The phrase “international affairs” has always seemed to carry a whiff of pomposity. For many, it evokes nineteenth century conferences held in ancient palaces and tuxedoed men with canes. Crumbling embassies have since replaced those palaces, yet the term still manages to muster a sense of grandeur and gravitas, which is one reason we like it so much in today’s celebrity-obsessed world.
Still, there is much more to international affairs than old men with maps and glasses of calvados (or their modern equivalent–politicians in running shorts). Financial markets, international organizations, and NGOs are now firmly a part of the international affairs canon. Film, media, technology-all topics covered in this issue-are about to join them. Everyone knows that technology is changing the way people do business; this issue’s Forum applies that dynamic to diplomacy. For all its promise and peril, technology will take the world from evolution to revolution only if it can transform how people think about their relationship to international events, and only if it serves as a gateway of inclusion for millions of impoverished individuals the world over. Whether it empowers the best of human nature or exploits the worst remains to be seen.
In so many ways diplomacy in the digital age is the same as that of the old world. There are still foes to deter, conflicts to mediate, peace to enforce, and sleepy publics to resuscitate. But in order for foreign affairs to regain the sense of purpose it once had, it must move away from outdated orthodoxies and reflect a more nuanced picture of the world in all its awesome complexity, blurring integration, lurking danger, and technological revolution. This makes for a more complicated world, but also for better reading.
– Ben Powell & Stephanie Kaplan
Forum: Wired Aff@irs
- The Babe That Roared by Charles Weiss | Read
The information revolution is still in its infancy-but what an infant. Already, it has set new limits on traditional notions of sovereignty, given rise to new forms of warfare, forced businesses to rethink their basic function and strategy, spawned new firms that dwarf older industrial giants, and created a whole new agenda of international policy issues. And that’s for openers.
- The New World Information and Communication Order by John Walcott | Read
- From U2 to URL: Technology and Foreign Affairs by Richard M. Moose | Read
- Development Goes Digital Interview with Carlos Braga | Read
- The Promise and Challenge of E-Commerce by Patricia Buckley & Sabrina Montes | Read
- Virtual Activism: Survivors in the Landmine Treaty by Kenneth R. Rutherford | Read
Conflict & Security
- Modern Humanitarianism: Rethinking Neutrality by Mark Batrolini | Read
Taking sides may be a better way to respond to today’s complex emergencies.
- Undeterred: The Return of Nuclear War by Stephen Blank | Read
If you think that the nuclear threat dissolved along with the Soviet Union, think again.
Culture & Society
- Screening Politics: Cinema and Intervention by Frank Stern | Read
Important films are valued not by box office receipts, but by how they define-and drive-reality. A “reel” history.
- Seattle South: Mexico’s New Radicalism by Mark Stevenson | Read
A ten-month strike at Latin America’s largest university may be a sign of things to come.
Business & Finance
- The IMF We Need by Michael Camdessus | Read
The IMF’s former managing director provides his vision of the Fund’s future.
Post-Seattle straight-talk from Thomas Friedman on globalization.
Law & Ethics
- Cloak and Dagger Diplomacy: The United States and Assassination by Mark Vincent Vlasic | Read
The history, legality, and philosophic nuances of the world’s second oldest profession.
- Privatizing Culture by Matt Jackson | Read
The real threat to free speech is not media mega-mergers but the growing power of copyright.
Politics & Diplomacy
- Democratic Reversals by Marina Ottaway | Read
The international community seems to favor policy outcomes over political process. This is no way to spread democracy.
- Toward a Global Migration Regime by Susan Martin | Read
Refugees and immigrants are on the rise, and governments don’t know how to cope. A case for agiobal migration regime.
Kenneth Allard reviews Michael O’Hanlon’s Technological Change and the Future of Warfare.
Andres Rigo reviews Rumu Sarkar’s Development Law and International Finance.
S. Rob Sobhani reviews Meyer and Brysac’s Tournament of Shadows.
View from the Ground
A Tamil student reflects on Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war.
A Look Back
- South Asia Goes to Washington by Howard Schaffer |Read
What happened when an avalanche of South Asian rulers descended upon the Reagan administration? A tale of American diplomacy.