Friday, August 17, 2012

Interstellar Diplomatic Negotiations: Rulebook and Disclaimer

This story originated when I began to wonder what might be expected of an ambassador during the course of diplomatic negotiations.  Since the negotiations would inevitably impact a large number of people and the fate of a lot of territory, it seemed this could be a high pressure position.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this bit of speculative fun.  And feel free to let me know of any rules that you think would be appropriate for a rulebook like this.

Interstellar Diplomatic Negotiations: Rulebook and Disclaimer

The Terran Alliance expects a lot from its ambassadors.  You, as an ambassador, are the bridge that connects us to the rest of the universe.  This is a position that demands dedication and quick thinking.  Keep in mind, interstellar negotiations are comparable to juggling with bombs.  You must be quick and fearless to avoid the worst. 

A list of basic rules has been provided to help you, but bear in mind that you need to be prepared for anything. 
  1. Please refrain from engaging in personal relationships with other ambassadors.  During the course of intense negotiations, it would be in the best interests of the Terran Alliance if our ambassador were not debilitated by emotional attachments, or being blackmailed with incriminating photos.  The last time this became an issue, not only did we lose an entire planetary system in the botched negotiations, that ambassador also contracted a new form of STD that rendered certain body parts permanently useless.  Of course, he also passed it on to a few others before that happened.  Trust us when we say that it’s best to avoid these messy situations
  2. Ambassadors are to adhere to the dress code at all times.  The plain gray uniform may be dull, but it is also practical.  Each species we encounter has unique traditions, and they perceive ambassadorial attire as a representation of our species.  The mishap with the Bryndari delegation in 2471 gave the Terran Alliance a black eye.  It’s always embarrassing when a war that kills millions of civilians is mistakenly instigated by a paisley necktie.  Had the ambassador known the Bryndari considered paisley a sign of disrespect, he would have selected a different garment.  The strict uniform requirements seemed a reasonable way to avoid such misunderstandings in the future.
  3. Be sure to study your pre-contact report before engaging in diplomatic discussions.  These reports are made by the Alliance’s top intelligence people.  Make sure you can recite it word for word, because you never know when you may need a particular piece of information.  For example, the Tillani have what appears to be a second set of eyestalks located on their shoulders.  These, however, are not eyestalks, and looking at them could be taken as a mating proposal.  Making this mistake could (and did) complicate negotiations.  That ambassador was only able to complete the negotiations after a lengthy courtship and marriage ritual.  Then, afterwards, he had to resign his commission to live on the Tillani homeworld.  These mistakes are easy enough to avoid if you thoroughly study your materials prior to contact.
  4. If you should use your diplomatic privileges for personal advantage, that will be considered an act of treason.  One ambassador made the mistake of accepting gifts from the Denai in exchange for 100 Earth Alliance citizens, who were to be used for slave labor.  That too resulted in a war.  The ambassador was charged with treason and sentenced to death.  However, he was forced to fight on the frontlines when we went to retrieve our people.  He died in battle, which at least saved the Alliance the costs associated with executing him.  Unless you want that to be the story of how your career ends, you should refrain from accepting gifts from other ambassadors, no matter how good, or innocuous, the deal may seem.
  5. Now for the most important rule of all.  Never give away Earth, or its moon, in the negotiations, no matter what is offered in return.  This kind of error would result in a immediate termination, a charge if treason, and you will be expected to take up arms in any battle that might result.  As the cradle of human civilization, Earth is home to a large percentage of our population and is a symbol of who we are as a people.  Should we lose that in a negotiation, we would become the laughing stock of the galaxy.  We’ve already had enough mistakes over the course of Alliance history, but recovering from that error would be all but impossible.

Welcome to the Terran Alliance Ambassadorial team!  Given that you were drafted into our organization, you may be less than enthusiastic about your new duties.  However, you are required to demonstrate enthusiasm in public.  You are, after all, the face of the Terran Alliance.

We apologize that the draft has become necessary, but our number of volunteers has inexplicably plummeted in the last few years.  Please, try to make the best of your new career, and see this as an honor and an opportunity that most are not fortunate to have.

Best of luck!

We reserve the right to amend these rules at any time.  You will be held retroactively responsible for any infractions that only become such after new rules are passed.  This may seem unfair, but it ensures that our ambassadors think long and hard about the decisions they make.  You will also be expected to compensate the Alliance for any bribes you may offer to get what we want during negotiations.  This is not meant to discourage you from doing what you must to do your job effectively.  Since we’re in a recession, we need to be economically solvent.  This means underpaying you and sticking you with the bill.  This is a government operation, so you could hardly have expected anything different.


  1. Never give away earth! Brilliant rules :)

  2. Not to mention what food they might have to learn to cook, and how to present it.