In a victory for diplomacy, world leaders announced early Sunday that a deal had been struck with Iran over its disputed nuclear program. In what U.S. President Barack Obama called an "important first step" toward addressing the world's concerns over Iran’s motivations and actions and opening a path out of a three-decade long standoff, the deal will curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions away from a bomb and toward a civilian capability, in exchange for limited relief—for now—from strict sanctions that have devastated the Iranian economy.
The Diplomatic Courier sat down with Thierry de Montbrial to discuss the ongoing negotiations with Iran, the impact of any deal on their nuclear program, and U.S. strategy in the Middle East. Mr. de Montbrial is a French economics and international relations specialist, President of the French Institute for International Relations, and the founder of the World Policy Conference.
September 2013 saw some of the worst violence in Iraq since the civil unrest of 2007 and 2008. Two years after international forces withdrew from the country, Iraq has struggled to stand on its own two feet.
For several months, the dominant national rhetoric surrounding up-and-coming youth in the U.S. was one of disappointment, focusing on a storyline of Millennials as self absorbed, attention deficit, and oblivious to global issues of international and domestic importance. After Time magazine’s cover story generalizing “The Me, Me, Me Generation”, thousands of quietly organizing Millennials found opportunity to further propel their mission to bring about a change in the very foundation of traditional “political gridlock and inaction” to the forefront of academic and political discussion, quite rapidly turning the discourse on its head. Their retorts found support in spheres archetypal of older generations, mainly polling bodies and research institutions with agendas progressive enough to ask the Millennials face to face about their values and plans to “change the way we see the world” at home and abroad.
As the only non-governmental official overseer of the APEC CEO Summit’s operating process, Pacific Economic Cooperation Council co-chair Jusuf Wanandi is forewarning of a “dilemma” at this year’s meeting in Bali stemming from debates over competing regional trade agreements, mainly those surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
A phone call between President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani? Talk about 20th century!
The Millennial Generation came of age after the Cold War ended in 1991. The demise of the Soviet Union concluded more than four decades of two countries undermining one another’s geopolitical objectives, often by turning nations and rival groups within nations against one another the world-over. But, as Millennials entered adulthood, our experiences were not colored by an adversarial relationship between two rival countries actively promoting feelings of international mistrust. Instead, our generation was allowed to come of age during a period of relative peace compared to the Cold War and the World Wars on the first half of the 20th century.
Twitter’s explosive growth as a tool in new media has outpaced our cultural understanding of its power to incite impassioned discussions that actually lead to change. In 2011 we saw its capacity to connect and organize people across and within nations, aiding those on the leading edge of the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Most recently it has evoked intense condemnation from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who blames Twitter as “the worst menace to society” for the current protests in Istanbul and Ankara.
Walk the streets of any big city today, anywhere in the world, and it is impossible to miss the impact of digital communication technology on nearly every aspect of our daily lives. It impacts the way we communicate, socialize, travel, are entertained, buy products and services, and even find our life partners. But, what about diplomacy, that famously nuanced, human talent that is so deeply rooted in a face-to-face, personal connection? How has digital changed the diplomacy game?
Forty-three percent of the world’s population is currently under 25—and the number of young people is rising fastest in the developing world. Today’s youth are more connected and tuned in to the world than any generation before. Youth see the challenges before them in fresh ways and are responding with enthusiasm and imagination, and have maximized cultural exchange, social media, video, and journalistic platforms for outreach and advocacy.
Citizen diplomacy provides a unique opportunity for young people who often feel marginalized by decision-makers, allowing them to have a voice and forge lasting relationships with a diverse community of civic actors. Critics argue that citizen diplomats support a very narrow issue area, and have a difficult time articulating a broader catalogue of strategic foreign policy priorities. This has created tension and debate within the diplomatic community about the role of citizens in the space. But young people especially tend to be much more in tune with a broader landscape, and connect with the world in different ways. Especially in relations between developed and developing countries, the focus for young citizen diplomats has shifted from a primarily humanitarian mandate to include doing business, e-commerce, skills transfer, and sharing of solutions in sectors including health and agriculture.
Editor's Note: When our July/August edition—and this article—went to print, the situation in Egypt was remarkably calmer. President Morsi was still in office; the Muslim Brotherhood was still the democratically-elected ruling party in Egypt's government. There was little indication that events would unfold as dramatically as they have in the past few weeks. However, whomever becomes the controlling power in Egypt now, it is clear that social media will continue to play a vital role in the future relationship between Egypt and the United States. It is worth noting that since the beginning of the most recent cycle of protests in Egypt, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo’s Twitter account has sent out little but official statements, notices of Embassy closures, and a message containing an emergency phone line for American citizens in Egypt.
The internet is making it more difficult to “control, alternate, and delete” U.S. foreign policy.
In April, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo shut down its Twitter feed for a short period before reactivating it hours later. The move followed a controversial tweet (now deleted) that linked to a clip from Jon Stewart’s Daily Show on Bassem Youssef, an Egyptian satirist who was arrested by the Egyptian government on charges of insulting Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Islam.
The spat reached a tipping point when the Egyptian president’s official Twitter feed responded through what the Twitter-verse refers to as a “subtweet,” or subliminal tweet that does not directly reference the original poster. “It’s inappropriate for a diplomatic mission to engage in such negative political propaganda,” the tweet read.
The subsequent deletion was just one bizarre incident in an already bizarre story.
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