April 15, 2017

SERGE SCHMEMANN reviews "THE CHESSBOARD AND THE WEB"

NY Times: At the start of the 2015 Henry L. Stimson Lectures at Yale, on which this book is based, Anne-Marie Slaughter, a distinguished political scientist, authority on international law and now president of the New America think tank, explained that the topic came to her while she was serving as director of policy planning at the State Department — in effect while she was practicing what she had preached in her academic career. by SERGE SCHMEMANN

'The time-honored exercise of international politics as a “great game,” an endless competition for strategic advantage among sovereign and equal powers, was in urgent need of a radical update for a world in which networks spawned by the internet and social media, both benign and malignant, were shaping a far different global order. “The Chessboard and the Web” is meant as a guide for foreign policy in this new world.


'Whether in human interrelations or terrorism, efficient businesses or nefarious crime syndicates, government services or governments meddling in each other’s politics, Slaughter declares, we are at the dawn of a “Networked Age” when “all humanity is connected beneath the surface like the giant colonies of aspen trees in Colorado that are actually all one organism.” Yet foreign-policy makers, she argues, still play on the two-dimensional chessboard fashioned by the 17th-century Peace of Westphalia, partly because they lack the strategies for the web.

'The grand strategy she proposes is an international order based on three pillars: open society, open government and an open international system. Open versus closed, she declares, is the fault line of the digital age, the way capitalism versus Communism was in the last century. In the new order, in which competing states have been replaced by networks, openness means participation, transparency, autonomy and resistance to controls or limits on information.'

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