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Diplomatic illness

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Diplomatic illness is the practice amongst diplomats and government ministers of feigning illness, or another debilitating condition, to avoid engaging in diplomatic or social engagements.[1] The excuse of ill-health is designed to avoid formally offending the host or other parties.[2][3] The term also refers to the period during which the "diplomatic illness" is claimed to persist.


  • General John J. Pershing, on his return in 1926 from unsuccessful negotiations between Peru, Bolivia and Chile and suffering from ill-health, was stated by his critics to have a "diplomatic illness".[4]
  • During the Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia in 1948, foreign minister Jan Masaryk was thought to have a "diplomatic illness", as he stayed out of touch with many of his former foreign contacts.[5]
  • American political activist Lyndon LaRouche writes in his autobiography "The Power of Reason" that in 1975 the Iraqi ambassador to Paris, after a meeting, telephoned to advise him to contract a "diplomatic illness" rather than attend a seminar as had been arranged. The ambassador explained that LaRouche appeared to be under surveillance.[6]
  • A temporary absence of Bosnian Serb leader Ratko Mladic, at a time in 1995 when Bosnian Serb forces were withdrawing near Sarajevo under an agreement with NATO, was ascribed by some sources to "diplomatic illness".[7]
  • Boris Yeltsin, the then leader of the Russian Federation, was sometimes claimed to be invoking "diplomatic illness". One occasion was in 1994 on the outbreak of the First Chechen War;[8] another coincided with a 1998 summit meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States,[9] and another was in 1999 when he was due to sign a treaty with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.[10] The allegations were dubious, as Yeltsin suffered from repeated genuine bouts of ill-health.[10]
  • Polish leader Lech Kaczyński cited illness to avoid a Weimar Triangle meeting in the wake of a diplomatic dispute with Germany in 2006.[11]
  • In December 2012 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton cited a virus infection and concussion as reason not to appear before Congress in connection with the September terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. Clinton had been scheduled to respond to questions about whether security failures were to blame for the attack. John R. Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations, described this as a "diplomatic illness",[12] and Republican representative Allen West termed it as "Benghazi flu".[13] The effects of concussion were later confirmed in hospital tests[14] and Clinton gave her testimony the following month.[15]

Related terms


  1. ^ G. Berridge; L. Lloyd (25 January 2012). The Palgrave Macmillan Dictionary of Diplomacy. Palgrave Macmillan UK. p. 79. ISBN 978-1-137-01761-1.
  2. ^ Definition in The Legal Dictionary
  3. ^ Glossary of Diplomatic Terms. eDiplomat. Retrieved on 2006-08-14.
  4. ^ Don M. Coerver; Linda Biesele Hall (1999). Tangled Destinies: Latin America and the United States. UNM Press. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-8263-2117-6.
  5. ^ Slovak studies. Slovak Institute. 1981. p. 207.
  6. ^ Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. (2 September 2015). The Power of Reason 1988: An Autobiography By Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. Executive Intelligence Review. pp. 194–5. GGKEY:U0UK75XYHUB.
  7. ^ ADRIAN BROWN. "Bosnian Serb forces withdraw heavy artillery from Sarajevo." The Irish Times. September 20, 1995. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from HighBeam Research.
  8. ^ a b c R. W. Holder (25 September 2008). Dictionary of Euphemisms. OUP Oxford. p. 152. ISBN 0-19-923517-1.
  9. ^ MITCHELL LANDSBERG. "Yeltsin regains voice, resumes work at suburban residence." AP Online. Press Association, Inc. March 18, 1998. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from HighBeam Research.
  10. ^ a b Goble, Paul (November 9, 1999). "Russia: Analysis From Washington -- A Diplomatic Illness?". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
  11. ^ Kolosowska, Krysia (January 5, 2007). "A diplomatic illness?". Polskie Radio. Retrieved 2007-04-25.
  12. ^ Richter, Paul (December 19, 2012). "Clinton accused of faking illness to avoid Benghazi testimony". Los Angeles Times.
  13. ^ Weiner, Rachel. "Allen West: Clinton Has 'Benghazi'; Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) Sees Something More Sinister Than a Stomach Virus in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Absence from Two Capitol Hill Hearings on the Attacks in Libya Thursday Morning." The Washington Post. December 20, 2012. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from HighBeam Research.
  14. ^ "Hillary Clinton in Hospital after Blood Clot Discovered; Doctors Say It Stems from Concussion; She's Being Treated with Anticoagulants." The Seattle Times. December 31, 2012. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from HighBeam Research.
  15. ^ Rubin, Jennifer. "Clinton'showstopper at Benghazi Hearings (Posted 2013-01-24 00:35:02); Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate Testimony on Benghazi, Libya, Certainly Was Interesting." The Washington Post. January 24, 2013. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from HighBeam Research.
This page was last edited on 24 February 2019, at 03:56
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