The Demise of Traditional Deplomacy and the Rise of Media in International Relations.

Topics: International relations, Foreign policy, Diplomacy Pages: 5 (1666 words) Published: June 13, 2012
International relations deals with the way that different countries/ communities communicates interact with others for the purpose of minimizing conflict and promoting good relations among different people (Chinyanganyu etal ,2010). The upsurge of media technology has generated a critical role for the media to play in inter-government diplomacy. As this discussion progress, the writer seeks to outline the role of media at the Centre of international diplomacy. The pros and cons of positioning media at the Centre of international affairs will also be looked in detail.

While traditional inter-governmental diplomacy is the correct and professional means of international engagements, media seem to have gradually usurp this power to such an extent that one writer noted that : “thanks to the communications revolution and the new technology, the old world of diplomacy is itself in ruins”. Ammon (2000), referring to ambassadors added, “They are no longer the chief custodians of policy. Their arts are the arts of an era that has disappeared … and ambassadors [have] become a threatened specie.” Badsey (1997) contends that, In this modern era of high technology, foreign policy is moving with the media. Indeed for fast response and timeous action a number of respected international leaders have shun their diplomatic channels in preference to international media such as the CNN. Jordan’s King Hussein, irritated by something George Shultz said on CNN, did not call his foreign minister or ambassador in Washington. He called CNN to broadcast his reply. Criticized for favoring Iraq in the Gulf War, the King again chose CNN as the quickest and most forceful way to get to President George Bush.

When the United States tumbled into Somalia, George Kennan, the revered scholar-diplomat, was appalled. It was a “dreadful error of American policy”, he wrote, caused primarily by an emotional reaction to “the exposure of the Somalia situation by the American media, above all television”.

Kennan wrote:
… if American policy from here on out … is to be controlled by popular emotional impulses, and particularly ones provoked by the commercial television industry, then there is no place-not only for myself, but what have traditionally been regarded as the responsible deliberative organs of our government, in both executive and legislative branches. Drezner D (2007;4)

International Leaders tends to respond to what they see and hears on the media. That can be very dangerous, or it can be very helpful. As indicated above. The world, to some extent, was driven into Somalia because of the media coverage. At the same time, starvation in the Sudan has been virtually ignored. Consider when President Ronald Reagan saw television pictures of the massacre of Palestinians in Lebanese refugee camps, he quickly sent in the Marines, an ill-considered mission that ended in tragedy with the death toll of both factions rising to unprecedented levels.

Bennet (1994) added that, to say that Media is driving foreign policy is a misnomer. What media has done is to bring public opinion into play as never before in determining where national interest lies and the policy to further it. It may be a mighty inconvenience for policy-makers. Media has changed the landscape of our minds-displacing, to some extent, even the literacy that has been the mold of our reason for many years. It should not surprise us that media, which has modified all our institutions, should be altering the conduct of international affairs.

In medieval Europe, the Church was matrix of thought, the boundary of the popular imagination: it explained everything but today, the media sets the boundaries of the popular imagination, and it sets them very wide, if not often very deep. There has never been a phenomenon like the media, its seductive appeal, the passive absorption it encourages; it’s in formativeness, its ability to leap across international frontiers and the barriers of class and...
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