Power Playing (with) Social Media: Leaders, Go Wild or Vanish!
1) Observing a High Politics’ Change of Ethics?
There are a lot of good readings “out there” on the disruptive role of social media and the new technologies of communication/interaction. “Disrupt” may got turned into an overused world, as Business Insider, a major disruptor of the global media industry believes: I also believe so. Risking falling into the trap I opened for myself, I believe that not enough have been written, not enough have been said and not enough have been thought upon the disruptive role of social media and the new technologies of communication/interaction to high politics.
High Politics is all about the core interests of the States. They are focused on matters of life and death of the States, which never leave its subjects untouched, and were for a long series of centuries reserved to a very strict professional tribe, the diplomats of the States, who were – and are for what that matters - trained to deliver services of life and death. Diplomats however never “close the deal”, they only prepare it: this is theirs job. High politics negotiations, agreements and disagreements, questions of peace and war, are an item on the agenda of the Leaders of the Nations. So, in order for them to be conceived as “high”, high politics need to involve the highest ranks of the internal hierarchies of the actors involved, the only persons who have the authority to make long commitments of their nations and bring to the deal the collective will of their nations.
High politics presuppose high diplomatic skills, as negotiating “in the name of the nation” is a very stressful process, a process reserved only to the Leaders. To lead a nation was, is and will never be an easy task – if it was, everyone would apply for the job, wouldn’t us all? Borders, long term strategies, people and territories get arranged during these stressful meetings. Skills and means are essential in order to avoid losses one cannot stand and to achieve the targets one may find vital for any agreement to take place.
To lead a nation well is very complicated task; safe judgments of the leaders’ decisions and actions are subjective to the time and space distance, the ethics and habits of the era and the specific society. Over the centuries and in order to facilitate their life along with the life of their subjects, some “best practices” have been established by the leaders in the field of high politics, so international diplomacy becomes a practical rather than theoretical term. Without attempting to be thorough here, a very brief list of the “diplomatic standards” of high politics include mutual recognition and respect before any international meetings; confidentiality and respect during negotiations; serious and mutual efforts to reach a common ground within a specific, very brief, time period; respect of the outcomes after the end of the meetings. Confidentiality is what high politics is all about, before, during and after the meetings, if all participating parties have a clear vision to successful closing and define similarly the term “success”.
For this last to become true, all “high politicians” need to maintain their faith to the good will of the other parties and the negotiations’ processes. Should a party break a deal or “dis” another party, big dramas get on the makings of history, before it turns to History. Some times in the short-to-medium term there may or may not exist the factors to allow the “history of things” turn into History, but to be very brief, honesty and sincerity in the critical moments of high politics is a prerequisite for success; abiding to long established principles of discretion and accountability of the participants was the basic rule of the game.
I said was, because this rule seems to have been erased from the current high politics’ modus operandi. We are at a major turning point of the field of international relations, as we observe the international system getting re-shaped in a real-time manner, continuously, globally. High politics is not reserved to diplomats and leaders operating within closed rooms any more. Rather, the leaders seem anxious to open the doors to the public opinion, tweeting and texting their views on the content or the appearances of high importance negotiations’ processes to their public, the other’s and others’ party public and the world public opinion at large.