Globalization, Enterprise and Governance: Twentieth Anniversary Re-release – Part II

Inclusion for consumers

 
At the international level, and notwithstanding the occasional recourse to coercive force, guns will
remain a last resort. Globalization’s most obvious, and possibly most powerful, milieu is cultural,
manifest through technology, popular entertainment, and the media. The Internet is at the leading
edge of the current wave, but with the satellite-enhanced penetration of television and the spread
of VCRs and video rentals, an international community united by similar tastes and appetites has
been in formation for some time. At the most fundamental level what is most remarkable about all
of these media is that they share a look, a feel, and an ambiance which derive from common
production values.

 
In the early 1980s, filmmaker David Cronenberg probed the assertion that ’video is the retina of
the mind’s eye.’ His vision was disturbing, and since then the scale and intensity of electronic
homogenization has grown. We should ask: what kind of culture is being created, what kind of
norms are being imparted as a result of constant saturation by the latest in broadcast and
information technology? To a large extent the values transmitted are those associated with the
uninhibited pursuit of self-interest. What are the implications for democracy when in the United
States 43 million more people watched the Superbowl than voted in the last presidential election?

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Globalization, Enterprise and Governance: Twentieth Anniversary Re-release – Part I

Blogger’s Note. Reflecting upon the latest “long read” published this week in the Guardian – an absorbing piece by Nikil Saval entitled “Globalisation: the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world” – I was rather jarringly reminded of something I wrote back in the nineties.  What strikes me about this vintage analysis, published in the International Journal (53:1, Winter 1997, pp 17-37), is just how little the debate has advanced over the intervening two decades. It seems that virtually nothing has been learned, and even less done in response to this longstanding critique. Why?  As a contribution to everyone’s summertime reading, I have decided to re-release the original in five easy pieces, and, with apologies for the curious formatting, I would very much welcome reader commentary.

 

Globalization is about borderless nations, stateless firms, infirm states, and a new frontier –
without frontiers. That’s the Reader’s Digest version, popular with cocktail party cognoscenti
and among those who imagine themselves, someday, attending the World Economic Forum in
Davos, Switzerland. Globalization is emerging as the defining historical phenomenon of our
times, transforming structures and conditioning outcomes across an expansive range of endeavour.
It is a work in progress, a new order under construction, an expression of power relationships.
Given the relentless diffusion of the mass media and entertainment industries and rising levels of
trade and international investment, travel and immigration, education and communications, it
seems likely that more of the same is in train. Loved or loathed, globalization can be resisted, but
it can’t be ignored.

Simply put, globalization is working at the supranational level to create a single world society.
This is possible because fundamental change – greater interdependence and technological capacity;
increased mobility of most factors of production; higher levels of market integration and
liberalization; and deregulation, privatization, and a reduced role for government – has reshaped
the world economy.

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The Dark Nexus: Diplomacy, Sport, Politics and the Media

These are disturbing, even bewildering times.

We appear to have entered a post-empirical era in which ideology, emotion, conviction and dissembling have displaced evidence, fact and truth in public life, policy development and decision-making.

Special interests have trumped the public interest.

Amid the current blizzard of startling developments in national and global affairs, it is altogether too easy to retreat and recoil, and to focus instead on issues much closer to the front door.

That would be a mistake, particularly if  that preoccupation includes spending time on Facebook and other social media, which we now know to be implicated in a swathe of efforts to manipulate user behavior.

As an alternative, why not limber up and stretch our minds a bit in the analytical gym?

Think, for instance, of the relationships among these distinct fields of professional practice: diplomacy, sport, politics and the media. At first glance, given the amplitude of such divergent topics, this task might seem a rather daunting, even ungainly enterprise. Upon closer inspection, however, I would suggest that there exist not only significant parallels among and between these strange bedfellows, but also some intriguing paradoxes and potentially consequential pitfalls.

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Seven Obstacles to a Science Diplomacy Renaissance – Part III

Make no mistake.

Data is of little use in the absence of interpretation, and there exists a desperate need for guides, brokers and translators who can bridge the two solitudes. Overcoming these challenges will not be easy, not least with the ascension of a regressive Trump administration in the USA. Yet, absent radically improved performance, there is a growing likelihood that humanity will arrive, at some indeterminate, but not too distant point in the future, at a global tipping point beyond which recovery may be impossible.

Finding ways to manage the “Malignificent Seven” – a sleeper issue of enormous consequence – should be one of the central political and public policy objectives of our times.  But instead, the lion’s share of resources still flow to the military; the US Government, for example, spends more on defence R&D than all other types of research combined. In the mainstream, consideration of SD is next to invisible, displaced by infotainment spectacles, fake news, “alternative facts” and more proximate concerns such as employment, housing, education and health care.

Still, before readers get too depressed… the situation is not entirely bleak. Science diplomacy has produced a rich legacy of arms control and environmental agreements, including recent pacts to establish an Antarctic marine reserve and to control HFCs, and significant disarmament initiatives affecting Iran  (nuclear non-proliferation) and Syria  (chemical weapons).

The general intensity of SD-related activity has increased significantly in recent months, with meetings in LondonBrussels, Vienna, Berlin and Ottawa.  All seventeen of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals contain major S&T components. Courses are cropping up at US institutions, including Tufts, The Rockefeller University and NYU.

Some specialized agencies (UN, EU) and governments (US, UK, Switzerland, Spain, Japan,  Korea,  and NZ) have demonstrated a number of best practices in SD. New Zealand’s Chief Science Advisor, Peter Gluckman, has worked tirelessly to establish an International Network of Government Science Advice (INGSA), while NGOs such as TWAS have significantly deepened their engagement. Vaughan Turekian, the Science and Technology Advisor at the US State Department and former head of the AAAS’ Science and Diplomacy program, has launched a raft of innovative initiatives. The SESAME Synchrotron project in Jordan is co-managed by a group of countries not known for their habits of cooperation – Palestine, Israel, Turkey and Cyprus, among others.

That said, these examples represent the exceptions rather than the rule; even taken together they are not nearly enough to change the big picture. Indeed, there have lately been some especially unwelcome setbacks (e.g. Russia ) and much remains to be done. 

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Seven Obstacles to a Science Diplomacy Renaissance – Part II

Science diplomacy  (SD), a specialized sub-set of public diplomacy, is a transformative tool of soft power which combines the political agency of diplomacy with the evidence-based, technologically-enabled problem-solving methodology of science. Unique among non-violent international policy options, SD can play a key role in advancing the cause of peace and prosperity, security and development in an increasingly unstable world. In face of the negative attributes of globalizationSD  offers the prospect of engaging shared interests to overcome political constraints and enlarge international cooperation. The universal, non-ideological language of science is especially valuable when regular channels of political and diplomatic communication are strained or unavailable, for instance during periods of protracted international tension. In the rising heteropolis – a work in progress in which the vectors of power and influence are characterized more by difference than by similarity – SD is under-utilized and under-valued, but nonetheless essential.

Notwithstanding conventional convictions and the present spike in the incidence of armed conflict, there are no military solutions to the world’s most pressing problems – a new threat set comprised of S&T-driven transnational issues.  No amount of spending on defence will resolve the challenges of food and water insecurity, environmental collapse, drought, desertification or soil degradation, habitat destruction or environmental collapse. Indeed, it will almost certainly intensify them. Security is much more than a martial art; it is rooted in broadly-based, long term, human-centred and sustainable development. The search for innovative approaches to treating the security/development nexus should become the priority of both diplomacy and international policy, and SD offers a promising way in.

But, here’s the rub.  If SD is what the world needs now, and is indispensible in addressing global issues which are immune to the application of armed force, why are most international institutions so ill-equipped to deliver? Why is SD so marginalized and obscure?

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Saving scientists amid crisis

Blogger’s note. Readers may be interested in reviewing the following account  – just released – of an address that I made at a conference on “Refugee Scientists: Transnational Resources”,  March 16th, 2017 at TWAS in Trieste, Italy. I will return to the series on the obstacles to a science diplomacy renaissance in the next entry.

Can we tap the skills of refugee scientists to benefit their new countries – and, someday, to rebuild their home countries? It’s an appealing idea, but it will take intensive science diplomacy, says Canadian foreign affairs expert Daryl Copeland.

Historical forces and resource-driven conflicts are in collision over much of the globe, and as a result, millions of people are on the move as migrants or refugees – including uncounted thousands of researchers, doctors and advanced students. But in the view of Daryl Copeland, an author and veteran diplomat, the world may be ill-prepared to recognize them and put their skills to work.

In the keynote talk at a workshop on refugee and at-risk scientists co-sponsored by TWAS, Copeland surveyed the policy and diplomatic landscape affecting refugee scientists as they try to integrate into new nations in the Middle East, in Europe and beyond.

Daryl Copeland at the 2017 workshop “Refugee Scientists: Transnational Resources”Programmes to support the refugee scientists are few and fragmented, with great inconsistency between the host countries, he said. There is no consistent effort to identify them and to assess their skills. There are no platforms where they can come together. Research on these issues is scant.

“National governments and international organizations, and to a lesser extent civil society, business and universities, are best positioned to facilitate action and collaboration,” Copeland said, “but they face a knowledge and information gap.”

His conclusion: “The problem of how best to harness the untapped potential resource of diaspora and refugee scientists as a tool for advancing the goals of international policy and relations falls squarely within the province of science diplomacy.” Such diplomacy must bring stakeholders and governments together in the interests of effective solutions.

[See the full text of Daryl Copeland’s keynote remarks.]

Copeland spoke on 15 March 2017 during the workshop “Refugee Scientists: Transnational Resources”. The weeklong workshop in Trieste, Italy, convened some 50 high-level policymakers, science leaders, refugee programme administrators, along with refugee scientists. It is co-organised by Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale (OGS), based in Trieste, Italy, and Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI), based in Piran, Slovenia. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) provided key support.

Copeland served as a Canadian diplomat from 1981-2011, posted to Thailand, Ethiopia, New Zealand and Malaysia. Today he is a senior fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and policy fellow at the University of Montreal’s Centre for International Studies and Research. His book, Guerrilla Diplomacy: Rethinking International Relations, was released in 2009.

In setting the context for his talk, Copeland described how the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s created dramatic new possibilities for human movement and migration. In the 21st century, migration has been driven also by a wave of wars and conflicts, especially in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that by the end of 2015, more than 65 million people globally had been displaced, with 21.3 million of them registered refugees and 3.2 million asylum seekers. Of the total, 40.8 million people have been displaced within their own countries.

But in the midst of an historic exodus from the Middle East and North Africa, Copeland noted that new obstacles – such as the proposed US restrictions on migrants from some Muslim-majority countries – are rising to limit migration once again.

Already, uncounted thousands of migrant scientists, medical doctors and others in related fields have come from the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region to adjacent nations, and to Europe and North America. They represent a significant potential resource for science – and for science diplomacy – in both their home nations and their new nations, he said.

“How might these communities of expatriate expertise be tapped to help address development and security challenges in their countries of origin and to hasten the advance of peaceful, prosperous international relations across the board?” he asked. “Can the collective knowledge, cultural understanding, and linguistic capacities of the [displaced scientists] … be harnessed and mobilized to produce win/win outcomes for the mutual benefit of both home and host governments?”

“Perhaps,” he says, “but not easily.”

In his remarks, Copeland proposed that science diplomacy should have a central role. It can help to facilitate the movement and integration of refugee scientists. And, he said, diplomacy can help the scientists to address challenges both in their home countries and in their new countries.

But, he argued, global capacity in science diplomacy is presently limited. He explored a number of factors that currently constrain the diplomacy: military spending gets a disproportionate share of funding, for example, and political leaders often have a mistrust for both diplomats and scientists.

And yet, Copeland concluded, science diplomacy has an admirable record of success in the fields of arms control and environmental protection. And it can be developed into a valuable tool on issues of migration ­– for scientists, and for all people.

“Both science and diplomacy seek to use reason to bring order and understanding to their otherwise roiling and disorderly realms,” he said. “Perhaps that is a basis for better collaboration in the future.”

[Learn more about the 2017 workshop “Refugee Scientists: Transnational Resources.”]

Edward W. Lempinen

It won’t come easy: Seven obstacles to a science diplomacy renaissance – Part I

There is a question which should be on everyone’s mind, but isn’t.

Is the world careening towards some unknowable — but not too far distant — tipping point beyond which remedial solutions and recovery will be impossible?

Perhaps.

Consider, for instance, these vexing challenges, any one of which could take down the planet if allowed to fester:
• Climate change;
• Diminishing biodiversity;
• Public health and pandemics;
• Species extinction and habitat destruction;
• Management of the global commons; and
• Emergency preparedness and disaster response.
This is a small but representative sampling drawn from the ever-expanding list of global issues which share as a defining characteristic the centrality of a major science and technology (S&T) dimension. The urgent need for effective action is clear, and science diplomacy (SD) is the international policy instrument best suited to treating these wicked problems. Unfortunately, the demand for science diplomacy far outstrips the available supply.

How can this capacity gap be explained?

What lies behind the SD shortage?

I propose to address those questions by summarizing the concept of science diplomacy and presenting the arguments in favour of governments and international organizations undertaking more and better SD practice. The balance of the analysis will focus on identifying and elaborating the constraints which are inhibiting progress. That troubling combination of factors — the “Malignificent Seven”? — must be better understood and effectively broached if performance is to improve.

A summary assessment will begin in the next post.

What Might Have Been: Reflections on Afghanistan

“Afghanistan’s barren, ragged desolation moaned a long dirge of ancient wonder, the earth’s broken features ready to receive fallen horsemen, the lost traveller, and all the butchered tribes.”

Zia Haider Rahman, In Light of What We Know

 

I don’t usually post my thoughts on recently released books, but in the case my close friend Chris Lowry’s richly textured photographic retrospective, Afghanistan: Before the Rain of Fire, an exception is clearly warranted.

Why?

I would describe this book as dazzling.

Evocative.

Disturbing.

But most of all,  as befits a project which has been incubating for forty years, these pages are deeply moving.

This is no ordinary travel book. With the sensibility – and sensitivity – of Rory Stewart’s The Places In Between, Lowry’s striking images are interspersed with sparse, but illuminating text. Through observation and anecdote the author captures a country on the verge of a wrenching descent into violent disintegration.  Torn asunder as the object of geopolitical rivalry between the superpowers, only to emerge as the epicentre of what came to be known as the Global War on Terror, Afghanistan has today become a tragic case study in blowback.

Lowry reminds us that Afghanistan was once an exotic and enticing destination, and Kabul a crossroads of civilizations. His book is a treasury of memory. It provides essential testament to the existence of alternative possibilities, and underscores the terrible cost of empires and ideologies in collision.

Left to its own devices, Afghanistan might well have developed into a diverse and dynamic nexus, something much more than a political football in the latest installment of the Great Game.

As author and analyst Robert Fisk once famously remarked, “The only thing we ever learn is that we never learn…”

Afghanistan remains a festering sore on the flesh of the international body politic, and there is blood on many hands.

By poignantly and powerfully illustrating  what might have been, Lowry has admirably performed a noble service.

Lest we forget.

 

Dealing with The Donald: Advice for Canada’s new Foreign Minister

The Trump ascendancy carries with it much anxiety and uncertainty, but of this we may be confident – on 20 January, under dark skies, the world collectively entered terra incognita.

PM Justin Trudeau is meeting with his cabinet in Calgary this week to assess options, and has tried to act pre-emptively by shuffling his cabinet.  Liberal Party stalwart Stephane Dion was abruptly replaced by the celebrated and cosmopolitan Chrystia Freeland.

A study in contrasts

This was not unexpected. As Foreign Minister, Dion was engaged and knowledgeable, but emotionally tone deaf and intellectually rigid. He delved deeply into issues, read his briefs, and wrote many of his own speeches, but was not at ease as a communicator. He lacked an integrated policy agenda and as a result seemed locked perpetually in reactive mode. Unlike the more easily defined, tractable issues which he had previously mastered – climate change (Kyoto Accord, Green Shift) or the constitution (Clarity Act) – at Global Affairs Canada (GAC) he was unable to find his footing or leave his mark.  Some files – Saudi military sales, human rights, arms control and disarmament, non-proliferation – were seriously mishandled. And his would-be ideological centre-piece, “Responsible Conviction”, was both obscure and never joined-up to a concrete plan similar to Lloyd Axworthy’s Human Security Agenda.   Adapted from the work of Prussian sociologist and philosopher Max Weber, such a maxim undoubtedly appealed to Dion’s academic and bookish bent. But it was way over the top in Ottawa and stillborn politically.

Enter urban sophisticate Chrystia Freeland, an accomplished author, public speaker and journalist, at home in Davos and well-connected in major capitals. She is acutely attuned to the neoliberal political economy of globalization, and to the over-arching importance of addressing its downside  – distributive  inequality and intensified  polarization. Although her fit with the prevailing mindset in Washington is not natural, concern over the fate of the shrinking middle class may provide common ground for discussions with her US interlocutors. Moreover, given the preponderance of former military figures in Trump’s cabinet, the  naming former Lieutenant General Andrew Leslie as her Parliamentary Secretary, with special responsibility for Canada-US relations, appears inspired.

The 3Cs: Preparing for the Trump transformation

In this volatile, unpredictable and complex operating environment, the Freeland appointment may have been a necessary response to the incoming Trump administration, but it will not be sufficient. In terms of action, how might Canada’s new Foreign Minister best minimize risk, manage vulnerabilities and maximize opportunity?

Not easily. There are at least three major issue areas which require major work.

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