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Current Topic: International Relations

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
Topic: International Relations 11:40 pm EST, Jan 10, 2006

Esther Dyson, editor of CNET Networks' technology newsletter, writes in "Anonymity," that there is information about everyone everywhere, and that though people think they want anonymity, they are actually trading it for recognition and a voice.

Esther says reputation and anonymity are mutually exclusive.

Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig sees, in "The Public Domain," the area unregulated by copyright rules where creative work is developed and spread, being swallowed by the private domain as "the cultivation of culture and creativity" will be dictated by "those who claim to own it."

Richard N. Haass, Council of Foreign Relations president, writes in "Sovereignty" that nation-states will not disappear but sovereignty "will no longer be sanctuary" and will fall victim to the "flow of people, ideas, greenhouse gases, goods, dollars, drugs, viruses, e-mails and weapons within and across borders."

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Nation-Building : Beyond Afghanistan and Iraq
Topic: International Relations 11:19 pm EST, Jan 10, 2006

Fukuyama is the editor of a new book.

Bestselling author Francis Fukuyama brings together esteemed academics, political analysts, and practitioners to reflect on the U.S. experience with nation-building, from its historical underpinnings to its modern-day consequences. The United States has sought on repeated occasions to reconstruct states damaged by conflict, from Reconstruction in the South after the Civil War to Japan and Germany after World War II, to the ongoing rebuilding of Iraq. Despite this rich experience, there has been remarkably little systematic effort to learn lessons on how outside powers can assist in the building of strong and self-sufficient states in post-conflict situations.

The contributors dissect mistakes, false starts, and lessons learned from the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq within the broader context of reconstruction efforts in other parts of the world, including Latin America, Japan, and the Balkans. Examining the contrasting models in Afghanistan and Iraq, they highlight the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq as a cautionary example of inadequate planning.

The need for post-conflict reconstruction will not cease with the end of the Afghanistan and Iraq missions. This timely volume offers the critical reflection and evaluation necessary to avoid repeating costly mistakes in the future.

Contributors: Larry Diamond, Hoover Institution and Stanford University; James Dobbins, RAND; David Ekbladh, American University; Michele A. Flournoy, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Francis Fukuyama, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; Larry P. Goodson, U.S. Army War College; Johanna Mendelson Forman, UN Foundation; Minxin Pei, Samia Amin, and Seth Garz, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; S. Frederick Starr, Central Asia--Caucacus Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; F. X. Sutton, Ford Foundation Emeritus; Marvin G. Weinbaum, University of Illinois at Urbana--Champaign

Nation-Building : Beyond Afghanistan and Iraq

Tom Friedman on Foreign Exchange, with Fareed Zakaria
Topic: International Relations 11:16 pm EST, Jan 10, 2006

Fareed Zakaria has his own TV show. This week he sits down with Tom Friedman. You can stream the show.

With 2005 in the past, we now look forward to the new year. Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, joins us for a full show. We hear his thoughts on globalization, the Iraq War, and 2006.

Tom Friedman on Foreign Exchange, with Fareed Zakaria

Francis Fukuyama: The acceptable face of the neo-cons? | Al-Ahram Weekly | Profile
Topic: International Relations 9:33 am EDT, Sep 19, 2005

What does Fukuyama now think of America's Iraq adventure, and of claims that Iraq could somehow provide an alternative model for Arab states which, believe the neo-conservatives, have somehow become stuck in history?

He holds out hope that Arab governments can improve without becoming fully democratic. As an example, he points to Singapore, which he says is "relatively corrupt" but still manages to govern well.

"Without a change on the level of ideas, any reconciliation of Islam and democracy is not going to come about.

Unless you fight out that battle on the plain of ideas and say it is perfectly legitimate to have a more liberal version of religion, then I think ultimately you will have long-term problems having genuine democracy in a Muslim country.

We should not minimise the fact that there is a conflict of ideas at the present, not with Islam as a religion but with particular interpretations of Islam."

Francis Fukuyama: The acceptable face of the neo-cons? | Al-Ahram Weekly | Profile

Topic: International Relations 10:39 am EDT, Sep 11, 2005

This year, the phrase that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been putting forward is transformational diplomacy, presumably as opposed to the foreign policy that fails to transform hostile, tyrannical regimes into democracies.

The meme (myth?) of transformation is alive and well:

"We need every nickel, we need every innovation, every good idea to strengthen and transform our military. A new idea overlooked might well be the next threat overlooked. If we do not fix what is broken and encourage what is good and what works, if we do not transform, our enemies surely will find new ways to attack us." -- Donald Rumsfeld

Need a primer? Try this:

Transformation is foremost a continuing process. It does not have an end point.

Transformation is meant to create or anticipate the future.

Transformation is meant to deal with the co-evolution of concepts, processes, organizations and technology. Change in any one of these areas necessitates change in all.

Transformation is meant to create new competitive areas and new competencies.

Transformation is meant to identify, leverage and even create new underlying principles for the way things are done.

Transformation is meant to identify and leverage new sources of power.

Clear now? (Did I mention leverage?)


How to Win in Iraq
Topic: International Relations 8:51 am EDT, Aug 29, 2005

Andrew Krepinevich would like you to set up MemeStreams in Iraq. Can you work that into your schedule this week? The Iraqis would really appreciate it.

Because they lack a coherent strategy, U.S. forces in Iraq have failed to defeat the insurgency or improve security. Winning will require a new approach to counterinsurgency, one that focuses on providing security to Iraqis rather than hunting down insurgents. And it will take at least a decade.

It will require a good understanding of Iraqi tribal politics. In many areas of Iraq, the tribe and the extended family are the foundation of society, and they represent a sort of alternative to the government. There are roughly 150 tribes in Iraq of varying size and influence, and at least 75 percent of Iraqis are members of a tribe. Creating a coalition out of these groups would require systematically mapping tribal structures, loyalties, and blood feuds within and among tribal groups; identifying unresolved feuds; detecting the political inclinations of dominant tribes and their sources of power and legitimacy; and determining their ties to tribes in other countries, particularly in Iran, Syria, and Turkey.

Accurate tribal mapping could guide the formation of alliances between the new Iraqi government and certain tribes and families, improve the vetting of military recruits and civil servants, and enhance intelligence sources on the insurgency's organization and infrastructure.

On second thought, maybe we'll just use MySpace instead.

How to Win in Iraq

The Biology of Conflict [PDF]
Topic: International Relations 2:07 am EDT, Jun 23, 2005

This paper by Steven Huybrechts won the National Defense University President's Award for Excellence in Writing in 2004. It's an interesting fusion of influences, many of which may be familiar to the MemeStreams community.

In a sentence, the basic message is that human genetics precludes world government.

Perhaps the best way to encourage you to read the paper is to highlight some of the footnotes.

Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, 1976.
Plato: "only the dead have seen the end of war."
Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors
The National Security Strategy of the United States
The Dialectical Logic of Thucydides' Melian Dialogue (JSTOR subscription required)
Samantha Power, A Problem From Hell (New York: Perennial, 2003).
Robert Upshall, Antibiotic Resistance (United Kingdom: Whinfield, May 1998).
Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. (article), (chapter 1).
Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees
Robert Kagan, America's Crisis of Legitimacy, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2004, 65-87.
Sisterhood is hungry: An egalitarian society of ants, The Economist, 23 August 1997
Joseph Nye, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (New York: Public Affairs, 2004).
Alison George, "March of the Superbugs," New Scientist, 19 July 2003, S1.
Robert D. Kaplan, The Coming Anarchy, The Atlantic Monthly, February 1994.
Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology (Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1986).
Errol Morris, The Fog of War. Sony Pictures Classics, 2003.
Joshua Blu Buhs, The Fire Ant Wars, 2004.
Natalie Angier, "Is War Our Biological Destiny?" New York Times, 11 November 2003.

The Biology of Conflict [PDF]

Regime Change and Its Limits
Topic: International Relations 10:53 pm EDT, Jun 21, 2005

In this article for the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs, Richard Haass, author of The Opportunity, argues that the US should change course in its approach to North Korea and Iran.

A foreign policy that chooses to integrate, not isolate, despotic regimes can be the Trojan horse that moderates their behavior in the short run and their nature in the long run. It is time Washington put this thinking to the test, toward what remains of the axis of evil. Delay is no longer an option, and drift is not a strategy.

Haass also talked about his new book in an interview with Fareed Zakaria on May 31. (The interview is also available as an MP3.)

Haass's argument here works in concert with a recent essay by Robert McNamara, who argues that "It is time -- well past time, in my view -- for the United States to cease its Cold War-style reliance on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy tool."

Zakaria has picked up Haass's meme. In his Newsweek column for June 27, "How To Change Ugly Regimes", he compares and contrasts the US approach to Iran, Libya, Cuba, Vietnam, China, and more. Zakaria writes:

What about Mao's China at the height of the Cultural Revolution? Nixon and Kissinger opened relations with what was arguably the most brutal regime in the world at the time. And as a consequence of that opening, China today is far more free -- economically and socially -- than it has ever been. If we were trying to help the Chinese people, would isolation have been a better policy?

Today's lesson is:

It's the memes, stupid.

Regime Change and Its Limits

The Opportunity
Topic: International Relations 7:56 pm EDT, Jun 16, 2005

Read from the first chapter of The Opportunity. "Real World Order" is the New York Times review of the book.

It is a question of "when" and not "if" the United States will suffer from another major act of terrorism, possibly one involving a weapon of mass destruction.

With the possible exception of ten days in October 1962 when the United States and the Soviet Union nearly came to war over the introduction of Soviet missiles into Cuba, Americans and their country have never felt more insecure.

Have you read Apocalypse Soon, by Robert McNamara, in the latest issue of Foreign Policy? (I know a few of you have.)

Despite difficulties, this is a moment of rare opportunity for the United States and for the world. The United States, working with the governments of the other major powers, can still shape the course of the twenty-first century and bring about a world that is to a striking degree characterized by peace, prosperity, and freedom for most of the globe’s countries and peoples. Opportunity, though, is just that.

It could be a long boom. Or it could turn out to be an era of gradual decay, an incipient modern Dark Ages.

The Long Boom: A History of the Future, 1980 - 2020
From Dawn To Decadence, by Jacques Barzun

The 2002 National Security Strategy stated: "Today, the international community has the best chance since the rise of the nation-state in the seventeenth century to build a world where great powers compete in peace instead of continually prepare for war." It is difficult to exaggerate the significance of this development.

The End Of History?, by Francis Fukuyama

And now for a brief diversion:
Countdown to a Meltdown (excerpt)

In a new article in the Atlantic Monthly magazine, writer James Fallows examines America's economic strength and stability from the vantage point of the year 2016.

Back to Haass:

Worldwide drug trafficking meets and fuels American demand (and is indirectly responsible for a significant portion of our crime).

Do you read about The Lure of Opium Wealth?

... [ Read More (0.4k in body) ]

Network Diplomacy
Topic: International Relations 9:51 am EDT, Jun 13, 2005

Globalization and the information revolution are creating new community relationships that build upon, democratize, and magnify existing social frameworks.

The network allows ideas to compete and confers a competitive advantage on those most able to share, trade, and receive the most relevant information.

State Department officials may look gleefully at other foreign ministries and note that the United States is far ahead of its perceived counterparts in responding to globalization and the information revolution. These officials, however, do not recognize that competition is not coming from other states, but from other forms of organization altogether.

Power today is as much about promoting ideas and norms of behavior as it is about projecting military might.

By disaggregating the state foreign policy function into its component parts, it is possible to identify where greater integration into networks is feasible and desirable, and where the hierarchical structures of accountability can and should remain intact.

The very term "foreign policy" attempts to differentiate between "domestic" and "foreign" in ways that make less sense in a globalized network environment. Foreign policy is not foreign. It is global -- both domestic and foreign simultaneously.

The primary impediment to networked engagement is the culture of insularity and secrecy that pervades US foreign policy institutions.

Accountability should not be purchased at the cost of ignorance.

Understanding control as the ability to influence values and standards in a decentralized system, not as the need to maintain absolute authority over every component of the policy process, will pose a fundamental challenge to governments. The networked global environment of the information revolution, however, not only distributes control, but also punishes those who attempt to hoard information and rewards those who share it. In the Information Age, you have to give up control in order to get it back, but it returns in a different form. Old control was about hierarchy, monopoly, and aggregation. New control is about flexibility, decentralization, and networked specialization.

Open dialogue and the sharing of ideas should be goals in themselves. The United States must support and facilitate such dialogue, even when it is critical of the United States.

Conscious efforts must be made to shift government institutional culture from a focus on secrecy, information hoarding, and hierarchy to a system of openness, innovation, and information sharing.

Governments must change the way they do business to make their best voices heard in a networked world.

Network Diplomacy

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