Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quickie: Diplomacy and the Myth of the Techno-Utopia

Evgeny Morozov, a fellow at Georgetown University and a contributing editor to Foreign Policy pens the Saturday essay for the Wall Street Journal (The Digital Dictatorship |WSJ | February 20, 2010). Excerpt below:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vows to make Internet freedom one of the cornerstones of American foreign policy, and one senator after another issues calls to "tear down this cyber wall" and allocate more funding to groups that promote Internet freedom and fight online censorship without giving much thought to the footnotes. The spirit of techno-utopianism in Washington rides so high it often seems that the Freedom Agenda has been reborn as the Twitter Agenda—perhaps only with more utopianism about both democratization and the Internet's role in it. Even such a seasoned observer of foreign affairs as Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana could not resist the urge to join the church of Twitter-worship, penning a Foreign Policy op-ed that urged American diplomats to engage with social media. What remains overlooked by Sen. Lugar and others is that authoritarian governments may survive the age of information abundance relatively unscathed—and in fact, they're already using the Internet to fight the challenges posed by modernity.
Diplomacy is, perhaps, one element of the U.S. government that should not be subject to the demands of "open government"; whenever it works, it is usually because it is done behind closed doors. But this may be increasingly hard to achieve in the age of Twittering bureaucrats.

Read the whole thing here.

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