new division in Europe during the early 2000s, with France and Germany (“the old Europe”), together with Russia, opposing the military intervention and with, on the other side, the UK, Spain, Portugal and many of the newer EU member states supporting the US in its military plans.

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