"The diplomat has suffered from a bad press for a long time. Sir Henry Wooton, in the 17th century, said a diplomat is 'an honest man sent to lie abroad for his country', a comment that has been quoted by almost everyone writing about diplomacy ever since. The profession of diplomacy cannot seem to shake Sir Henry's witticism. Yet the remark also implied that there were layers of behavior involved, between states or governments with their raisons d'états on the surface, and individual agents or diplomats with their personal ethical concerns just underneath. Diplomacy is a practice as old as the first empires and states in the Ancient World. Obviously there was always some truth to Sir Henry's remark. The closed political world of kings and courts and tyrants practiced a form of diplomacy among intimates and in back rooms much as we see enshrined in the 'Sopranos' and the 'Godfather' TV series. Through the Renaissance and up to the end of the 18th century, the diplomat played the role noted by Sir Henry and others: private agents of absolute monarchs operating in the shadows and the bedroom. As Napoleon put it at the end of this era 'Ambassadors are, in the full meaning of the terms, titled spies.' Napoleon's perspective is understandable. He was, after all, an emperor and as such practiced classic diplomacy where only the thinnest of lines separated diplomacy from intrigue."
Fort Leavenworth Ethics Symposium: http://www.leavenworthethicssymposium.org/
Fort Leavenworth Ethics Symposium. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. 3-6 December 2012.