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Seraph IX Basarab: A Diplomat’s Role

May 30, 2016

By Seraph IX Basarab

Hello, my name is Seraph IX Basarab and I’m a writer here at EN24 contributing opinion/analysis pieces focusing on politics and war in Eve Online. I’m also part of Psychotic Tendencies serving their diplomatic needs as requested. The views shared in this article are mine and not anyone else’s.

I have been meaning to write more on the subject of diplomacy for some time, precisely what diplomacy is expected to do and how diplomats are viewed internally. In my experience diplomats are seen as this sort of necessary evil dark force that an alliance may try to harness but ultimately distrusts. They are some warlock that can manipulate the elements and read the minds of people and yet this tie to the underworld makes them almost too risky to make use of. This perception is based on a very linear thought process in Eve: Diplomacy is meta-gaming, and meta-gaming is ultimately there to scam people therefore if you are involved in diplomacy the less trustworthy you are. The less you like diplomacy, the less you are likely to meta game thus the more trustworthy you are. Unfortunately, this notion is precipitated by the Eve environment itself. Plenty of people have joined Eve because of the freedom you have to be some sort of spymaster and the mystique it allows one to play around. The secretive nature of this play style allows one to cultivate an image of having accomplished all sorts of things, even if your contact with the subject matter was minor at best.

Perhaps the most well-known instance of this is the fall of Band of Brothers and the role the self-proclaimed “Solar Spymaster” (and all his “Sins”) The Mittani. For long the story has been presented as a magnum opus of spymastery on a scale only Hideo Kojima could have imagined forever immortalized in a comic book story. The main gist of it is that Mittens works with Haargoth, a BoB director turned traitor and dismantles Band of Brothers from within through critical targeting of sensitive information. This myth has perpetuated the illusion of an all knowing all powerful spy apparatus that we now know was greatly exaggerated. Mitten’s role in the fall of Band of Brothers had shifted away from this myth to basically having been in the room when it went down.

Eve Online is full of people of this caliber as World War Bee has shown. Every twenty man alliance and delusional spymaster came out of the woodwork claiming they started/invented/created the conditions for the war. On occasion, I’ve been subjected to the ramblings and ravings of these masterminds as they share incredibly complex schemes and plans in the hopes of netting themselves some gain. The problem is these types are much more widespread than the active diplomats in Eve, and so the latter group suffers because of the former. If you’re one of the “scheming mastermind” types, understand that unless your plan is simple, it’s most likely not going to work. Your job is not to make yourself better off but to enable your alliance to better itself. Ultimately as a diplomat, you serve not out of some sense of honor but rather function. Your success only matters if your alliance succeeds. Your self-interest is the interest of the alliance.

It can be a thankless job. Fleet commanders have battle reports, individual pilots have killboards, and logistics has doctrine ships up on contract. A diplomat’s metric for accomplishment can is usually hard to pin down. A project may even take months to accomplish. Sometimes you can have a lot to do while other times things are pretty bland. Recommending policy, playing devil’s advocate, and seeing ways to capitalize on your advantages are all part of the role. The important thing is to keep communication open between yourself and the leadership you work with. This depends on your agreement with your alliance exec/corp ceo but essentially your purpose is to observe a situation, analyze it, and consider how it can be improved. A lot of times people already have a level of distrust toward you because of the impression your work may give. It’s good to be open with them and put them at ease. The internal distrust that can ferment can be difficult and at times impossible to deal with despite your best intentions.

Sometimes an environment can simply be too toxic for you to work within. The best option in such situations is to realize you may not have a way forward and withdraw elsewhere. Insisting on your role can cause more harm than good, even if you bring forth good arguments. Although you may be analytic, much of human interaction is not based on fact but emotion. In the past, I myself had situations where I played a diplomatic role. Despite not having any actual roles certain individuals argued I wanted to “take over.” Perhaps others in my position would have wanted to do that except it would not have been viable less so for me considering being the “top guy” in an organization requires a lot more time and responsibility than I am interested in having. A lot of times people will be against you only because the idea presented did not come out of their mouth. That’s not to say that every idiot with a passing thought now needs to feel justified for being turned down. For every person with a good idea wrongfully denied there are fifty idiots with terrible ideas rightfully told to shut up.

Lastly, you must remain humble. You learn more listening than you do speaking, especially from your enemies even when you argue. When two people debate, often they both try to talk as much as possible as if trying to overwhelm their opponent with their perspective. It is better to let the other side talk as much as possible. The more they say, the more you have to work with. That’s not to say that your intentions should be malicious, but by hearing what the other side feels and wants, you can help provide the information you need to negotiate for the interests of your alliance.

~ Seraph IX Basarab