The linguistic expertise of British diplomacy

The British Foreign Minister, William Hague, has just made a statement to Parliament on Britain’s future diplomatic network (11 May 2011). It describes some of the spending cuts, rationalisation and refocusing of the UK’s diplomatic network that will be taking place throughout the current Parliament. Mr Hague adds that:

This development of our network should be seen alongside the Diplomatic Excellence initiative which I have instigated in the FCO and which began six months ago. This places a renewed emphasis on policy creativity, in depth knowledge of other nations, geographic and linguistic expertise and the enhancement of traditional diplomatic skills in a manner suitable for the modern world.

The bolding is mine. I think it’s great that William Hague values linguistic expertise and the in-depth knowledge of other nations that often goes with it. But I’m wondering how Britain is going to nurture those qualities if our schools and universities go on slashing language courses.

By Marian Dougan

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