WHY U.S. DIPLOMACY HAS FAILED AND HOW TO FIX IT

Image Source: Humanrights.gov

By: Shahab Moghadam

One of the most important and basic lessons of diplomacy is that there are no isolated events in international politics, that all events are interrelated, that what happens militarily in Eastern Europe is intricately related to and deeply affects tensions in the South China Sea, and that both of those events are tied in with economic development in sub-Saharan Africa and peace talks in the Middle East.

Indeed, the United States has repeatedly failed to anticipate important global events, including the September 11th attacks, the Russian invasion of Georgia, and even the Arab Spring, causing the leaders of the world’s most powerful democracy to be caught by surprise when major political changes occur, which is due to the failure by most American Administrations to put together the puzzle pieces spread out over the entirety of the globe, which when taken together cause many of history’s most transformational events.

Moving forward, with Russia seeming to prepare for an invasion of Eastern Ukraine and tensions remaining high on the South China Sea, with the bloodshed in Syria continuing unabated and peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians nearing collapse, it is of the essence that the United States realize that if it is to continue to exercise a meaningful and relevant role in global politics, it must adhere to the basic rules of diplomacy, starting with an understanding and utilization of the fact that all global political, social, and economic events are interrelated and will only become more so as technological advancements reach the most remote parts of the world.

With mobile phones and computers changing the playing field in even the most remote parts of the world and global tensions escalating uncontrollably, the United States must step up to reassert itself as a global player in a manner that will be constructive and meaningful, but such a move is impossible until or unless Washington learns to not only anticipate global political events but to dictate the terms of those events. We can no longer be in the dark about revolutions until millions pour onto the streets even though social media outlets were abuzz for days before that, we can no longer fail to interpret the subtle yet distinct signs which indicate military activity by our Russian and Chinese rivals, and we can no longer fail to see the truth behind the rhetoric in developing parts of the world where the risks of genocide and other man-made tragedies remain incredibly real on a daily basis.

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