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Arctic & Antarctic: geo-economic opportunity, geopolitical dilemma

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Arctic and Antarctica, the world’s two regions within the polar circles of the Northern and Southern hemispheres, were rarely discussed in the past (be it in general literature on geopolitics, law or international relations), but lately have gained the attention of the international community.

At first glance it seems that the two opposite but complementary polar caps have much in common – for a general audience the differentiating point might be only a TV quiz-like question: “Where polar bears and where penguins live?” However, when taking a closer look, a significant difference becomes apparent: the two opposing poles are of a different morphological and tectonic, climatic, anthropo-biological, political and indeed of different legal standing.  

The South Pole – Antarctica – is the region governed by a treaty which is fully accepted by the entire international community (that includes all of the neighboring and interested states), but is, however, of a limited timeline (50 years). In the North – Arctic – on the contrary, the setup of a special legal framework is still under discussion. Due to the current global warming, vast perennial ice sheets are melting, resulting not only in an environmental threat but also marking an opening of certain economic opportunities (including alternative transportation and shipping routes, namely the Northwest Passage, the Northern Sea Route and the Arctic Bridge, but also large mineral resources exploitation prospects). A new environmental reality unleashed a commercially–driven run on the Arctic, often described by the media as “land grab in the Arctic” or “new gold rush in the High North” (five circumpolar states are the major players striving to acquire substantial geoeconomic and geopolitical shares in the northern region and by doing so, conflicting over the possible demarcation lines).

The question arises if the absence of a definite legal setting in the Arctic and the increased focus on national (geoeconomic and geopolitical) interests (and prides) by the five concerned states might trigger border tensions, domestic unrest, an open armed conflict and hence, endanger the global security. Among the Five there is a lot: two P-5 members and both of them (former) superpowers, four are NATO members facing Russia on the other edge, three European versus two American, one in the EU, three of the G–8, and all of them the OSCE members.

What is to preserve the major powers’ balance – a change or the maintenance of the current Arctic and Antarctica status quo?

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Modern Diplomacy Advisory Board, Chairman Geopolitics of Energy Editorial Member Professor and Chairperson for Intl. Law & Global Pol. Studies contact: anis@bajrektarevic.eu

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Diplomacy

Higher Education and Diplomacy: Essential Skills for Becoming a Diplomat

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Do you want to become a diplomat? Are you interested in learning more about diplomacy? If yes, you should know that diplomatic skills play a key role in today’s global society. Therefore, mastering these skills is crucial for students who aspire to pursue a career in international affairs or diplomacy.

A career in diplomacy requires specific knowledge and expertise beyond academic study. To achieve their goals. Young diplomats must master various aspects of communication and negotiation. With conflict management, crisis response, cultural awareness, and language proficiency.

“Diplomatic skills” encompass a wide range of abilities. From interpersonal relations to public speaking and effective leadership. These skills are essential in negotiating agreements between countries, improving trade relations, and resolving conflicts. Here are the crucial skills for becoming a diplomatic.

Education Requirements

Although there are no set educational prerequisites to enter the field of diplomacy. A degree in a relevant subject can help hone the abilities needed to succeed in the industry. Writing assignments are often very important for university students.

Most colleges require that students complete at least three academic papers per semester. And since these papers usually take several weeks to complete. You must learn to give yourself plenty of time to craft a high-quality piece. It would be best if you always doubled check the assignment requirements before starting to write your paper. Make sure you’ve covered every aspect of the assignment, use a Fixgerald plagiarism checker to ensure your papers are unique and meet the necessary requirements, and check your topic selection to referencing style. If you need help figuring out where to start, consider asking your professor for guidance.

Since diplomats might go in several different directions professionally. Knowledge in a wide range of disciplines is useful. All candidates, however, need to have a solid grasp of international relations and diplomacy. So many people choose to major in similar fields.

For example, a master’s in global studies and international relations prepares students to understand the complex interplay of politics, law, economics, and security worldwide.

You can choose from four concentrations. Thid includes global health and development, conflict resolution, diplomacy, and international economics and consulting.

Some Degrees Give You An Upper Hand

U.S. diplomats have varied levels of education, from high school diplomas to doctorates.

In a great number of nations, including the USA and UK, among others. To enter the diplomatic service, one must first score well on a general aptitude test. Candidates for FSO positions should therefore brush up on their foundational skills such as algebra, reading comprehension, and reasoning in advance of taking these exams. The purpose of such tests is to gauge the applicant’s general knowledge.

It is helpful but not required to have a background in history, politics, law, or human rights. Most embassies and consulates will tell you that learning about government and international politics is essential if you want to work in diplomacy as a career.

Learn More Languages

For the simple reason that the United States mandates pre-departure language training for all successful applicants. Being able to speak the language well is not a prerequisite for a diplomatic position. However, your application will stand out more if you have international experience and can speak two or more languages. It is more valuable than knowing Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, or Urdu to be able to speak and write your native language.

After a person has done well enough on the test to get in. Most embassies and consulates will perform exhaustive interviews and screenings to establish if a candidate is qualified for a foreign service position.

Be Prepared For The Challenges

The field of foreign service is a challenging one. The ability to keep in touch with loved ones is a challenge for FSOs. This is because officers frequently have to uproot their families in order to serve, and the job itself can be strenuous. However, this in no way diminishes the value of a career as an FSO. There are always a lot of prospective FSOs and experienced officers at an embassy or consulate, all of whom want to get posted somewhere exciting.

Rookies will generally be sent to the most dangerous places first. Since seniority is the most important factor in finding a new job. If you want to be a good FSO, you need to be able to adjust to change. They need to be self-aware enough to see when they need assistance, and determined enough to put in the work required to succeed.

Conclusion

Are you interested in studying to become a diplomat? There are plenty of opportunities, and you don’t even need to go abroad to get them. The reality is diplomacy is both a science and an art. And because it involves negotiation skills, communication ability, and conflict resolution. It requires specific skills. To become a good diplomat, you need to develop these essential skills.

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Religious diplomacy

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With the pandemic still hanging over our heads and a looming global recession, there’s a simple question before us: Will the world move forward–or fall back?

If we want freedom to spread, open societies to grow, trade to increase, and economic growth to advance, we must all see these as interconnected. They transcend day-to-day politics and grow instead from older, deeper sources, particularly religion. Not the kind imposed from above, but the kind that grows through and across societies and cultures. For those who understand the value of that kind of faith, what has happened in Bali, Indonesia must be engaged.

There is a remarkable convergence of religious wisdom and perspective in Indonesia this week; all the world needs to pay attention, especially the parts that might have looked down on the so-called Global South.  Recent weeks have seen contentious elections and surprising volatility even in the most stable countries. In Sweden, a nationalist party has surged to the forefront. In the United Kingdom, three Prime Ministers in a matter of months.

Beyond and behind these surprising headlines is a gathering global turbulence.

The institutions that inspired free trade, open borders and remarkable economic growth are deteriorating. We have several choices before us.

We can do nothing, but that would hardly provide us much hope for the future. We would only face greater headwinds and worse outcomes. We can replace those institutions, but there are few if any convincing or compelling ideas about what those substitutes would be. Or we can work to critically examine our institutions, see where their foundations are weakening, and seek out thoughtful ways to replenish and renew them.

In Bali, the R20 is launching to pursue that path of replenishment and renewal. Launching through and alongside the Group of 20 or G20, that body’s Religion Forum (“R20” for short) will mobilize faith leaders to ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of peace, progress and prosperity in the 21st century. Among the R20’s goals is “infusing geopolitical and economic power structures with moral and spiritual values.”

One of the world’s senior Islamic scholars, Dr. Abdul Karim Al-Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, announced on day one of the R20: “Major global challenges today are not merely political or economic … They are moral. And navigating the world out of these crises requires moral leadership. This year, the world’s religious leaders are for the first time part of the G20. It is time we acknowledge that religion must be part of the solution for global crises.”

This is exactly what the G20 needs; even many of its most stable countries are stumbling. Like the United States, some lack shared unifying practices–a monarchy is one example–and so their polarization becomes ever more severe. Could thoughtful, compassionate, and genuine religious traditions, developed over generations to become meaningful pillars of diverse societies, be the answer?

As a member of the nobility of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu, a 600-year-old historical thalassocracy, I have dedicated many years working with traditional Islamic monarchies in Southeast Asia and have a unique viewpoint on why the R20 matters. Considering I was born in the Roman Catholic faith, this might be a rare perspective of course, since many in the West–the historic core of the developed world–know comparatively little about Islam or Southeast Asia.

Let alone Islam in Southeast Asia.

Which is why launching the R20 in Indonesia is massively meaningful. Not only is Indonesia the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, but it is also of course a G20 economy, a secular democracy, and home to the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), a unique organization that represents some 100 million moderate Muslims–a huge portion of Indonesia’s population. Its General Chairman, Mr. Yahya Staquf, is a compelling Muslim thinker and scholar, who has challenged critical misinterpretations of Islam.

In my purview, the NU is a major reason why Indonesia has remained a secular democracy.

To begin this conference in such a dynamic society is incredibly heartening; not only does the Forum gain from the experience of one of the world’s largest Muslim bodies, but that body (the NU) is also closely partnering with the previously mentioned Muslim World League, the world’s largest Islamic non-governmental organization, to build the R20. A wise pairing: NU promotes a pluralistic approach to Islam, with roots in Southeast Asia going back many centuries. That makes the Muslim World League a natural partner and amplifier.

Behind its Secretary-General, Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, the Muslim World League has become a remarkable force for moderation, inter-faith and intra-faith dialogue, and global religious consciousness. The NU and the MWL reach huge numbers of Muslims, the world’s fastest-growing faith community, much of which lives outside the G20. If the principles of an open world order are to survive and expand, they will need to find ways to engage audiences beyond their borders.

To convince them that their values and many of the original sources of the G20’s dynamism are not at odds. That is something NU, the Muslim World League, and the R20 can well do.

To say nothing of their wider reach. In that spirit, in fact, the Muslim World League announced at the R20 “a new humanitarian fund for the victims of war everywhere.” Not only is the fund not directed only to Muslims, but it also reaches beyond Muslim-majority countries more broadly. Dr. Al-Issa emphasized that Ukraine would be a primary area of the fund’s focus. That is sure to encourage other faith leaders in attendance that the R20 is not just an exercise in lofty rhetoric, but active, on-the-ground engagement.

His Holiness Pope Francis has already addressed the R20; he is joined in his participation by other leaders of the Catholic Church, the world’s largest single faith denomination, as well as senior representatives of the Protestant World Evangelical Alliance, representing 600 million believers in over 140 countries. That is not to mention clergy from Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, as well as other Christian and Muslim traditions. In that spirit, the next G20 (and R20) will take place in India, followed by Brazil; the world’s largest Hindu and Catholic countries, respectively.

India is a place where more conversations about religion, the state and freedom need to happen urgently. About 84% of the world’s population say religion is important, if not very important to them—the future of the world’s freedom and flourishing requires a thoughtful engagement with the thoughtfully religious. Without religious freedom, there cannot be economic freedom. Without economic freedom, we are unlikely to see meaningful, sustainable, long-term human flourishing. And in that aspect, Dr. Al-Issa is right, religion must be part of that process.

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The Soft Power: The U.S.-Chinese-Russian Competition

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The US-Chinese-Russian competition for global influence is not limited to military, economic, and technological tools, but extends beyond them to the realm of soft power. Traditionally, the concept of force in international relations refers to the military and economic spheres and is described as hard power, and it tends to coerce, whether through the actual use or threat of force, or the imposition or threat of economic sanctions. Also, hard power includes incentives, in all its forms and levels, that a strong state presents to a weaker one, or hints at depriving it of them. On the other hand, soft power avoids direct tools of coercion or enticement, and instead seeks to influence by marketing an attractive and successful human, cultural, political, and economic model, or by focusing on higher value systems, building persuasive narratives, or talking about a system of more balanced international, based on fair rules and principles…etc.

The three great powers realize the importance of soft power within the previous determinants, and then each of them tries to promote either its own model or the benefits that will accrue to the world if it stands with it. In this context, we recall the Chinese-Russian summit, which brought together Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, early this year in the Chinese capital, Beijing, during which they pledged to work to end the uniqueness of the United States in global hegemony and work to establish a new international order based on multipolarity. In the joint statement issued by the two leaders, there were clear references to soft power, as the two sides approach it, whether in terms of rejecting unilateral approaches in addressing international issues and resorting to force and interference in the affairs of states and infringing on their legitimate rights and interests, or in terms of rejecting the Western definition of democracy and how to practice, and thus the misuse of democratic values ​​and interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states under the pretext of protecting democracy and human rights. On the other hand, Washington reiterates its accusations that the two sides are trying to destabilize the foundations and ‘the rules of the international system’, and considers that these foundations and rules, which it considers itself a custodian, guarantee the establishment of stability globally.

I live in a country where the First Constitutional Amendment fortifies freedom of expression, no matter how different the prevailing beliefs and convictions are. This was one of the dimensions President Joe Biden alluded to as the 2020 nominee when he spoke of strengthening American leadership globally, through the ‘power of the model’ and ‘reclaiming moral leadership.’

In practice, there is a vast discrepancy between claimed or endorsed American values, and their practice. Nevertheless, the United States succeeds in employing soft power to its advantage, even if it contains degrees of deception and hypocrisy. Perhaps a critic of American foreign policies from the heart of Washington itself, without fear or apprehension of arrest or direct targeting, what serves the purposes of American propaganda, as this supports its other soft power tools, such as claiming to carry the banner of democracy and human rights in the world, even if there is a contradiction between the example and reality. I do not want to simplify the previous issue here, as there is some complexity in it. The constitutionally protected freedom of expression may be subject to political or security abuse, but this is another story. Also, American soft power is based on additional menus that appeal to many people, even in China and Russia, such as the imagined American lifestyle offered by Hollywood, and the vast space for success possibilities, or through the companies like Cable, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Starbucks…etc.

Hence, the concept of American soft power and its tools are broader and deeper than their Chinese and Russian counterparts. In the cases of Beijing and Moscow, we find a focus on soft power in terms of competing with the US model of hegemony and interfering in the affairs of states under various pretexts, including democracy and human rights, but they overlook that they are no less a violation of just international values ​​and rules than the United States. In addition, the bulk of their use of soft power is directed at authoritarian regimes that are fed up with Washington’s repeated ‘lectures’ on democracy and human rights, even if they do not care about them, while both China and Russia focus on commercial and military interests, without blackmail in the name of freedoms, democracy, and human rights.

As a result, the soft power of each of these parties, in essence, carries a lot of coercion, not less than hard power, but rather a complement to it. The United States employs its soft power to remain at the top of the pyramid of the international system as a hegemonic superpower, and then values ​​are often subject to considerations of interests rather than morals. While China and Russia seek to weaken American hegemony, and their soft power has implicit coercive relations, whether through economic involvement, as China does, with countries that request their help, or dumping dictatorial regimes with all kinds of expensive weapons that are not conditional on respecting the rights of their people, as they do Russians.

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