Does “Old” Diplomacy Work in the new world?
Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype these are the new “normal” ways to communicate to one another these days. The way communication and news is spread is changing faster than any of us can image. The power of this new media has had ripple effects across the world from China having to censor a lot of information to the Arab Spring where technology was used to start the uprising to using technology to help win elections like they have in the US and India. With the world landscape changing and turning should the way diplomacy also change and reform to reflect the times. Does there need to be a face to face discussions or can it be down through Skype?
The Old Style DIplomacy is very much state centric. It is worked through its foreign office or development offices. There work varies but a lot of there major work is on the so called track one diplomacy in where communications and interactions are done between governments mostly. Many would argue that this is a very important tool to do face to face. You can work out a lot of the emotions and feel that a skype call would be unable to do, it provides that critical face to face time where a relationship can be worked on which in many situations is critical for a deal to be struck. Throughout time this has been seen to be the best method of negotiation and we can point to examples such as the end of the Soviet Union and the relationship between Gorbachev and Reagan or the Good Friday Peace Agreement or more recently the nuclear deal between the P5 plus Germany and Iran. In each situation the need for track one diplomacy was critical to broker many of these agreements.
But in this new world we are seeing new trends occurring. The obvious example is the Arab Spring where millions of people across the Middle East and parts of Africa rose up to overthrow there governments. During this period the changing nature of events were occurring at a rapid rate the protesters were organised through social media such as facebook and twitter and also much of the news coming from both sides coming through social media. There was no time for negotiations and face to face meetings to occur. Also we can argue that these secret meetings that happen between governments are becoming harder to remain confidential. We have see,n over the past fews years many high profile hacking cases, the leeks of many confidential files by Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. This could be argued that the old style of diplomacy is under threat and some say outdated as there is no such thing as private meetings and the new style of open diplomacy should be embraced.
That being said the nature of many of these negotiations are no longer simplified to states vs states.We are seeing a big rise in the track two diplomacy. This is where non state actors play a much bigger role. This could range from having Non-governmental organisations involved to pressure groups to other individuals. A good example of this is the climate negotiations where there are states involved, pressure groups, businesses and other important people brought together to try and reach an agreement. This type of type two diplomacy is becoming a more influential and more important as we are in this globalised world where the state, in most situations, are not the only actor.
Many argue that old diplomacy is needed just as much today as it did in the past. If we look more closely at the Arab Spring again we can argue there has been changes to many of the governments but we can also argue that the region in the Middle East in more unstable then it ever has been. Governments are unstable in many of these nations, in Egypt a full 360 degree process happened where Egypt have another military dictator and the rise of IS (ISIS) have been able to grow and become a threat in many of the unstable countries in the Middle East.
In Conclusion, I believe that old diplomacy does have a place in the new world. A lot of changes are occurring and situations are becoming more complex however, the state is still the most important body. It has all the tools, expertise and knowledge to deal with many of these situations. But, this isnt to count out the new styles of diplomacy. There are definite merits and in fast changing situations can be very useful to use. Also can be used a lot in the type two diplomacy and if the right balance is able to be achieved then the new world can incorporate new technologies to help diplomacy flourish.
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