The recent revival of interest in the English School has emphasised the historical and, hence, impermanent and incomplete character of international societies. Its focus has been upon the circumstances in which specific societies come into being, flourish and fade, with a view to making better sense of what is happening in and to the contemporary international society of states. Recent commentary, however, has noted both the insistence of the first generation of the English School upon the importance of diplomacy and its failure to develop any significant empirical work upon this insight. This case study of Mullah Zaeef and the Taliban embassy in Islamabad in the two years before the Afghan war seeks to rectify that shortcoming by providing an analysis of diplomatic activity in a context where there is little intersubjective understanding of both what an international society is or ought to be and the elements of the diplomatic culture which helps sustain it. It argues that while war was not averted, the episode provides grounds for modest optimism about the possibility of surmounting the obstacles to resolving conflicts of this kind in the future.