by Megan Erickson
August 1, 2011
“We’ve been lulled into this complacency in the last couple of
hundred years that you’re only practicing diplomacy if you’re
from a government
or a foreign ministry.
That is not at all the
What's the Big Idea?
If you still think of diplomacy as something that happens in smoky
backrooms, it's hard to envision a world in which "the second oldest
profession” can coexist with the transparency created by the Internet.
The belief that foreign affairs must be shrouded
in a protective veil of secrecy has long meant that advancements in
information technology are met with anxiety by the international relations
Such hand-wringing is misguided, says Big Think Fellow
Parag Khanna, a
former U.S. foreign policy adviser and author of
How to Run The World -
Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance.
Just as the telegraph did not put
an end to diplomacy, neither will
Wikileaks. The lingering power alignments
of the 20th century may or may not be destroyed by the overwhelming trend
But they will be democratized.
Khanna predicts that in the future, the real superpowers aren’t going to be
Instead, we'll see the emergence of an entirely new structure:
alliances comprised of universities, companies, non-profits, humanitarian
agencies, sub-state units like city governments, and churches, all united
around a common interest or vision.
Policy wonks who race to predict whether
it will be
Brazil that finally unseats the U.S. as the
dominant world power are missing the point.
Community organizations and
NGOs are already hugely important players in
Mega-diplomacy would mean bringing individual groups
together - forging new coalitions among,
"the .gov world, the .com world,
the .org world, and the .edu world... so it’s not just about
the United Nations" or
the G20, but about building a consensus across a broad range of
These coalitions will ultimately supplant nation-states as the
primary actors on the world stage, says Khanna.
And while they must govern
globally, they should act locally.
“The force that I'm arguing for is what I call human will. Why do we wait
for the UN Security Council to pass a resolution to allow for there to be an
intervention in Darfur for example to prevent the genocide there? There is a
local organization, a regional body called the African Union. It has its own
The best way to get things done is to,
people who can actually seize their own future."
If mega-diplomacy is used intelligently,
"we’ll be pushing global resources
to the local level," and skillful negotiation will become increasingly
vital. "That is going to get us much closer to the kind of world we want to