Topic: Diplomatic Tools

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Blog post included here have used #Diplomatic Tools in their title

I’ve been reading a prominent French social anthropologist, Alain TESTART. His critical analysis of the concept of “gift”[1...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
51 weeks 2 days ago View original post.

For the reflective man

Is the creation simply a circle of greed?

The ocean is certainly not agitated

By fish flashing about

BHARTRI-HARI

In 1706, the Numunu moved from the west to the...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 1 week ago View original post.

Professor Raymond Cohen, a leading historian of diplomacy, says “The practice of Greek diplomacy was quite rudimentary” (…) “Compared with Persian cosmopolitanism, Greek diplomacy was provincial and unpolished”.[1] Since my high-school days, I have been prejudiced against all things Greek – ancient that is. “The ancient Greeks had...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 3 weeks ago View original post.

“Past performance is no indicator of future success” is a warning attached to many financial products that are hawked in the Street. Few people pay any attention to the warning. In fact, “past performance” is the basis of meritocracy. The (predictable) outcome is the Peter Principle. The Peter Principle is a proposition stating that the members of an organization where promotion...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 3 weeks ago View original post.

A landmark document created at the request of NATO has proposed a set of rules for how international cyberwarfare should be conducted. Written by 20 experts in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the US Cyber Command, the...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 3 weeks ago View original post.

Records of an international relations system go back to the mid-fourteenth century BC.[1] At that time already, treaties were signed. Brides were exchanged. Relations between extractive elites focused on the balance of “vital interests” – power relations.

International relations today are not so much about power relations as...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 5 weeks ago View original post.

“Sophie reveals her deepest, darkest secret: on the night that she arrived at Auschwitz, a sadistic doctor made her choose which of her two children would die immediately by gassing and which would continue to live, albeit in the camp. Of her two children, Sophie chose to sacrifice her seven-year-old daughter, Eva, in a heart-rending decision that has left her in mourning and filled with...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 5 weeks ago View original post.

In 213, I have commented on the Italian elections. Meanwhile, a friend of mine has suggested to me signing a “petition” on the future of the country. http://www.change.org – “the world’s petition platform” – sent me 9 similar petitions. I perused them:

...
Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 6 weeks ago View original post.

(a true fairy tale)

There was strife among the Pakicetus[1] – 50 million years ago or so. The older generation dreaded a future about to destroy the very population of Pakicetus and its values. Relativism was sundering cherished traditions. Some liked living on land

...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 7 weeks ago View original post.

The vagueness of the concept

If you want to be a public intellectual in the US, find the catchy turn of phrase and then beat the chicken-mint peas-mashed potatoes circuit with it, writing op-eds in the NYTimes on week-ends to uplifting effect. The “catchy phrase” best be vague and fuzzy: empty vessels resonate best. Like patent medicine it guarantees...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 8 weeks ago View original post.

I’m no friend of the precautionary principle – and I’ve argued against its indiscriminate use. I could not pinpoint clearly my uneasiness, however. Thanks to Biljana Scott (http://bit.ly/VghI0L) I’m now able to do so.

In a recent blog she refers to a special Greek notion of time: kairos (καιρός), which can be translated as...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 9 weeks ago View original post.

Let’s recall the definition of game theory as applied to international relations: “Game theory assumes each state is a unitary actor concerned about promoting its national interests, and rationally calculates the payoffs associated with various options (moves); the payoff from a given move will depend on the move taken by the other player(s).”...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 13 weeks ago View original post.

I closed 206 by saying that “diplomacy is where there are no rules”[1]. Here is a situation, which would fit a “use” definition of diplomacy. (A “use” definition is one that describes what one does, rather than what one is).

It’s a dark and stormy night; the rain pours so hard, the car lights reflect the rain and you...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 13 weeks ago View original post.

I’ve vented my prejudices against “theory” in the past (see my http://wp.me/p81We-xh ). For one, the term “theory” seems to me perilously fuzzy. Here two definitions I got off the net[1]:

1.        a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 13 weeks ago View original post.

(just a fairy tale?)

We love to anchor history to events – kings and battles or revolutions. Savvy historians tell us that this reflects our need for retrospective coherence – and not reality (which is mostly chaotic). History, they (rightly) argue, has no beginning[1] – we emerged somehow...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 18 weeks ago View original post.

Pity, in a way, China’s Emperor Qianlong[1]. The “Lord of the Civilized Word” (this was his title) personally supervised an extensive bureaucracy reporting to him either by the “open” or the “confidential” channel. He read all correspondence and marked it: “Noted”, “What’s all this stuff?” or roundly abused the mandarin: “...

1 year 19 weeks ago View original post.

Pity, in a way, China’s Emperor Qianlong[1]. The “Lord of the Civilized Word” (this was his title) personally supervised an extensive bureaucracy reporting to him either by the “open” or the “confidential” channel. He read all correspondence and marked it: “Noted”, “What’s all this stuff?” or roundly abused the mandarin: “...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 19 weeks ago View original post.

197 – Humans as other animals…

In the 1930 Nicolaas TINBERGEN, Konrad LORENZ; and Karl von FRISCH created a new science – ethology: the study of animal behavior. Their progress warranted then a Nobel Prize… in medicine.

Three hundred years before DESCARTES had argued that not only animals lacked “soul” (whatever that may be), but they had no feelings, and just driven...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 19 weeks ago View original post.

A fact is a fact is a fact – we all know that. But what is a “social fact”?

“Social facts” – according to John SEARLE who has spent most of his life studying them – “are only facts by common agreement”[1].

As a “brute fact” a stamp is an insignificant-looking little square, often fancily...

1 year 20 weeks ago View original post.

A fact is a fact is a fact – we all know that. But what is a “social fact”?

“Social facts” – according to John SEARLE who has spent most of his life studying them – “are only facts by common agreement”[1].

As a “brute fact” a stamp is an insignificant-looking little square, often fancily...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 20 weeks ago View original post.

Cohesion within a group of monkeys is maintained through reciprocal grooming. Studies of captive monkeys have shown that grooming makes them more relaxed, reducing their heart rate as well as other external signs of stress. They sometimes become so relaxed that they fall asleep. In fact, we now know that grooming stimulates the production of the body’s natural opiates, the endorphins; in...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 22 weeks ago View original post.

The Brookings Institution has published a long review article on eDiplomacy at the US State Department[1]. Much of the report is factual, interesting, but is not going to transform diplomacy. Electronic means will be useful instruments in disseminating information, raising awareness, and all the humdrum things that make up “public...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 22 weeks ago View original post.

I’ve asked a US diplomat friend of mine what his experience had been with Facebook as a tool in diplomacy. Here is his answer: “we had good results with Facebook outreach to Palestinians and Israeli Arabs on business, economic, social and technology issues.”

There are a few interesting lessons to glean from this short statement.

The most important one in my view is that it...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 22 weeks ago View original post.

More than specific technologies it is our “habits of thought” – our “mentality” – which allows societies to advance in understanding reality of a broad front. Around 1250 such a change in mentality took hold in Europe. We never looked back. What happened?

One view is that: “Western Europeans evolved a new way, more purely visual and quantitative than the old, of perceiving...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 23 weeks ago View original post.

Should we not take advantage of today’s “tradition” of aversion against nuclear weapons – I’ve highlighted this “taboo” in my 186 – to go for nuclear disarmament? A friend asked me this question. I’m not an expert on this issue, but I can contribute three considerations.

Liminary remark first: Things have changed. For one, deterrence has become a “three (main) body object” – a far...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 23 weeks ago View original post.

Before the UN General Assembly PM Benyamin NETANYAHU has argued that the UN should “red-line” Iran. The country should face the foreseeable threat of foreign military intervention, should its nuclear capability reach inadmissible levels. Is this a sensible diplomatic tactic?

 ...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 25 weeks ago View original post.
Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 29 weeks ago View original post.

In December 2008 Colleen GRAFFY, newly minted Deputy Undersecretary of State for Public Affairs, tweeted about her experience in the Iceland’s Blue Lagoon.

In 2009 Alec ROSS, social networks guru at the US State Department, teweetet in order to inform his twitter-world that he had “challenged the Syrian Minister of Telecom to a cake-eating contest.”

On May 25th...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 32 weeks ago View original post.

Blogging is at its best when it generates a conversation that elicits new ideas and garners new perspectives. Earlier this month, Diplo’s Hannah SLAVIK did just that when she posted a blog asking herself and others whether teaching 20’000 students at the same time is possible. Her post offers Coursera as an example. It recently registered 680’000 students in...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 32 weeks ago View original post.

Where top is top

And bott’m is bott’m

Top down and bottom-up shall never meet

What if they tweet?[1]

Web 2.0 is about social networks: many individuals – particularly young ones – staying...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 33 weeks ago View original post.

Michael SANDEL – a professor of justice at Harvard, has written a book on the issue of “whether money should be allowed to buy everything”[1]. I did not like the book much – long on hoary examples (over 100) of money being allowed to intrude in areas where money was excluded until now. It was short, however, a framework for...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 35 weeks ago View original post.

Pity the Swedish Ambassador to Belarus HE Stefan ERIKSSON. He is an “old hand”, accredited to the country since 2005. He speaks the language fluently and has come to know the country deeply as well as become a “major public figure”. All indications are that he has been a credit to his country and the profession.

...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 36 weeks ago View original post.

Katharina HÖHNE, in the www.diplomacy.edu blog[1], has argued the power of analogy. She is right. All of trigonometry is based on analogy. Syllogisms are analogies. Analogies are useful points of departure in Bayesian processes – the way we learn from our errors...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 39 weeks ago View original post.

Upon retirement I decided to deepen my knowledge of my country’s origins. The title of the most respected recent history book on the subject bore the less than promising title: Founding period without founders[1].

And indeed: all the familiar figures of my youthful studies had vanished without trace. I knew that Wilhelm Tell...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 42 weeks ago View original post.

In his op-ed “Pacific winds bring spring”[1] former Indian ambassador T P SREENIVASAN reviews the US-India strategic relationship and concludes:

The spring in India-US relation, evident after the third round of strategic dialogue, comes from the anxiety of the two countries to rebalance themselves in the face of Chinese...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 42 weeks ago View original post.

Fifty years ago Algeria achieved its independence. Switzerland, and in particular Olivier LONG[1], a trade diplomat, deserves credit for acting as go-between quietly and effectively, between Algeria’s Provisional Government in Tunis, and France, then the colonial power.

   ...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 44 weeks ago View original post.

The Brooklyn Bridge was the first major suspension bridge, completed in 1883. This basic design was improved upon – over time such bridges more than doubled in length. As confidence in the technology grew, some of the original safety features were discarded as redundant. Other features were sacrificed to cost-cutting, or to daring design: one only has to compare the sleekness of the...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 46 weeks ago View original post.

Prediction is dicey – I’ve argued this many times. Does close study and sophisticated methodology pay as compared to “back of the envelope” predicting?

Duncan J. WATTS reports[1] on studies he has carried out, comparing various kinds of predictive models, and testing them against basic heuristics – rules of thumb.

...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 50 weeks ago View original post.

Jovan has asked me to reflect on how to determine the “public interest”. As a lazy skeptic I’ve shied away from the subject. It is at the crossroads of epistemology, chaos theory, political science, and consciousness – and much more. I feel like the old man in the movie: The Pink Panther. It is night, and the Pink Panther jewel has just been stolen from Princess Dalah’s...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 1 week ago View original post.

Western art did not take easily to realism, irony, and caricature. It was set mainly in the heroic and hieratic mode. Paintings of private homes of Pompeii and Herculaneum at times suggest the grotesque and numinous. Irony is but a hint – if at all.

Take the T’ang, the “premier” dynasty of China (618 – 907 AD). Realism and irony are part of the canon...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 1 week ago View original post.

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