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The long path from words to deeds

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At leisure — or rather, carving out a couple of hours of sleep time — I looked through various statements of Western diplomats and politicians regarding Belarus and the war against Ukraine. As a result, I got a pocket dictionary of deep concern.

And I want to share with you the most popular phrases from it:

"We are (very / deeply / extremely / gravely / seriously / significantly / firmly) concerned"
— there can be varying degrees of concern, as you see.

If necessary,
"We are worried" or "We are (deeply) troubled" can also be used instead of "concerned".

You can also stretch the expression of concern over time using the phrases
"We remain extremely concerned" or "We continue to be gravely concerned".

Instead of concern, you can express regret, for example
"We deplore" or "We (deeply) regret";

or condemnation (including the most decisive), for example
"We (strongly) condemn" or "We condemn in the strongest possible terms";

or a number of the most popular emotions in the Western diplomatic palette:

  • "We are (very / deeply / extremely) saddened";
  • "We are (very / deeply / extremely) alarmed";
  • "We are (very / deeply / extremely) appalled";
  • "We are (very / deeply / extremely) shocked";
  • "We are (very / deeply / extremely) horrified".

There was also a wonderful quote worthy of becoming an epigraph to this dictionary:

Finbarr Bermingham
Twitter: Finbarr Bermingham

As you can see, there are so many levels of concern (which is confirmed by the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell), that it can really be expressed endlessly.

If there is a desire to play in emotional shades, then you can also express regret, sadness, condemnation, shock and so on. And also — at all available levels.

And if there is no desire or time to select the wording, then you can always say that you "remain concerned".

But seriously speaking, I’m "deeply concerned" (although "extremely saddened" would probably be best here) with how the language of diplomacy continues to discredit itself.

How more and more new levels of "concern" continue to be generated — in response to all the threats and challenges that dictators, terrorists and war criminals continue to put before us, who have long given a damn about anyone’s concerns.

And how do these threats become a reality as Western concerns shift from one level to another.

Olaf Scholz
Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz

But it is precisely the length of the path from words to deeds that distinguishes tyrants and aggressors from Western politicians. It is much shorter for the first ones. So isn’t it time to think about how to shorten this path for the second ones? How to stop being "second" on this path, in principle?

I think it’s worth starting with honest answers to direct questions:

  • How many levels of concern should Western diplomacy (bureaucracy?) go through before moving on to real action? Is it possible to skip all these levels and immediately move from words to deeds?

  • Isn’t it time to reconsider the very concept of concern and write a new dictionary — a dictionary of political will and practical actions, not diplomatic aphorisms?

  • And the last question: at what "level" is Belarus today in this skillful game of words? Belarus, occupied by Russia and usurped by its puppet Lukashenko. Belarus, which has turned into a military aggressor as defined by the relevant resolution of the UN General Assembly.

I propose to discuss this together. And as a former diplomat, I would be especially grateful for the ideas of alternative wording for creating a new dictionary of diplomacy — a dictionary of real deeds, instead of a dictionary of routine statements.

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