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Statecraft and Foreign Policy From Machiavelli To Digital Diplomacy
It is a new world where Machiavellian’s vertical hierarchies have been complemented with horizontal webs and networks.
How would Machiavelli tackle digital diplomacy and social media? As we commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Renaissance philosopher’s celebrated The Prince, the structure of power in the 21st century has certainly changed. Global interconnectivity has forced governments to rethink their foreign policy priorities while at the same time acknowledge new players and engage with the world. It is a new world where Machiavellian’s vertical hierarchies have been complemented with horizontal webs and networks.
“The Prince is perfect in describing even the most current events in national and foreign policy,” said Gianni Riotta, author of Has the Web Brought us Freedom? at the panel discussion “Real-Time World, Real-Time Diplomacy: The Challenges Ahead,” organized by the Embassy of Italy in Washington DC as part of its Digital Diplomacy Series. “Social media and digital diplomacy are the only elements missing from his analysis,” Riotta continued highlighting how for the Machiavellian Prince it would be more difficult to rule in the 21st century as he’d be confronting and engaging with public opinion online.
Aside from Machiavelli’s morality of power and its views on how to exercise it, from the Renaissance to modern statecraft, one of the greatest revolutions have been the digital one. As technology and innovation are quickly transforming our daily life, our routine, and how we all interact with the world, foreign policy is now focusing on what comes next and how social media can impact statecraft itself, as well as the way governments talk to each other and to citizens, both at home and abroad.
“The digital era and the fast evolving mobile industry are having a deep effect on how companies conduct business, how people and customers interact, how the media industry is reshaping itself to better adjust to it,” said Italian Ambassador to the US Claudio Bisogniero. “Diplomacy has not been immune to these changes,” Ambassador Bisogniero added pointing out how governments are not abandoning traditional diplomacy but instead complementing it with real-time tools and innovative ideas.
According to P.J. Crowley, professor at the George Washington University and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, the challenge today involves the disconnect between traditional diplomacy – say as little as possible in public and as much as possible in private – and the bowing demands on public and digital diplomacy through two-way conversations rather than monologues.
“There is a growing gap between the two,” said Crowley stressing how digital diplomacy and the use of social media in foreign policy have to often face new challenges and the way secrecy has been affected by real-time tools. “The way information circulates on the Internet potentially eliminates what governments have relied on for the longest and that is plausible deniability,” Crowley explained. “What in traditional diplomacy has always occurred behind closed doors is now sipping out in to the open, making public diplomacy an increasingly important dimension of diplomacy. This presents a conundrum for policy as they now have to not only assess what the policy should be but also how the policy is going to be received by domestic audience and by target audiences around the world.”
Foreign policy is trying to adapt to this broader and more dynamic environment.
Innovation – rather than technology per se – is the key element in this new equation. Innovation is becoming part foreign policy DNA, often bettering the way governments communicate and interact at all levels. Because technology is opening new doors to governments and societies around the world – in a way democratizing the power structure – the goal should be to fully leverage networks, technologies, and demographics of an ever interconnected world.
“In a world of technology that enables pervasive, disruptive social change, the work of diplomats is to increase the speed at which government can respond to that change,” said Katie Dowd, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer at the White House. “We are doing that by leveraging new tools for public diplomacy, experimenting with new approaches to development partnerships, enhancing our focus and expertise on technology policy issues, and improving our internal practices and skill-building to meet these challenges.”
In this new landscape, capacity building becomes key in order to drive innovation and innovative ideas, both in foreign policy and in the private sector. This is where public and private need to work together and collaborate to nurture new assets and bring to bear shared challenges.
However, working on capacity building for future generations is not for governments alone. Everybody needs to be part of the process, including youth around the world, our future leaders.
In his first foreign policy address as U.S. Secretary of State in February 2013, John Kerry said that “For the first time in human history, young people around the world act as a global cohort […] they are more open-minded, and more proficient with the technology that keeps them connected in a way no generation has ever been before.” He stressed: “We need to help them use this remarkable network in a positive way.”
The U.S. Department of State is now working to help the emerging generation define their legacy and shape their future in a positive way, “a collective future,” in the words of Zeenat Rahman, Senior Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State for Global Youth Issues. The goal is to nurture highly motivated, talented, and civically engaged youth so that they can become a true engine for world economic growth and prosperity.
“Young people are creating innovative solutions to shared challenges such as health, climate change and economic development by pursuing studies and careers in science and technology,” Rahman said. “In past years, young people have worked to create mobile, web, and desktop applications to address climate, civil, and business challenges.”
* Andreas Sandre is a Press and Public Affairs Officer at the Embassy of Italy in Washington DC. He is the author of Twitter for Diplomats” (February 2013) and has contributed articles on foreign policy and digital diplomacy to numerous specialized publications, including the DiploFoundation, the Global Policy Journal, and BigThink. The views expressed are the author's only and do not necessarily reflect those of the Embassy of Italy. Find him on Twitter: @andreas212nyc
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.
- The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
- Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
- A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
Two strategic blunders<p>Now, historians and mathematicians from York St. John University have collaborated to produce <a href="http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~nm15/bootstrapBoB%20AAMS.docx" target="_blank">a statistical model (docx download)</a> capable of calculating what the likely outcomes of the Battle of Britain would have been had the circumstances been different. </p><p>Would the German war effort have fared better had they not bombed Britain at all? What if Hitler had begun his bombing campaign earlier, even by just a few weeks? What if they had focused their targets on RAF airfields for the entire course of the battle? Using a statistical technique called weighted bootstrapping, the researchers studied these and other alternatives.</p><p>"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said co-author Dr. Jaime Wood in a <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/mathematicians-battle-britain-what-if-scenarios/" target="_blank">statement</a>. Based on the different strategic decisions that the German forces could have made, the researchers' model enabled them to predict the likelihood that the events of a given day of fighting would or would not occur.</p><p>"The Luftwaffe would only have been able to make the necessary bases in France available to launch an air attack on Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign brings forward the air campaign by three weeks," continued Wood. "We tested the impact of this and the other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days."</p><p>Ultimately, two strategic tweaks shifted the odds significantly towards the Germans' favor. Had the German forces started their campaign earlier in the year and had they consistently targeted RAF airfields, an Allied victory would have been extremely unlikely.</p><p>Say the odds of a British victory in the real-world Battle of Britain stood at 50-50 (there's no real way of knowing what the actual odds are, so we'll just have to select an arbitrary figure). If this were the case, changing the start date of the campaign and focusing only on airfields would have reduced British chances at victory to just 10 percent. Even if a British victory stood at 98 percent, these changes would have cut them down to just 34 percent.</p>
A tool for understanding history<p>This technique, said co-author Niall Mackay, "demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were. Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."</p><p>The researchers also claimed that their technique could be applied to other uncertain historical events. "Weighted bootstrapping can provide a natural and intuitive tool for historians to investigate unrealized possibilities, informing historical controversies and debates," said Mackay.</p><p>Using this technique, researchers can evaluate other what-ifs and gain insight into how differently influential events could have turned out if only the slightest things had changed. For now, at least, we can all be thankful that Hitler underestimated Britain's grit.</p>
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.
Arrows on this map show position and velocity data for the 224 objects utilized to model the Milky Way Galaxy. The solid black lines point to the positions of the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Colors reflect groups of objects that are part of the same arm, while the background is a simulation image.
Apple sold its first iPod in 2001, and six years later it introduced the iPhone, which ushered in a new era of personal technology.