Why the baroque politeness of diplomatic notes is what the world needs now

According to historian Gordon A. Craig, many people dismiss diplomatic notes as “a form of literature scarcely more exciting than seed catalogues.” Yet the exchanges, Craig argues, can in fact be riveting. Part of the pleasure comes from reading between the lines, or even counting the number of lines. “The shorter the note, the deeper the threat,” says Allan Gotlieb, a former Canadian ambassador to the United States.