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It truly was an extraordinary career. Mr. Negroponte promoted the humble virtues of diplomacy against more grandiose visions. Mr. Liebmann writes that Mr. Negroponte “was mindful of the effect of excessive militarization of foreign policy in 20th century Germany and Japan, which contrasted with Britain’s success in maintaining worldwide influence with an historically small standing army — an influence resting on good intelligence and training, local knowledge and the willingness to limit objectives, exercise indirect control, and cut losses.” This is a lesson that should be heeded in Washington today.

Diplomats still matter, as John Negroponte’s career well illustrates.

Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, is author of “Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire” (Xulon, 2006).