The nuclear diplomacy has become one of the most crucial issues of the modern international relations.
Accordingly to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the total number of the nuclear warheads in the world today is estimated to be over 20 million. More than half of this amount belongs to the Russian Armed Forces, then goes USA, and the remaining percentage is made up by other nuclear states.
The “mutually guaranteed security” of the United States of America
The US nuclear strategy is most precisely formulated by a doctrine of “mutually guaranteed safety” by the Minister of Defense W. Perry during World War Two. Until now it has not lost its significance for the American military ideology. And it means that the United States is still holding firmly the memories about the bipolar epoch even though the nature of the U.S. nuclear threats radically changed. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the annulment of the Warsaw Pact have sharply reduced the chance not only of the global nuclear confrontation, but even of the large-scale regional wars. Nevertheless, the Russian remaining nuclear capabilities continue to evoke fear of the American national security. In reality, the concept of the “mutual assured security” became a national program called “Cooperative Threat Reduction from the former Soviet Union”, which is also known as the Nunn-Lugar plan financed from the budget of the American Ministry of Defense. The program was intended to assist the former USSR republics in the rapid and secure nuclear disarmament. William Perry stated: “there is no better opportunity to spend funds predestined for the national security than to help the destruction of the nuclear weapons and nuclear industry of the former enemy … This is also defense, however, by other means.” By the beginning of 1995 the Nunn-Lugar initiative allocated around 900 million US dollars on the implementation of the disarmament programs.
The U.S. modern nuclear strategy consists of two chief principles. First of all, it has to “convince” the rest of the world of its power, which is achieved by maintaining a high level of the combat readiness of the strategic offensive forces. Secondly, it must create the state of the greatest uncertainty about the Washington’s possible reaction to a nuclear threat emanating from its opponent. That is why the U.S. authorities refuse to make a commitment not to use nuclear weapons first, in contrast to other nuclear countries. At the same time, the United States is an active party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The American administration promotes persistently a program on the combat against the weapons of mass destruction fixing it as a priority for their own diplomatic, economic and military purposes. The Ministry of Defense is entitled to develop a complex of purely military measures to prevent the proliferation of WMD on the international level. Some specific tasks are assigned to the intelligence services that can easily obtain the updated information about the possible development and the production of weapons of mass destruction in any part of the world.
Thus, the revision of the nuclear policy of the Pentagon at the end of the “cold war,” in fact, did not bring about any radical changes for the U.S. nuclear strategy. The “nuclear deterrence” still remains the cornerstone of the national security of the United States.
Russian nuclear ambitions non-stop
The modern Russian military doctrine states that “The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are in constant readiness as well as other troops to deter and prevent an armed conflict in accordance with international law and international treaties of the Russian Federation … The prevention of the nuclear armed conflict, as well as any other military conflict is the most important task of the Russian Federation“.
The use of the nuclear weapons is defined in the following terms: “The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to an attack aimed at it, and (or) its allies with the nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation with the conventional weapons when under threat”.
In the statistical numbers the dimension of the Russian nuclear arsenal is inferior only to the American. During the nuclear talks Russia tends to defend the position of the U.S. missile defense system in the Eastern Europe. When the United States announced the suspension of the deployment of a missile defense system in the Eastern Europe, Russia declared that it “would steadily move towards the verifiable and irreversible reductions in the nuclear weapons.” However, Moscow aims at the preservation of the balance of the strategic offensive arms between Russia and the United States, and thus, exercising a strict control over the export of the nuclear materials and technology, promoting the denuclearization of the post-Soviet space, and improving the existing international nuclear non-proliferation documentary basis.
“The sub-strategic strike” of the United Kingdom
In its nuclear policy the UK adheres to the principle of the minimum nuclear deterrence for selective use of nuclear weapons in the framework of the so-called sub-strategic mission. In the lexicon of the British military and political leadership there even exist the special concept of “sub-strategic impact”, which means that the “sub-strategic strike is limited to the extremely selective use of the nuclear weapons. This gives a strategic blow, and on the level of its capacity it is sufficient to reassure the aggressor to afflict a strike upon UK, which should stop even the thought about the aggression, otherwise the aggressor risks facing a devastating nuclear attack”. That is to say the Russia’s nuclear forces are designed for nuclear retaliation as retaliation for a nuclear attack on Russia and the opponent (or) its allies.
With the reduction in the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, Great Britain pledged to “develop and implement” a future agreement on the reduction of the nuclear weapons and nuclear forces to maintain it at a minimum level. To prevent the terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons and to avoid the risk of contagion Britain called upon the nuclear powers to achieve a “global compromise”. In accordance to this plan, all non-nuclear states are ought to guarantee not to develop nuclear weapons under any circumstances. In return Britain is ready to provide those countries with the access to peaceful nuclear technology.
French balanced containment
Since DeGaulle`s times France has been in favor of maintaining its nuclear forces at a minimum, but duly supervised level of the vigilance. In the field of promotion of the international nuclear non-proliferation, the French government has made significant proposals to the United Nations, calling upon all countries to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to begin the negotiations on an international treaty banning the production of fissile material without extension preconditions as soon as possible.
The Chinese philosophy and nuclear weapons are incompatible
China is the only great power, which has a commitment the official level not to use the nuclear weapons first, without any reservations.
All throughout its history, the military-political leadership of China has been realizing its necessities of a huge country, such as the possession of the highly drilled and fully equipped with modern weapons, including nuclear, armed forces. Therefore, the official Chinese doctrine is interpreted as mainly a political and propagandistic tool and it does not show the real operational planning of the strategic nuclear forces, which are in fact aimed at a pre-emptive strike. The Chinese first nuclear program, adopted in 1951, had purely peaceful purposes. However, afterwards it was supplemented by a secret amendment allowing the creation of its own nuclear weapons. China took the path of the preferential production of the nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and land-based aircraft bombs. Nowadays it is no secret that China has got both strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons.
The Chinese tactical nuclear forces include: strategic missile forces (CDR), the strategic air (SA) and the nuclear missile fleet. On January 1 2007 the total number of the nuclear weapons of strategic purpose counted 244 units.
In comparison with other nuclear states, the Chinese nuclear forces have low combat readiness. The reason for this is the technical imperfection of the Chinese nuclear missile potential. Besides this, the nuclear weapons, as a weapon of war, are considered as the extreme last step by the Chinese defense policy. This willing killing is in direct contradiction with the Chinese philosophy of war and victory. Therefore, the Chinese philosophy of war and the use of nuclear weapons are incompatible. Furthermore, the use of the weapons of mass destruction is completely meaningless for China. As the population of China is one of the biggest in accordance to other world military powers, which already gives it an overwhelming advantage over the other countries in the world. The use of the weapons of mass destruction may be beneficial to any other party to the conflict, much is inferior to the population of China. For Beijing, the initiative in the use of weapons of mass destruction means depriving its population of one of the main advantages that they already own.
Indian “strategy of regional deterrence”
If the India declares that it does not intend to use its nuclear power, why, then, wouldn`t New Delhi abandon it? The truth is that even the fact of the possession of the nuclear-country status can have its strategic benefits. The Indian “peaceful atom” means:
– Control over the U.S. influence in the Indian Ocean. India sees itself as a regional power in the Indian Ocean becoming more and more suspicious towards the naval presence of other powers there. The fact that India’s nuclear weapons intend to deprive the U.S. of any possibility to exercise pressure upon India in the ocean space, even if it will worsen the US-Indian relations.
– Another means to deter Pakistan. Numerous collisions in the diplomatic Indo-Pakistani relations still exist on the general background of the religious intolerance, which in turn adds fuel to the mutual hatred leaving no room for compromise. If Pakistan is decisive to possess nuclear weapons, then India will move in the same direction.
– A strategy to contain China. The test of the China’s atomic bomb in 1964 became another blow to the Indian security. In November of the same year, the Indian Prime said that his country would consider the possibility of testing of nuclear devices for peaceful purposes. Still the Indian military believes that the Indian nuclear weapons are the most effective deterrent against China and Pakistan.
– Great-power prestige, which would help New Delhi to take place in the UN Security Council. It is for this reason that India has been refusing to abandon its “nuclear option” for decades. India is well aware that it gained its own nuclear arsenal with big costs and it will force other powers to listen to its opinion.
The India’s nuclear strategy is evolving at a slow pace in the absence of the clear systems of the political leadership of the country. Currently the Indian nuclear weapons are under the civilian control, and the means of their delivery are under the supervision of the militaries. In the operational terms India is reiterating that its nuclear strategy is based strictly on the peaceful principles.
Pakistani “nuclear bomb at all costs”
In 1965 Pakistan made an unsuccessful attempt to oust India in Kashmir. Pakistan lost that war, and the U.S. imposed the arms embargo on the country. As a result, Pakistan was deprived from the U.S. military support and a sense of security, the army began to show dissatisfaction with the current situation and the country’s political crisis started evolving. In 1972 after the defeat in the war with India and the dismemberment of Pakistan, the new president of the President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, declared: “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own”.
So, what are the advantages for Pakistan to keep its nuclear bomb?
First of all, so that to keep distance with India. Now it is already more than half-century that the Indo-Pakistan conflict is ongoing. Pakistan believes that India will continue to be a threat to the Pakistan, and that only the fact that Pakistan acquires the nuclear bomb can make India keep distance with its neighbor.
Secondly, it is an issue of reputation. The military potential of India in the field of conventional weapons is higher than the military capacities of Pakistan. A direct comparison of the nuclear power is not in favor of Pakistan: India has 2 times more soldiers to 1.5 times more tanks, 2.5 times more artillery, a factor of 2 – planes, and 4 times – warships. So, Pakistani nuclear weapons are intended to end this imbalance by making the Indian armed forces helpless in the face of the threat of unacceptable damage to the opponent.
Thirdly, it is a matter of the Pakistani status in the Islamic world. On the international stage, Pakistan and India are in different weight classes. At the same time, the Pakistani government believes that the possession of the nuclear weapons would allow the country to take a more prominent place in the world. Unlike India, Pakistan does not have pretensions to adhere to the club of the great powers and obtain a seat at the Security Council of the UN. The Pakistani ambitions are basically limited to the Islamic world, so the fact of possessing nuclear power rises Islamabad up on the region. The leadership in the Islamic world has always been crucial. In this situation, a Muslim country with nuclear weapons automatically becomes a strategic center of the Muslim world. In 70s ex-President of Pakistan Z.A. Bhutto described the Pakistani nuclear status as an “Islamic bomb”, which proves the modern reality.
Last, but not the least, Pakistan has not yet announced publicly its nuclear strategy. In theory and practice it follows the principles of minimum nuclear deterrence and defense by conventional means. Pakistan was the second country after India to have refused to make a commitment not to use nuclear weapons first. From this it can be concluded that some actions of Pakistan at the international arena, especially those manifested during the previous Indo-Pakistani crises prove that it may use the nuclear weapons in certain situations. Such a situation may occur as a war fought with the conventional weapons, where Pakistan might threaten to use nuclear weapons.
North Korean “nuclear escalation”
The North Korea’s leadership is considering nuclear shield as a guarantor and protection against the regime and the dynasty change. The North Korea has already observed how easily the regimes were eliminated during the Arab Spring. None of them had the nuclear weapons, so they were quickly overthrown by the rebels. So, the North Korea will be avoiding at all cost the repetition of the same scenario on its territory.
The North Korea has not yet entered into the range of the strategic nuclear powers, because, apparently, it has not created yet the compact nuclear warheads for missiles and aircraft carriers. Its potential can largely be described as “provocative” or ” international sabotage”.
In this situation Washington is trying by all means to avoid the escalation of the current crisis into war. At the same time, the U.S. is actively building up its military forces in the region. The “hawks” in the Pentagon urged the administration of the President Barack Obama to abstain from any unnecessary contacts with the dictator. However, the fact is that a war with the North Korea can lead to the use of nuclear weapons and the destruction of the South Korea and some parts of Japan if the White House abandons the tempting idea of pre-emptive strike. For the North Korea the preventive strikes mean war, and this war can become a local disaster. It is high time for the North Korea to change its nuclear strategy.
Iranian “nuclear intimidation”
Currently Iran has the most developed research and production base in the nuclear field among the Islamic states and in the whole Middle Eastern region.
Firstly, the acquisition of the nuclear energy is national pride for Iran, as there is only limited number of the countries, which are, indeed, able to master the nuclear fuel cycle. The progress in the development of the nuclear energy, as well as advancing technologies in the space program are highly valued by the Iranian administration, and not only because it raises its international weight, but also because it proves the effectiveness of the Islamic regimes in general. The Iranian nuclear program is more than a key part of its ideology, it is the most crucial period of its history. The Islamic Republic for such a long time has been fighting hard for its right to use the nuclear energy, so that now it feels itself as a full-fledged master at its house.
Secondly, the Iranians believe that the world concerns about the possibility of the double-use or the misuse of the Iranian nuclear potential cannot be a sufficient reason for the constant international intervention into their nuclear program.
In a summary, as it has been presented above, each country being a part to the nuclear club, has got its own purposes for maintaining the nuclear program, as well as its own goals and strategies that such global schemas might require. In the military-political plan each nuclear country associates with the nuclear weapons five main advantages: the prestige and status in the world policy; prevention of a nuclear attack; containment (six countries except China and, with reservations, the U.S. and India), security guarantees and impact on its allies (Russia, USA, UK and France), “trump card” to exchange for concessions on other countries negotiations on other topics in the multilateral negotiations (Russia and North Korea). However, each nuclear program has got its own specificities. In what it concerns the use of nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear strike attack of the enemy, it all nuclear states respond positively. The states are prepared to use nuclear weapons in response to an attack, which is afflicted upon them with the nuclear weapons. Moreover, such powers as U.S. and Russia intend to resort to the nuclear weapons even if a nuclear attack affects their allies. Russia intends to use nuclear weapons in case of an attack on its allies by using other weapons of mass destruction. The new U.S. nuclear strategy, edited in 2010, does not foresee the usage of the nuclear weapons in response to the usage of other weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. and its allies (except, apparently, to protect Japan and South Korea, which are worried about the threat of such aggression emanating from the North Korea). Russia and Pakistan are ready to use their nuclear weapons under the threat of a catastrophic defeat in the war with an adversary that uses only conventional arms and armed forces. Whereas, the United Kingdom, France and later the United States in “The strategy of NATO” adopted in 2010 allowed the use of the nuclear weapons so that to prevent the destruction of their conventional forces. The new U.S. nuclear doctrine does not permit the usage of the nuclear weapons in such a case. All powers except China and India, allow the use of nuclear weapons in a preemptive strike “by default” so that to destruct the missiles and other weapons of mass destruction of an enemy. It is worth noting that the USA earlier allowed the selective application of the nuclear weapons against the terrorist targets in other situations in a discrete way.
So, as we can see, the fundamental principles of the nuclear strategies are evolving extremely slowly preserving the basic approaches taken on during the Cold War, which, above all, aim at the mutual nuclear deterrence. And the modern common strategy of the nuclear club is to keep in fear the rest of the world, which has mainly the psychological basis. In the communication with non-nuclear states their behavior fits into the following schema: playing with time come to negotiations achieve no substantial results gaining time. Sometimes the nuclear countries agree to come to some concessions, and then, one of them wouldn`t agree (like Iran) and all the process starts from the beginning. Only bilateral negotiations may bring solution to the current nuclear challenges. The negotiations are vital in this case, even if they lead to no results so far, it is fundamental even the fact that they are going on.
- http://www.sipri.org/media/pressreleases/2011/yblaunch11– Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
- http://www.defense.gov/news/Defense_Strategic_Guidance.pdf–US Department of Defense
- http://www.sinodefence.com/strategic/–The online source on China’s military development
- http://www.economist.com/node/10424283 – The journal “Economist”
- http://www.kremlin.ru/ref_notes/461 – The web-site of the President of Russia
- http://thediplomat.com/the-pulse/2013/01/17/india-in-need-of-a-new-pakistan-strategy/– The Journal “The Diplomat”
- http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/11/obama-north-korea-nuclear-threat – The Journal “Guardian”
High expectations from the newly designated Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan
The new designated Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. Nong Rong, an expert in trade and commerce, currently serving as a minister in a Guangxi provincial government. According to the website, The Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Nongrong, a male, born in September 1967, Zhuang ethnicity, a native of Mashan County, Guangxi Province, joined the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) in January 1987, started work in July 1991, holding a MASTER degree in business administration, Senior management, and International business. He has been serving in the Government in various capacities including, foreign trade and economic cooperation, ASEAN-business, City Mayor, and Hong Kong, Macao & Taiwan regions. In December 2019, he assumed the post of Secretary of the Party Committee of the Ethnic Minority Language Working Committee of the Autonomous Region and Vice Minister (and concurrently minister) of the United Front Work Department of the Autonomous Region Party Committee. In January 2020, he assumed the post of Director of the Ethnic Minority Language Working Committee of the Autonomous Region. Deputy to the 13th National People’s Congress and member of the 11th Party Committee of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Mr. Nong Rong will replace Ambassador Yao Jing, who has been serving as a Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan and has served in Pakistan three times in the various capacity of the diplomatic mission. He has also served in India as Deputy Head of Mission and as Ambassador in Afghanistan. He understands the regional issues very well and has been a successful Ambassador in Pakistan. However, he has been called back two months in advance before completing his three-year tenure. He enjoys popularity in Pakistan. He will be joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing until the assigned next assignment.
China and Pakistan are traditional friends, strategic partners, and a nation of shared destiny. Pakistan is the largest supporter of Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI), launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013. Pakistan is a host of one of the Six-Planned Corridors, “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” (CPEC). The CPEC is a flagship initiative and in the most advanced stage of its execution among all other Corridors. Pakistan is the largest beneficiary of BRI, in the form of CPEC.
The early harvest projects, or generally known as phase I, have been completed or going to be completed soon. Most of the projects were in Power Sector and Infrastructure development. Pakistan has almost over-came the shortage of electricity, and a vast network of Motorways and Highways has been established the width and length of Pakistan. The Railway network is being ug-graded soon.
CPEC is to enter into phase II, where the focus will be Agriculture, Industrialization, Services Sector, etc. It will enhance Economic activities and eradicate poverty. This phase will be crucial for Pakistan, as the country is passing through the worst economic crisis. Both governments have been in close consultations to make the second phase more fruitful.
The designated Ambassador is a political appointee and expert of Trade and Commerce; he might be the right choice for Pakistan to take-off CPEC phase II. Keeping his track-record of success and achievements in Guangxi province, it is believed he will contribute toward CPEC a lot. China and Pakistan both nations are committed to turning CPEC as a “role model” of BRI for the rest of the world to be followed. Designated Ambassador has the requisite and relevant expertise.
Although, previously, several Chinese Ambassadors were career diplomats and have been served in the diplomatic assignments in several countries before their appointment as Ambassador to Pakistan. The Appointment of Mr. Nong Rong is out of routine and expected to perform extraordinarily. However, he is not the only political or non-career diplomat appointee. General Geng Biao was also a political appointee as the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan in the 1950s, and he also performed extraordinarily. He was known as the Chief Architect of China-Pakistan relations.
Based on Mr. Nong Rong’s profile and success stories & achievements, high expectations are circulating even before his arrival.
Doubt candy: How to sell inconsistency
“Ah, it is easy to deceive me! I long to be deceived myself!” — thus famously ends one of Alexander Pushkin’s poems entitled “Confession”. A lot is being said today about the negative consequences of forced positivity as well as the effect that the excessive advertising has on our psychological well-being. Gender studies specialists point to the disruptive influence of unrealistic expectations of both women and men perpetuated by the media and society at large. For some reason though, foreign policy research, along with the scholarly work on public diplomacy — a field more readily associated with public outreach — rarely find themselves integrating findings from psychology; social, group subdiscipline of the latter all the less so.
Truth be told, the explanation seems to be obvious. Foreign policy making remains an exclusive, if not elitist, and not necessarily very transparent domain. On top of that, we still primarily associate it with the classic European tradition of diplomacy, wherein the grandmasters such as Metternich, Talleyrand, Richelieu and Bismarck almost single-handedly formulate and execute the chess game moves allegedly beneficial to their respective states. This hardly comes as a surprise: one of if not inherent then certainly currently observed features of democracies is the abundance of apolitical, uninformed or ill-informed citizens whose political activity or lack thereof directly impact the nature of the government. Given the high stakes involved in what is known as the high politics, providing for a separate set of procedures appears justifiable on both rational and irrational grounds: after all, the very essence of the social contract lies with the state ensuring security of its subjects.
Let us now take a closer look at the concept of consistency. We rightfully expect the politician of our choice to deliver on the promises made during the campaign. Or else, we like his or her personality to the point where our emotional predisposition makes us likely to consider this person’s failures as non-critical for re-election. One can think of a number of cognitive biases helpful in explaining this deviation from presumed (now we know: bounded) rationality; to name just two, subjective validation and halo effect are at play. But then, whenever this figure crosses the threshold of our approval, and this often comes in the form of not fulfilling some of the points we prioritized when casting our votes or even ruining our pre-existing image of oneself completely, he or she may well give up on a career of a politician.
Whether this pattern brings us closer to living in a more prosperous country might not be the question that is normally asked; however, neither is denying globalization of humanity’s challenges an option to consider. What is more, an act of taking a person off the political scene and refusing him or her the professional and otherwise future because of a stain on the reputation is frequently driven by the accusers’ own fears or self-interest. It is yet to be explicitly stated, with all the grassroots talk of mental health, what Monica Lewinsky and many others like her really did suffer for. Antonio Gramsci’s theory of cultural hegemony can be further generalized to account for the desire to preserve a given state of affairs by attaching moral evaluations to one’s behavior; without being trained in psychology, it is still easy to acknowledge that guilt tripping is a powerful manipulative technique. Another supporting line of thought was developed by Carol Gilligan, an American psychologist who criticized Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development as biased against women. She found that only white men and boys participated in his experiments and also that Kohlberg clearly saw the consideration of individual rights and rules as more important compared to the consideration of care in human relationships. Further research revealed that in competitive contexts, despite men being prone to reason from a justice rather than ethic-of-care perspective, they demonstrate lower moral standards than do women. This observation might be of an utmost significance to those engaged in social and political theorizing; what is left out of the picture is more telling than what serves to confirm a theory. Theories have the property of affecting us deeply since our mind is programmed to adopt shortcuts to navigate in a demanding environment; all the worse is the impact of those of them that gain broad recognition in spite of, or owing to the biases they are built on.
To add fuel to the fire, premature disappointment with a public figure is hardly a smart measure in the pursuit of one’s political aspirations. The person in question might be a real fighter and a quick learner, yet in no social interaction, and especially not within the complex interrelated governmental systems can one act in complete independence. Before blaming the culture of instant gratification for this tendency in people’s behavior — although undoubtedly invigorated by the former — let us refer to the collection of cognitive biases once again. Here we find the fundamental attribution error, categorized as one of the common distortions emanating from the need to act fast. Humans are inclined to assume that what people do reflects who they are; except when judging ourselves, we assign a greater importance to the external factors.
Every peculiarity of the thinking process had at some point its adaptive value, otherwise it would not have developed. The modern civilization, while taking enormous pride in the achievements of the rational mind, is no better prepared for a drastic revision of its founding principles, however outdated they might be, than any of its precursors. At the heart of liberalism lies the conviction that human beings are selfish by nature whereas proponents of anarchism assert that people are born equal; they bear neither merit nor guilt for their innate differences and are capable of interacting harmoniously without setting up a hierarchy. As the British sociologist Zygmunt Bauman observes, people today are fearful of public gatherings and joint decision-making; anarchic society, on the contrary, demands that the individual be active, open to dialogue and uninterested in handing over to the state or any superior group of people responsibility for managing one’s own life. What stands behind our willingness to be dependent on a state, is it not conformity or status quo bias? Have we not, in fact, had enough revolutions, or is it merely an ordinary ruling class rhetoric?
It is time to explore in greater detail just what exactly the above-mentioned rational and irrational justifications for singling out the foreign policy making are. The curtailed opportunities for popular control of and say in developing strategies and decisions applied in this public policy area is something often taken for granted or seen as historically inevitable. As Eric Alterman shows, the democratic deficit in the way the foreign policy of the US, a traditionally strong democracy, is being made is no recent phenomenon. He comes up with a proposal to set up a novel institution allowing for a more inclusive discussion, thereby tackling the root cause of the problematic situation — a tradition of institutional and, in particular, presidential secrecy in foreign affairs. This political reality precludes the enlightenment of the people, necessary for a healthy functioning of republic. Neither are the conditions for it created nor the incentives of the elites to proceed in that direction are formed.
The idea that a handful of specially trained people would do a better job of deciding on highly complicated issues than a larger group of non-specialists holds in most contexts. The content of the training and the organizational setup, however, are of crucial importance. Social institutions within which the reflective forms of information processing are encouraged effectively attenuate common biases. All too often, closed systems operating on rarely questioned principles — this is what many states’ foreign policy communities resemble — amplify cognitive biases by relying on shared misconceptions. When the price of making commitments is low; when there is no audience to judge one’s choices; when there is a high degree of certainty regarding one’s professional future, no motivation to think more flexibly and rigorously exists. Accountability pressures have to be introduced artificially. Additionally, experimental work indicates that the choice process taking place in the open and transparent settings is characterized by a reduced number of breakdowns in consistency on the part of decision-makers. Here is another reason to transform the conventional mechanisms of shaping the foreign policy — if only consistency is what we are striving for.
Coming back to the question of personal consistency in political leaders, let us now address the following question: since ensuring security is referred to as the most important function of the state and the competence unique to it, can a popular preference for the strong, confident and principled leaders be connected with the public understanding of security? A situation in which the people of the country vote for an authoritarian personality after having been through a period of tumultuous transition or war is well-known and can easily be described in psychological terms. Yet the right choice to make is frequently counterintuitive. In fact, if by consistency we mean sticking to the same set of values and beliefs all along as well as maintaining little to no gap between words and actions, then by putting it first, we basically deny a politician opportunity for personal growth. People would rather have it predictable than look out for someone who is capable of reassessing his or her past behavior, draw conclusions and change; someone whose approach is nuanced and adjustable. Both the US-led and the USSR-led camps during the Cold War rallied behind an unambiguous ideology and both, just as observed in the aforementioned studies on male morality in competitive contexts, committed horrible things while positioning themselves as firmly committed to the common good — only to preserve a holistic facade and come out a winner. The American approach towards proliferators of the weapons of mass destruction has the quality of placing every hostile to it authoritarian regime in the same box regardless of the motivations behind the pursuit of weapons — at the same time, treating proliferators friendly to the US much more leniently — and the following adoption of harsh measures with little attempt at negotiating. Possibly out of the experience of a highly consistent but criminal political regime, today’s Germany pays greater attention to specific circumstances of the proliferator and acts on the basis of the nature of the threat, if any, and the degree of urgency of prevention. On the other hand, its commercial interests prevailed on a number of controversial occasions in the past and it might be argued that the same is happening these days, too. These examples demonstrate just how typical is the connection between the exhibited and desired consistency and the quest for power. A psychological explanation for the proposed cases requires a reference to the need for closure, an urge to put an end to uncertainty, to find a clear answer to a disquieting question. In the words of Vladimir Bibikhin, a prominent Soviet-Russian philologist and philosopher, “..Unfortunately, nothing in humanity is as widespread, takes away as much energy and kills the mind as mercilessly as mending consciousness for fear of rupture. Supposedly in life there must be a “harmony” of consciousness. No, there should not, for this is death.”
Before moving on to the issue of application of marketing tools in public diplomacy, let me add another stroke to the psychological portrait of a person who chooses to outsource his or her security. Prospect theory, which was developed by Kanehman and Tversky in 1979, challenges the expected utility theory by positing, on the basis of empirical information, that people assess their gain and loss perspectives in an asymmetric manner. Not surprisingly, this approach is extensively applied to political decision-making, predominantly in matters relating to security. The statesmen trained to view the international arena as a realist-type environment of self-help and resenting certain historical occurrences are tempted to disregard the subjective well- being of the citizens they supposedly serve and work towards tilting the geopolitical balance. Their perception of a probability of success or failure in this endeavor has a decisive influence on whether an attempt to do so, and by what particular methods, will be undertaken. And so, because chances are — and as we learn from history, they are high — that the decision-makers under- or overestimate those probabilities, the nation is at great risk of suffering economic and otherwise hardship. Even if the venture turns out to be successful, availability bias — the tendency to overestimate the probability of events that come to mind easily — along with a long list of other cognitive distortions inevitably are here to plague every new cohort of politicians. Conversely, the population does not fancy any alternative institutional setup and regards conflicts as normalcy: people are either unaware of a larger socio-political context or live with implicit ideas of an established state of affairs, not recognizing that many of their private struggles result from a mode of societal functioning they take for granted. Yet beyond it there may lay a reality in which a discontinuation of outsourcing security brings about a more peaceful and prosperous world. Until then, we are destined to instinctively choose the leaders whose apparent resolve to prevail at all cost feels comforting and makes us believe that the entity meant to protect us will not disintegrate.
It may be objected that the role of the liberal norms in contemporary international community is such that hardly any state wholeheartedly believes and has a possibility to exercise Realpolitik. This statement does not stand up to criticism; to see that, it suffices to review the latest doctrines and policy proposals in the fields of security and defense issued by various states. The language being used and the total absence of references to any recent psychological discoveries that have the potential to alter our threat perceptions are indicative. The promise of nuclear disarmament enjoys little enthusiasm of possessor states. This traditional political actor has indeed lost much of its mandate in the last decades, but a number of states nevertheless pretend to be operating in an environment where the primary demands of their citizens are concentrated not around their own material and spiritual well-being but around an imaginary success of an imaginary community.
Political choice is optional, economic choices are inescapable. Marketing experts never tire to emphasize the importance of consistency in branding. A brand, just like a country, is both imagined and experienced. Companies seek to promote a clear picture of themselves, to become associated with certain values, to gain trust of potential customers. Money is a key resource people dispose of and exchange for what brings comfort and satisfaction. We choose from a great variety of options and quite naturally, every firm does its best to appeal to us and be preferred over others.
In doing so, it essentially cultivates its recognizable identity with a view to grab its share of customer attention and finance. Is market economy, especially when regulated loosely, not an example of a kind of self-help space similar to that pictured by the realist school of thought in international relations? Simon Anholt might regret having coined a term “nation brand”, but what happened to it is a timely reminder of how politics is about economic competition more than anything else.
The central problem is the same as outlined above: people’s interests, not necessarily expressed in economic terms but necessarily contradicting, are nowhere to be represented. As Naomi Klein brilliantly put it, “..Unlike strong brands, which are predictable and disciplined, democracy is messy and fractious, if not outright rebellious.” In other words, the task of self-presentation for a country is complicated by the fact that there is no such thing as an absolute consistency whereas dynamic objects evade clear-cut definitions. Governors are supposed to appreciate and act on the feedback from those affected by the measures they enact. When a country seeks to improve its image and feels pressed to present itself in a consistent manner, it is tempted to clamp down on some of the dissenting manifestations of itself, both domestic and external. However, this goal itself is questionable. Among Robert Jervis’ hypotheses on misperception there are some underlining human tendency to assume that others act in a more coordinated fashion than is the case. The foreign ministry is responsible for conveying the state’s official position, but it is only natural that the state institutions are incapable of keeping tabs on the moves of every agent associated with it. What makes this impossible should not be called the state’s weakness, for this term is misleading. Expanding state control will not only gain us a diminished discrepancy between what it claims to oversee and what it actually does, but will also come with all of the adverse effects of centralization. Instead, reinventing a state’s role would avert the need to correspond to an unlikely standard.
Psychological research does more than chronicle human cognitive imperfections. In actuality, it also uncovers the features of behavior that give hope for the positive change. It was shown that people dislike being instructed by infallible and overly smart leaders. Not only do you have to be an effective communicator — and this correlates with emotional intelligence stronger than it does with IQ — but you also have to, in order to gain public sympathy, be able to admit your shortcomings and thus give people a sense of being in the same boat rather than clearly standing out. An approach both human-oriented and strategic, said to be more congenial to women, wins over hearts and drives the business forward. If men are socialized to suppress their emotions to be able to concentrate on what is called the facts of life and fix the problems, we can now claim that this practice probably entails more negative repercussions than benefits. A caring, empathetic governing style is usually not welcome in the top political circles and especially not in those of the nation states aiming to project a coherent, uniform image. It is not the change per se that is a problem, but rather an adversarial mindset we are taught in our families and societies, often ageing and inherently conservative.
Man-made orders cannot but be flawed, if only because so are our ways of thinking. Order is created and maintained to ensure predictability and one’s freedom to be fulfilling one’s vision using captured resources over at least some period of time, always at the expense of somebody else’s freedom to do so. Hence, the question of whether inconsistency as a characteristic of an image projected outwards can induce desire to take possession of or grow closer to the given object, can be curiously rephrased. What kind of people and under what circumstances would find the lack of security, predictability and material wealth to be a positive, not a negative? This question makes me think of revolutionaries who are committed to an idea and brings to mind the unfortunate events of the Russian 20th century. Together with that, it reminds me of how high of a price in violence, stifled voices and, ultimately, underreported and unresolved problems is being paid in the name of the status quo. Knowing that social reality impacts immensely on the way we perceive and interpret things, one may well arrive at a thought that we have to learn to transition smoothly. Only then will a deep-entrenched association between the change and humiliation gradually retreat into the past, along with all the cognitive biases borne of fear of defeat and exclusion. And if today, triggering the erosion of this link still requires some risk, those who embark on this path regardless may draw some courage and inspiration from a proven fact — and prove it yet again — that people fall for honesty.
Exceptional Diplomacy: Counter-hegemony and Resistance in International Relations
Formally established in the summer of 2013, the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) outlines its governing principles by stating that it is “a global non-profit organization that supports representatives of international football teams from nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports-isolated territories.” Distinguishing itself from and operating outside of and beyond the oversight of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), CONIFA instead provides an ostensibly neutral and apolitical platform from which marginalized, oppressed, or endangered communities can interact with one another on the global stage while competing in what is arguably the world’s most popular sport. Unfortunately, this year’s CONIFA World Football Cup, originally scheduled to take place in Skopje, North Macedonia, was cancelled because of concerns related to the spread of the corona virus.
While at first glance it might be easy to diminish, if not outright dismiss, the relevance or significance of CONIFA and its project, upon further and deeper consideration what becomes clearer is how it and similar organizations and alliances can serve to challenge existing geopolitical and commercial hierarchies. By creating and participating in alternative and parallel spaces, these groups help to establish novel forms of counter-hegemonic power and resistance that can provide for unique, creative, and exceptional forms of diplomacy, trade, and cultural exchange.
A recent case that reveals the complex and complicated dynamics of modern statecraft is the successful outmaneuvering of the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) by the Taiwanese foreign ministry in its successful establishment of a representative office in Somaliland. Insofar as both Taiwan and Somaliland are considered un- or under-recognized states by the wider international community, their decision to establish representative offices is noteworthy. In a brief prepared for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Thomas J. Shattuck, Research Associate in the Asia Program and Managing Editor at FPRI, discusses the productive and disruptive potential of the economic and political alliance forged between Taiwan and Somaliland by arguing that “Taiwan can offer mutual respect—something that it fights for around the globe every day, something that is in short supply for Somaliland internationally, and something that Beijing cannot provide. Mutual respect between two unrecognized countries will foster stronger bonds than any economic package ever could. (emphasis added)”
By resisting and denying the overtures of the PRC in favor of pursuing a relationship with Taiwan, Somaliland has in effect successfully subverted China’s so-called aggressive “wolf-warrior diplomacy” and was able to reject the economic enticements associated with the Belt and Road Initiative which for many nations around the globe has ended in the accumulation of unsustainable levels of debt and dependency. For its part, Taiwan has shown that it has a continued and sustained interest in establishing its autonomy, if not explicit sovereignty and independence, in the face of relentless pressures placed on the island by the PRC.
In response to Taiwan’s recent success in Somaliland, Paul Antonopoulos asks the following question: “If Taiwan is creating a network of unrecognized and partially unrecognized states, especially as it already recognizes Kosovo, could Taipei in the near future approach the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (recognized as a part of Morocco), the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (recognized as a part of the Republic of Cyprus), South Ossetia and Abkhazia (recognized as a part of Georgia), the Republic of Artsakh (recognized as a part of Azerbaijan) and Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (recognized a part of Moldova)?” While the risks and challenges for Taiwan associated with conducting such an agenda are manifold, Antonopoulos’s speculation as to the potential efficacy of the pursuit of this type of policy is indeed suggestive as it gestures toward the idea of the establishment of a kind of counter-hegemonic power referenced above.
Above and beyond achieving the much sought after and deeply important status of international legitimacy or the demand for recognition of territorial, cultural, or linguistic rights afforded by existing conventions and protocols, other regional and political blocs advocate for policies relevant to mere survival. Recognizing the threats of global warming and the potential catastrophic effects of the melting of the polar ice caps, the Alliance of Small Island States pushes for more aggressive measures regarding ecological justice and other pressing environmental issues.The mission of the alliance is as follows: “AOSIS is a coalition of 44 small island and low-lying coastal developing states, including five observers. As a voice for the vulnerable, its mandate is more than amplifying marginalised voices as it also advocates for these countries’ interests. In terms of size, AOSIS closely resembles the countries it represents on the global stage, but often punches far above its weight, negotiating historic global commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, among other achievements.” Thus, in contemporary international relations, defined as they are typically by the demands and dictates of large states (both in terms of area and population), it is of crucial importance for alliances such as AOSIS to have a seat at the proverbial table in order to have their very necessary and urgent concerns addressed.
Of course, no discussion of marginalized people or vulnerable and at-risk populations is complete without mentioning the continuing struggle of the Palestinians for justice and international legitimacy. Obviously, a complete and total history of the Arab-Israeli conflict is impossible in the space of a brief essay; suffice it to say, however, that recent developments, including the relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem and the Israel – United Arab Emirates peace agreement, can be read as actions that serve as barriers to what is hoped for in Gaza and the West Bank will be the eventual successful establishment of a universally recognized independent Palestinian state. And while the latest ceasefire understandings between Hamas and Israel are constructive, especially regarding the maintenance of peace and security as well as concerns over the spread of the corona virus, they are not necessarily indicative of a lasting and durable framework for the cessation of hostilities in the region.
Ultimately, in order to adequately and forcefully confront the neoliberal status quo now governing the international political order, new, perhaps even idiosyncratic, strategies are required. Among these are certainly the ability of a wide variety of actors, including unrecognized states, NGOs, and various blocs and alliances, to offer alternatives to and different perspectives on traditional modes of conflict resolution, resource allocation, and territorial disputes. And finally, in full recognition of the transcendence of sport, let us hope that very soon there will be a rescheduled CONIFA World Cup to lift our spirits after a supremely demanding 2020.
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