Today’s complex security environment requires the United States to use all of its instruments of power to maintain its status in the world, as well as to protect its own interests and the interests of its allies. Traditionally, the instruments of power are separated into Diplomacy, Intelligence, Military, Economic, Financial, Information, and Law Enforcement, abbreviated as DIMEFIL in nearly every United States military Professional Military Education (PME) school. In almost all cases, the Military is considered the strongest of those instruments of power while Diplomacy is too often give short shrift. However, the continued use of Military Diplomacy offers a hybrid instrument of power to help connect with allies across regions while advancing the interests of the United States. This article will look at military diplomacy as a potential hybrid instrument of national power and how the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq (OSC-I), under the U.S. Embassy Baghdad and U.S. Central Command utilized military diplomacy to reconnect Iraq with its neighbors in the Middle East.
The current United States National Security Strategy (December 2017) lays out the importance of continuing to engage with our partners and potential allies. It states, “Diplomacy catalyzes the political, economic, and societal connections that create America’s enduring alignments and that build positive networks of relationships with partners.” The Diplomacy and Statecraft section goes on to identify three different types of diplomacy: Competitive Diplomacy, Tools of Economic Diplomacy and Information Statecraft.
Similarly, the Military instrument of national power is mentioned throughout the 2017 National Security Strategy. From protecting the American people to defeating Jihadist terrorists, the military instrument of power is weaved throughout the document. However, there is a gap within the 2017 National Security Strategy. The article attempts to draws a cleaner line between the use of the United States military and its diplomatic efforts. The use of military diplomacy is an important tool not addressed in the National Security Strategy and one that can help bridge this gap.
What is military diplomacy
There is not a standard definition of military diplomacy. Erik Pajtinka defines military diplomacy as,
“A set of activities carried out mainly by the representatives of the defense department, as well as other state institutions, aimed at pursuing the forcing policy interests of the state in the field of security and defense policy, and whose actions are based on the use of negations and other diplomatic interests.” He goes on to define military diplomacy as “a specific field of diplomacy which focused primarily on the pursuit of foreign policy interests of the state in the field of security and defense policy.”
Amy Ebitz, in her paper from the Brookings Institute titled, “The Use of Military Diplomacy in Great Power Competition: Lessons Learned from the Marshall Plan,” states Military diplomacy can also be referred to as “defense diplomacy,” soft power,” “military public diplomacy,” and “strategic communication. Her terms of either defense diplomacy or military public diplomacy align well with the above definition of military diplomacy. However, use of soft power and strategic communications do not. Soft Power, as originally coined by Joseph Nye, refers to, “the ability of a country to persuade others to do what it wants without force or coercion.” This often is accomplished by projecting soft power through companies, foundations, universities, churches, and other institutions of civil society. I would argue soft power falls more in the information instrument of national power and not within the military instrument.
Strategic communications is defined in the International Journal of Strategic Communications as,
“The purposeful use of communication by an organization to fulfill its mission. Six relevant disciplines are involved in the development, implementation, and assessment of communications by organizations: management, marketing, public relations, technical communications, political communication and information/social marketing campaigns.”
Using this definition as a base, military diplomacy does not fit well into these categories of strategic communications.
For the purpose of this paper, Erik Pajtinka’s definition, “A set of activities carried out mainly by the representatives of the defense department, as well as other state institutions, aimed at pursuing the forcing policy interests of the state in the field of security and defense policy, and whose actions are based on the use of negotiations and other diplomatic interests,” will be used to guide this article.
There are three main parts of Pajtinka’s definition of military diplomacy. First, “The activities are carried out mainly by the representatives of the defense department.” This is a critical difference between traditional diplomacy. Rather than traditional diplomats in the lead, different representatives from the Department of Defense are leading these efforts.
Next, the activities are, “Aimed at pursuing the foreign policy interests of the state in the field of security and defense policy.” As with most actions at the strategic level, the activities of military diplomacy must focus on the foreign policy interests of the government. However, a key difference is these foreign policy interests are in the fields of security and defense policy. The focus on these two traditionally military related fields helps clarify where traditional diplomacy ends and military diplomacy begins.
Finally, those implementing military diplomacy conduct their activities, “Based on the use of negotiations and other diplomatic interests.” Unlike other traditional military activities to work with partner nations, military diplomacy leads through negotiations and other diplomatic interests before entering back into traditional military endeavors. This will be explained further in the example of the Office of Security Cooperation-Baghdad’s efforts.
The Department of Defense has a variety of tools available to promote military diplomacy. First and foremost are the Combatant Commanders themselves. These four-star General Officers are responsible for specified geographic regions across the globe. Within each combatant command, the leadership interacts with numerous countries across their footprint. For example, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has an area of responsibility of more than 4 million square miles, populated by more than 550 million people from 22 ethnic groups speaking over 18 languages. Equally important, CENTCOM partners with 20 nations from Kazakhstan to Egypt. Each United States combatant command has similar footprints, getting to interact with nearly every nation on the globe in some capacity.
The Commander of a combatant command interacts with all of the nations within their footprint. When visiting one of the countries in their area of operations, they coordinate with both the U.S. Ambassador responsible for the country team and the security cooperation office within the host nation. The result is a high ranking military diplomat, synchronized with the leading Department of State person in country, and bringing a massive capability to work with partner nation security forces.
Combatant commands have a large tool kit from which to pull from to help move U.S. interests forward. This includes all branches of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) as well as the ability to serve as a coordinator between nations who may not have the friendliest of histories. Each branch of the service under the combatant commands carries with it leadership, units and expertise within their respective regions. The result is a massive amount of capability to conduct military diplomacy.
Military diplomacy in Iraq 2017-2018
As Iraq achieved success against Islamic State (IS) forces in 2017, there was a palpable shift from the use of military power to military diplomacy. After decades of isolation brought by previous Iraqi actions, United Nations sanctions and violence following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Government of Iraq only had one neighbor to turn to for help within the region: Iran. Sharing a major border of nearly 875 miles, these two countries have always been and will always be neighbors. As a result, there is a massive amount of legal and illegal trade crossing their borders. Additionally, the commonality of the Shia religion in both countries connects them on another level. The two have been, and will be tied together due to their proximity and shared backgrounds.
However, Iraq needed other partners in their region besides Iraq. As a result, the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq(OSC-I), located within the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, focused on using military diplomacy to help Iraq break out of its isolation. Traditionally, Security Cooperation offices focus on the sale of U.S. military equipment to a host nation. OSC-I works for both for the U.S. Chief of Mission in Iraq, and for U.S. CENTCOM. This placed it in a perfect position to facilitate military diplomacy.
In mid-2017, OSC-I had two main lines of effort. The first was traditional security assistance: the sale of equipment and parts to the Iraqi government. The second, defense institution building, focused on security sector reform and the building of the necessary institutions to sustain their security forces. Eventually, the priority of effort shifted to the important work of ensuring the sustainability of defense institutions. However, as the ISIS fight within Iraq concluded, senior leadership within both Department of State and Defense realized Iraq needed local partners to break out of its isolation. As a result, OSC-I developed a third line of effort: Regional Engagements (see Figure 1).
The regional engagement effort became a classic case of implementing military diplomacy to help a partner nation, Iraq. Knowing Iraq was isolated with only Iran as a local partner, the use of military diplomacy became a critical component of reconnecting Iraq with their other neighbors more friendly to the United States. The goal was to reconnect Iraq with its neighbors through military-to-military engagements to encourage a confident, independent Iraq and reduce Iraq’s isolation. As a result, military diplomacy became a major effort between the United States and Iraq.
OSC-I, working with the Department of State and CENTCOM, reached out to surrounding neighbors and their militaries to increase military-to-military cooperation. This was the first step of military diplomacy. The initial plan was to engage at the Chief of Defense level between neighbors. With direct access to the Iraqi Chief of Defense, OSC-I was perfectly positioned to use military diplomacy.
First and foremost, this effort was coordinated through and approved by both the U.S. Ambassador and the CENTCOM Commander. The coordination between the two leads for both the diplomacy and military instruments of national power already had a solid relationship OSC-I was able to benefit from.
Getting the process started was not as easy as a phone call. The military diplomacy process began by coordinating invitations through the Department of State and the Iraqi’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Additionally, CENTCOM was able to leverage its “power to convene” through its Commander at the time, General Joseph Votel. He and his staff served as the coordination link between the U.S. Embassy, OSC-I and the Iraqi Chief of Defense. Once coordinated, formal invitations were sent from the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs to their corresponding Ministries of Foreign Affairs in both Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Once the invitations were received, and confirmed by the Security Cooperation offices in both Jordan and Saudi Arabia, CENTCOM contacted both Chiefs of Defense to emphasize the importance of the upcoming meeting, and added the CENTCOM Commander would serve as the host.
The first result of this military diplomacy effort was a tri-lateral engagement in July 2017. The Chiefs of Defense of both Jordan and Saudi Arabia met with the Iraqi Chief of Defense in Baghdad. This initial meeting set the groundwork for future bi-lateral meetings between the Chiefs of Defense, and their respective staffs to improve communications and coordination between the neighboring countries. For OSC-I, this successful tri-lateral engagement demonstrated the power of military diplomacy when properly coordinated and supported by both Department of State and Department of Defense.
Another meeting rapidly followed, this time a bi-lateral between the Iraqi and Jordanian Chiefs of Defense. Discussion focused on the reopening of the Treybil border crossing between Iraq and Jordan. Closed during the Iraq War in 2003, the Treybil Highway served as a main trading route between Baghdad and Amman. A similar process occurred: coordination between embassies, the security cooperation offices and CENTCOM. Invitations were coordinated through the U.S. Embassy then the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The invitation went to the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and once the Security Cooperation office confirmed receipt, CENTCOM connected with the Jordanian Ministry of Defense to offer their support for the conference. A meeting soon followed. As a result of this meeting between the Jordanian and Iraqi Chiefs of Defense, staff working groups were established. Their work resulted in the Treybil border crossing reopened in August 2017, serving as a main trade route between the two nations and taking a major step towards normalizing relations.
Next, the Saudi Arabian and Iraqi Chiefs of Defense met in a bi-lateral engagement hosted by CENTCOM and coordinated by the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq. The result of this military diplomacy effort was the reopening of the Arar border crossing for the first time in 27 years. This key border crossing was closed in 1990 after the countries cut ties following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. The reopening assisted Iraqi religious pilgrims headed to Mecca during the Haj season. The governor of Anbar province, Sohaib al-Rawi said, “This is a great start for further future cooperation between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.” Again, coordination occurred between both U.S. embassies in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, between the Security Cooperation offices overseen by CENTCOM made this important military diplomacy success story a reality.
After the September 2017 Kurdish referendum, tensions between Iraq and Turkey were extremely high. Turkey moved additional forces to the Iraqi border in response to the Kurdish vote for independence. Conflicts flared up between Iraqi troops and Kurdish fighters. The need for military diplomacy was needed more than ever.
Again, through military diplomacy, a tri-lateral discussion between the Iraq, Turkey and the United States was set up. Senior leaders in attendance included European Commander, General Curtis Scaparrotti, Turkish Chief of Defense General Hulusi Akar, Iraqi Chief of Defense, General Othman al-Ghanimi and U.S. Central Command Commander General Joseph Votel. The meeting occurred in Ankara, Turkey on December 14, 2017. This was again coordinated across both U.S. embassies, and in this case, two Combatant Commands to make this example of military diplomacy occur.
The result of this meeting was the reopening of communications between the Turkish and Iraqi Chiefs of Defense. This was both extremely important and timely as Iraqi and Turkish troops faced off against one another on their border. The two Chiefs of Defense, shepherded by their U.S. combatant command counterparts, were able to meet face-to-face and reestablish a civil dialogue. The result was an increase in positive communications between the two military Chiefs and a reduction in tensions between the two neighboring militaries.
With a taste of success, the Iraqi Chief of Defense then asked through the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq to meet with his Kuwaiti counterpart, a meeting that had not happened between the two countries since the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Again, coordination between the Iraq and Kuwait embassies started the process. Invitations followed and the meeting was set up.
The meeting between the Kuwaiti Defense Minister and the Iraqi Chief of Defense occurred on January 23, 2018. U.S. Central Command Commander, General Votel hosted the historic meeting, helping to reopen the lines of communication between these two former enemies. The result was an agreement for both militaries to continue to work together and begin developing longer-term security cooperation arrangements, an important step to normalizing relationships between two former enemies. This and the other examples demonstrate what can be accomplished by military diplomacy when coordinated properly.
Key to these military diplomacy successes was ensuring the Department of State Chief of Mission was tied into all discussions and approved of these efforts. In Iraq, there were weekly video teleconferences between the CENTCOM Commander and the U.S. Ambassador where current issues were discussed. Prior to any visit to Iraq, the CENTCOM Commander coordinated with the Ambassador to better, understand the priorities of the Department of State, and ensure CENTCOM was on the same message as the Chief of Mission.
Combatant Commands also have the ability to host regional ambassador conferences, such as the one hosted in Qatar by CENTCOM on October 19, 2018. The conference included chiefs of defense from the Gulf Cooperation Council for the Arabian States of the Gulf Region Countries: Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia ad United Arab Emirates, as well as Jordan and Egypt. The respective U.S. Ambassadors from each country attended and the U.S. CENTCOM forward headquarters in Qatar was a perfect spot to host the meeting. These conferences are another great example of military diplomacy in action.
Principles of Military Diplomacy
The examples above highlight the capabilities of using military diplomacy to further the interests of a country, in these cases the United States. Based on the previous definition of military diplomacy and the actions of the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq, this article recommends four principles of Military Diplomacy.
First, the Chief of Mission/U.S. Ambassador/Chief Diplomat is in the lead. Within a host nation, it is the Chief of Mission responsible for all U.S. actions. Coordination through the Embassy is a necessity and must be paramount for any military diplomacy effort to be successful. Efforts at military diplomacy without this coordination at the highest levels will not only result in failure, but also sour the critical relationship between State and Defense elements on the ground.
Second, military diplomacy requires the support of the military. While this may sound like an obvious principle, military diplomacy requires elements of the Department of Defense to be involved, and to have something to offer. As mentioned earlier, Defense elements have a large toolkit to tap into. From traditional security cooperation efforts to hosting military to military engagements, military diplomacy requires the military. Militaries throughout the world have common experiences and shared languages. They are most adept at working with fellow militaries.
Third, any military diplomacy efforts must work through the host nation process. In the case of Iraq, invitations to bring in senior ranking military members from neighboring countries required an invitation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was the same for when the Iraqi Chief of Defense was invited to other nations: the inviting nation would send an invitation through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Iraqi MFA. These efforts took time, and sometimes resulted in frustration on the American side as invitations were lost, or caught up in bureaucracy. That being said, the U.S. State and military members were able to keep tabs on the status of the invitations and query to the status.
Fourth and finally, set small goals. Sometimes just having the two senior leaders meet is an accomplishment in itself. Many involved in military diplomacy expected rapid results from all the coordination efforts. However, this often is not the case. Goals are not often met in the first or second meeting of these senior leaders. However, as demonstrated above, sometimes just having those two senior military leaders meet results in positive press, increased dialogue and the thawing of long cold relationships.
When properly coordinated with the Chief of Mission, military diplomacy is an effective instrument of national power. The combatant commands have the leadership, the staff, and resources to enforce their “power to convene” utilizing military diplomacy. Bringing key military leadership from different nations together is one of the important components of military diplomacy. This is not limited to the United States. Recent tensions between North Macedonia and Greece were reduced by military diplomacy between the two nations. Most militaries have the capacity, with the support from their diplomatic branches, to successful utilize military diplomacy.
More studies and research needs to look at the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing military diplomacy to help the United States achieve its stated policy goals, especially as we move back into an era of great power competition. The use of military diplomacy as a hybrid instrument of national power for the United States has provided tangible achievements in achieving foreign policy goals in the past. It must continue to do so in the future.
Geopolitics and e-Diplomacy of Estonia
Around 1,500 BC, a group of nine asteroids crashed on the island of Saaremaa in Western Estonia, incinerating all kind of life-form within a radius of six kilometres and the native inhabitants who settled in this cold part of the world in 10,000 BC.
Located on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe, it is impossible to know who took over the Estonian lands after the crash, but we know for sure the new settlers have been under the rule of foreigners from the Russian Empire, the Teutonic Order, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union.
Because of the tormented past of the Estonian nation, it is impossible to tell if the contemporary citizens are more Nordic (Denmark, Sweden) and German (Teutonic) than Russian. Estonian identity is probably more of a spectrum with Saaremaa people having more ancestors coming from Sweden and Denmark compared to the people in Tartu who have been influenced by the Holy Roman Empire and the Teutonic Order. By contrast, the citizens in Ida-Viru County (Eastern Estonia) are “Russian with a twist”.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union and the recovered national autonomy, the Government of Estonia had to take political decisions following the geography and aspirations of most of its citizens to integrate the Euro-Atlantic society. Based on the past and the Nordic-Teutonic identity, the Government of Estonia embraced the idea of joining the European Union, NATO, and later on the Eurozone.
Both Germany and Austria (former parts of Holly Roman Empire) have recognized the Germanic background of the Estonian people when the Nordics – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Greenland and the Faroe Islands (Denmark) – have denied the Nordic identity of Estonia because of the Russian minority and various political reasons.
Moscow adopted an ambiguous relationship with Estonia when the Soviet troops became the Russian troops and stayed on the national territory between 1991-1994. As of today, the Estonian society is divided regarding the Soviet past, and some are calling the soviets “invaders” when others prefer to see them as “liberators”. Contrary Georgia (Abkhazia and South-Ossetia), Moldova (Transnistria), and Ukraine (Crimea and the Donbas), the Russian minority in the Ida-Viru County agrees on staying under the Estonian influence while remaining attached to Orthodoxy and Russian language.
From an economic perspective, Estonia is nowadays one of the most developed countries on the European continent with a nominal GDP of €29,800 per capita, HDI 0.87 (30th worldwide), and attractive to international businesses. The Estonian government also settled the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn and changed the country into one of the most digitalized society in the world with e-Governance and e-Residency.
With the current crisis going on in countries with Russian speaking monitories and the relevance of cyber-diplomacy in our societies, Estonia might be an example to follow when it comes to the good bilateral relationship with Moscow and the future of e-Governance.
Geopolitics of Estonia: Know your opponent (The Art of War, Sun Tzu)
The territory of Estonia consists of a mainland and 1,500 islands in the Baltic Sea covering a total of 45,227 km2 with a humid continental climate and 50 meters average elevation. In such a context, the highest mountain Suur Munamägi (318 meters) is the birthplace of many myths, and the flat land and islands make it easy for invaders to occupy the territory and settle outpost on the islands. Nowadays, Estonian lands are impossible to defend and any fighter jet can fly over the territory in a couple of hours.
Due to the Soviet past and American soft power in the country, the Government of Estonia established strong relationships with NATO during the ’90s and integrated the Alliance in 2004. However, it would be naïve to assume the Estonian Ministry of Defence relies exclusively on NATO’s recommendations to ensure the national safety, the key to Estonia’s successful and peaceful relationship with Russia coming from bilateral foreign relations between Tallinn and Moscow.
From David and Goliath to Baltic brothers: Estonia-Russia relationship after the Cold War
With only 1.3 million inhabitants – 68% Estonians, 24% Russians, 8% others, – the Estonian ethnicity almost disappeared during the Soviet times and still struggles to survive in a globalized world.
Contrary to many countries with an important diaspora, the Estonian identity could disappear in case of a conflict between NATO and Russia. Besides usual national matters, the Riigikogu (State assembly) is responsible for preserving the Estonian language – spoken only in Estonia, – and the History and traditions of the Estonian nation. This responsibility must be underlined because the threat of disappearing partly explains the reluctance to accept Russia as a state language. It also pushes the Riigikogu to pursue good governance and to provide high-level living condition and education to citizens, in order to avoid young Estonians moving and staying abroad. Demographics are the main concern of the Estonian leaders ahead of any hypothetical conflict with Russia.
When it comes to the relationship with Moscow, Tallinn has adopted a mixed strategy combining a pro-NATO/EU diplomacy and pragmatic bilateral relationship with Russia based on mutual understanding and shared interests in the Baltic Sea. Russia is often presented in the Estonian media to be the main threat to national security and NATO partners are afraid to see another Crimea crisis happening in eastern Estonia.
In such a context, the Kaitsevägi (Estonian Ministry of Defence) is welcoming NATO troops on the national territory, developed quality relations with nuclear powers (France, Great Britain, the United-States of America) and with non-NATO countries such as Sweden and Finland.
Should Russia (or anyone else) attack Estonia, the Riigikogu will immediately ask for the application of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty:
“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith”
However, article 5 does not take into consideration the principle of asymmetric warfare (e.g. support to an eventual separatist movement in eastern Estonia).
Theories and practice are two distinct things and some of the NATO member states might also be reluctant to attack a nuclear power. Finally, such reply will need the approval of all NATO member states and some have quality relationships with Moscow (e.g. Turkey) and not ready to risk the lives of soldiers for a country of 1.3 million inhabitants.
Estonian leaders are aware of NATO weaknesses and in order to avoid such conflict scenario by strengthening Estonian soft power in the eastern part of the country and are relying on bilateral cooperations with Moscow more than NATO infrastructures.
The Estonian education system has been the main asset to establish bilateral relationships with many academic programs related to Russia at the University of Tartu, the University of Tallinn, and the Baltic Defence College (military-oriented institution). Russian students are invited to study in Estonia, and the University of Tartu – a German-speaking university in the Russian Empire – is now welcoming Russian citizens. Last but not least, learning the Russian language is not a taboo like in the late ’90s and Russia is the third language (after Estonian and English) in libraries and considered to be an asset in the public administration.
Besides the academic world, Estonia is welcoming Russian entrepreneurs and tourists with a particular focus on Saint Petersburg. Estonia has changed in the past decade, and Tallinn is nowadays more of a destination like Helsinki with high-prices, hipster and vegan places, attracting high-tech Russian entrepreneurs interested in settling in the European Union. Looking at the past, the Bronze soldier event seems far away both in Estonian and Russian minds.
The Russian speaking minority in eastern Estonia can be considered to be a geopolitical asset nowadays. Contrary to Ukraine, the Estonian government became more tolerant following the integration in the European Union, even if some improvements must be done to recognize the Russian language at least in regional political institutions (e.g. like in Switzerland).
Russian speakers are enjoying higher salaries in Estonia compared to Russia and good infrastructure to visit their relatives on the other side of the border. Riigikogu and Kaitsevägi are divided when it comes to the approach to adopt regarding the Russian minority, despite the fact Kaitsevägi is following the recommendations of the Riigikogu. One the one hand, giving favourable living conditions to the minority in Estonia pushes them to stay in the country and can be a source of tensions with 24% of the population having a specific relationship to Russia. On the other hand, pushing the Russian minority to leave the country might create tensions with Russia and weaken the national economy. Overall, the national policy of Estonia is more of a “wait and see” when it comes to Russian speakers.
The reason why the Russian speaking minority is less often in the public debate is also due to the recent emigration of Ukrainian workers – 1.8% of the inhabitants in Estonia – and Finnish people coming to find a job and leaving Finland because of the Nokia crisis. Having a look at the current ethnic groups in Estonia, the next threat to Estonian identity might be foreigners from Southern Europe and Finland coming to settle in the country more than the Russian speaking minority.
Global warming is also a threat as people and companies from Southern Europe are interested in settling in Estonia to enjoy the almost unlimited water resources required in the agriculture and industrial sectors.
Nordics identity versus Estonian e-Civilization
Estonia is the missing piece in the Nordic history and the concept of Estonia as a Nordic nation was first introduced by Toomas Hendrik Ilves. The Viking Age, the Danish and Swedish Empires have played an important role in the construction of identity and Estonia would like to be recognized to be Nordic-based on the language (Finno-Ougrian), religion (10% Lutheran Christians) and the geographic location close to the Arctic circle. 53% of the Estonian youth consider belonging in the Nordic identity group and the President of Estonia prefers to used the expression of “Nordic Benelux”. At the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Investment Agency are advertising the Nordic identity of Estonia abroad.
The lack of recognition by the Nordics is mostly due to the German past (Teutonic Order) and the Soviet past, the Russian minority – 24% of the citizens, – the number of Orthodox Christians – 17% of the population, – and the lack of cooperation with other Nordic countries during the Cold War.
Due to the quality of High-Tech and Cyber-defence infrastructures in Estonia, the lack of recognition is diminishing the Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) expertise when it comes to cyber-defence.
Moreover, the wish of recognition by the Nordics has pushed Tallinn to adopt a stereotypical policy to be recognized as such. The proposal of a new national cross flag as early as 1918 is still supported in some political spheres, while renewable energies, good governance, e-Governance have developed more than in any other country in the European Union.
The Nordic policy implemented by Tallinn has considerable effects on the “Baltic Tiger” with a GDP increase of around 4% per year and GDP per capita of 12,100 euros in 2010 versus 29,800 euros in 2018. Paradoxically, the Nordic policy of Estonia makes it even more competitive than the Nordics themselves, and Tallinn ranks 3rd in the Business Bribery Risk Index in front of Denmark. The same goes for the energy sector and renewables have grown to over 13% of production whereas they were less than 1% in 2000. As such Estonia is one of the countries to have reached its EU renewable target for 2020 already.
Overall, Nordic countries can emphasis the fact Estonian GDP if lacking behind. Nonetheless, Estonia has an overall unemployment rate of around 4,5% – 7% in Finland and 7.5% in Sweden – and provided job opportunities to Finnish citizens after the Nokia crisis.
Nowadays, 0,6% of the whole Estonian population is coming from Finland, and start-ups from other Nordic countries are settling in Estonia leading to an increasing demand for employees speaking Nordic languages. According to the Centre d’Études Prospectives et d’Informations Internationales projections, the GDP per capita could rise by 2025 to the level of the Finnish economy. Following the same projections, by 2050, Estonia could become the most productive country in the European Union, after Luxembourg, and thus join the top five most productive nations in the world.
The relationship with Nordic countries is a major issue in Tallinn because the national public policy has been based on the Nordic model since the end of the Cold War. In such a context, Estonian identity might have to re-invent itself if the Nordic model is outperformed in the future, which is already the case when it comes to e-Governance and Cyber-diplomacy.
Estonia is at the intersection of the Nordic, Russian, and German (Teutonic Order and Baltic Germans) identities. To the Estonian people, the land is not as important as language and culture, which explains why the concept of e-Governance is nowadays widely developed.
Estonian people have embraced the idea Estonia is not the land but the people, and the diaspora in Finland, Canada, and the United-States of America remains to participate in the political and economic life of Estonia. A typical Estonian citizen living abroad for decades can vote online during the election, pay taxes and register a company without coming to Estonia, read the local news online, and graduate from higher education not showing to the university.
e-Governance and e-Identity are not the only aspects of Estonian uniqueness, and besides the Estonian language, the neopaganism (Estonian native faith) plays an increasing role in society. Taaraism was founded in 1928 by members of the intelligentsia to reaffirm traditional Estonian culture and identity. Viewing Christianity as a universal and foreign religion brought by the Germans, they turned to indigenous religion with its many deities. Taaraists hold a monotheistic worldview in which all the gods are aspects of one only pantheistic reality, which they identify with the god Taara (a deity connected to Indo-European deities such as the Germanic Thunor, the Gallic Taranis, and the Hittite Tarhunt).
Based on the Montevideo convention signed in 1993, Estonia does not belong to the Russian, German, or Nordic worlds and could be recognized for its uniqueness. Moreover, if we focus on the definition of civilizations “the stage of human social and cultural development and organization that is considered most advanced” Estonia can be seen like the first e-Society or e-Civilization (according to the contemporary definition of civilization) based on the accomplishments in the field of e-Governance and cyber-diplomacy in the past two decades.
The three slim blue lions and the conquest of cyberspace
The History of e-Diplomacy in Estonia starts in 1965 with the first school computer in the USSR, when Ural-1 was set up in the town of Nõo in Tartu County. Mass usage of computing networks first came with FidoNet, the first Estonian node of which appeared in 1989 and the first internet connections where introduced in 1992 at the University of Tartu and the University of Tallinn. As early as 1996, the Estonian President started a four-year program Tiigrihüpe to computerized the schools.
In 2005, Estonia introduced a digital ID card system and local elections were held with the possibility to vote online, becoming the first country worldwide to offer such an option. In 2008, NATO established a joint cyber-defence centre in Estonia to improve cyber-defence interoperability and provide security support to all NATO member states.
Nowadays, 99% of the services in Estonia are online, 98% of the citizens have a digital ID-card, and 47% are using internet voting. The Estonian government introduced e-Tax (2000), i-Voting (2005), Blockchain (2008), e-Health (2008), e-Residency (2014), increasing the technological gap between Tallin and NATO/EU partners relying on paper and materialized public services. In Estonia, patients own their health data and hospitals have made this available online since 2008.
Today, over 95% of the data generated by hospitals and doctors have been digitized, and blockchain technology is used for assuring the integrity of stored electronic medical records as well as system access. e-Health solutions are allowing Estonia to offer more efficient preventative measures, increasing the awareness of patients and also saving millions of euros. Each person in Estonia that has visited a doctor in medicine has his or her online e-Health record, containing their medical case notes, test results, digital prescriptions, and X-rays, as well as full log-file tracking access to the data. The banking system has already dematerialized with less and less physical banks and cashless society is a reality to many Estonians for almost a decade.
Ongoing projects are the Data embassy which makes it possible to the Estonian administration to continue operating even if local data centres have been stopped or disturbed due to natural disaster, large-scale cyber-attack, power failure or anything else. Cross border data exchanges, healthcare 4.0, digital transformation in education (by 2020, all study materials in Estonia will be digitized and available through an online e-schoolbag) are a few of the current innovations.
In the future, some Estonian embassies should be fully replaced by the online system doing the work of physical embassies, the same for any state institution. State employees will be able to perform the usual work from anywhere in the world.
As of today, Estonia is the country with the lowest GDP debt in the European Union (8.4% in 2019) and with digitalization is the first nation to save a large amount of paper and time in the administration, diplomatic services are provided immediately without any need for people to move, and e-Services are going hand in hand with savings for the government.
However, the concept of e-Society is challenging to Estonian identity. In such a context of digitalization, nobody knows if Estonian identity will be defined by blood, language, religion, passport, or anything else in the future.
From our partner RIAC
The Role of Political Psychology in Diplomacy
Political psychology originated from France, which was first introduced by the ethnologist Adolph Bastian in his book called “Man in History” (1860). This field has grown significantly following the publication of the first edition of the Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology in 2003. Political psychology, with a pragmatic (utilitarian) outlook, is to serve as a psychological window in politics and diplomats serving in this area and to enhance success in politics and diplomacy. The approach of political psychology to problems is based on the foundation of analytical psychology, with an integrated approach. For this reason, with a few subjects, it tries to present the perspective of history in an integrated approach. It also envisages the analysis of psychological processes determining political behavior and of the process by which political actions have an impact on the psychological reactions of different political leaders, individuals, and groups.
From this point of view, when analyzing the research, political psychology has been selected to determine the specific political behaviors and characteristics of the political leaders, which are the key to the research. So that political psychology is a science that learns politics, politicians, political leaders, and their political behaviors and in particular, their focal characteristics such as character, identity, reaction, and influence on any situation. Political psychology is neither a science of psychology, nor political sciences, but rather focuses on the studying the political aspects of human psychology.
In this interdisciplinary field, identities, morals, behaviors, motives, judgments, integrity, and managerial styles of political leaders are also taken into account. Political psychology analyzes what is happening around the environment, how the environment affects the behavior, actions and political decisions of political leaders. According to Levy, psychology has a huge impact on foreign policy behaviors and stances of state leaders and other individuals primarily through its interaction with definite aspects of the international system, national governments, and distinct societies.
The study of personality in political psychology emphases on the effects of leadership on personality and decision-making process. Political psychology refers to the behavior of individuals within a particular political system. Psychology itself cannot be able to explain the Holocaust, the tragic conflicts, the behavior of the war or other states, or the collective political actors in a complex environment. From this point of view, inter-state, inter-ethnic relations and contacts between political leaders can be explained through the interaction between psychology and politics.
To sum up, the political psychology will be able to investigate state leaders’ political attitudes, and behaviors determining their influence within the society, the decision-making process, their similarities and different behavioral aspects, as well as their political characteristics.
Personality and Psychodynamics theory in political psychology
The personality and psychodynamics theory was initially introduced by Ernst von Brücke, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, and Melanie Klein. Amid the course of the 140s and into the 1950s, the general presentation of this theory had been well set up. The famous psychologist Mardi J. Horowitz in his 1988 book titled “Introduction to psychodynamics – A New Synthesis” referred to the fascinating ideas and thoughts of Ralph Greenson who has been popular local psychoanalyst and vividly described his ideas that neurotic behavior and unconscious mental processes are mainly linked to the psychodynamic theory, which shows itself in everyday life. The psychodynamic theory of personality mainly involves the popular philosophers namely Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson, and Alfred Adler.
Psychodynamic is a systematic research and theory of psychological forces based on human behavior. It emphasizes the interaction between unconscious and conscious motivation. The concept of “psychodynamics” was developed by Sigmund Freud, who claimed that psychological processes and psychological energy flowed in a mere brain and created psychodynamics based on psychological energy and that it was called libido. Sigmund Freud had a great experience on early political psychologists because his psychoanalysis of specific persons advanced itself well to the analysis of the personalities of specific political leaders.
The term “psychodynamic” refers to the individual aspects of identity: the struggle between instinct, thinking, and consciousness. Thus, the main task of psychoanalysis is to explain the conflict situation that is unavoidable to the customer’s unhealthy behavior. In “Little Hans’s History” by Sigmund Freud the author laid the foundation for the use of psychoanalysis when dealing with different aged children. The psychodynamic model also helps to deal with the challenges of personality development and the challenges facing this development. It also helps us to deal with bigger problems.
Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis considers most of the mind to be sensitive and describes how past experiences, especially how a person feels and behaves during his early childhood. This kind of approach tells us what kind of psychology he or she will have in the future. Psychodynamics is important in determining the nature, behavior, and attitude of a person. The theory is chosen from this point of view as a successful concept. Sigmund Freud divided human consciousness into three levels of distinction: conscious, preconscious, and unconscious. Each of these levels coincides with Freud’s id, ego, and superego ideas. From the conscious level, things that we are aware of are composed of things surrounding us. According to preconscious, we are conscious of where we are willing and even where there are many memories for ease. For the unconscious approach, it reflects the actions, desires, and memories that are beyond the scope of consciousness, which we are not aware of them .
According to Psychodynamic theory of Freud, personality development is accompanied by various stages and ends at an individual age of five. Therefore, Freud created dynamic psychology. It explores energy transformation and energy exchange within the identity. Freud looked at the constant energy or energy storage of the human system, and it is powered by Id, Ego, and Superego. The theory of psychodynamics determines whether a human being is growing in personality, possesses autonomy, or authoritarian or liberal character.
The theory of psychodynamics is the focal determinant of identity. Therefore, Freud has worked extensively in this area to describe the identity model. Finally, he has created a model that combines these three basic structures and has a dynamic relationship with each other: Id, Ego, and Superego. In the psychodynamic model of Freud, man’s appearance is related to his psychological determinism, and there is one reason for his behavior, his thoughts, his emotions, his actions, and his symptoms.
According to Sigmund Freud, the individual’s personality and behavior are shaped during his or her lifespan. The personality and psychodynamics theory is often referred to by social workers to determine human personality and his or her behavioral characteristics. However, we have come up with a different view of personality and psychodynamics at this time, and have used it to identify the behavior and political characteristics of state leaders. Hence, the personality and psychodynamics theory are characteristic examples of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make people unique. It is a unique model of psychological and behavioral attributes that everyone can distinguish from other people. From this point of view, the personality and psychodynamics theory is the basis for studying political psychology.
 Lisa A. Zanetti and Adrian N. Carr, (1988). “Exploring the Psychodynamics of Political Change”, Administrative Theory & Praxis, pp. 358-376
When Trump gets it right
President Trump is criticized for many things but his choice of a US Ambassador to Bulgaria should not be among them. He got that right and he deserves credit for it.
The new US Ambassador to Bulgaria, Herro Mustafa speaks nine languages and to someone with seven languages like myself that is massively impressive. She is currently learning Bulgarian, which will be her tenth language. How many US officials like that do you know?
Mustafa grew up with an intellectual role model in North Dakota. Her father was an investigative reporter, so in Bulgaria she wishes to champion media freedom, and for a reason. For that, she has met local Bulgarian support and is already making friends.
The Ambassador’s background and experience in Middle East politics acquired while she served in the Office of the Vice President, the Afghanistan Office, the Office of the Under-Secretary for Political Affairs and at the National Security Council, in addition to her diplomatic postings to Iraq, Greece and Lebanon, prepare her for her role in Bulgaria which is somewhat special when it comes to Middle East politics.
Bulgaria is not actively diplomatically involved in conflict resolution but nevertheless is strategically positioned as the EU external border country that is closest to the Middle East. The return of some ISIS fighters with EU passports from Middle East terrorism hot-beds will necessarily pass through Bulgaria as a gateway to the EU. And President Trump has been adamant that European nations with ISIS fighters need to take responsibility for them. What happens to ISIS fighters when they enter the EU for the first time – possibly in Bulgaria – is a key question. In this sense, Bulgaria’s function and the role of the US Ambassador will be key.
This was my first thought when I saw Ambassador Mustafa’s experience. It seems like Mr. Trump appreciated Bulgaria’s strategic role when appointing to the country exactly her.
Of course, apart from the hot-button issues there is a lot to be said about energy security and cooperation between the US and Bulgaria. Judging from her first meetings here, energy security will be a priority area for the Ambassador.
The US Embassy in Sofia has been traditionally involved in the area of cultural and educational exchange. And that is something that is appreciated by many local Bulgarians who have benefited from language programs, and not only.
It remains to be seen what Ambassador Mustafa’s long-term contribution will be to US-Bulgarian relations. She and her family with two young children are still settling in.
From first impressions though, it seems like Donald Trump made the right decision.
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