Of the world’s 100 largest economic entities, 51 are now corporations and 49 are countries. Gross Domestic Product of corporations such as Wal-Mart, General Motors, Exxon mobil and Ford Motors are calculated to exceed GDP’s of states like Norway, Singapore, South Africa and Malaysia. Since domestic markets in a country like Bangladesh depends heavily on companies like Wal-Mart, it is not an alien conceept that these MNC’s today can leverage their economic power by impacting foreign policy in developing nations. Although they weild vast power, MNC’s happen to be only one new color of the changing spectrum of Global Security. The impact of advanced telecommunications and social media in conservative social settings resulted in huge waves of Lilliputians challenging the Gulliver States. The Arab Spring proved that direction of Information technology and Social Media pervasiveness is not vertical but horizontal. People are empowering themselves with progressive thought process using telecommunication tools and challenging the status quo that composes a generation that learned using primitive tools such as letters, tape recorders and weapons of conventional warfare. The quondam state-state relations defined by treaty of Westphalia are redundant and protection of national sovereignty and national security is becoming increasingly difficult under new dynamics. We are entering into a new phase of digital diplomacy and global security where a complete new set of skills and values are required.
The problems created by a rapid innovation in technology are multidimensional. In meager ten years, we have gone from paper maps to GPS, Desktop PC’s to smartphones, dial-up to 4G internet, and paper currency to online banking. Social tools like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus have changed mods and norms of interaction opening up society and keeping Lilliputians well informed. The emerging media with a liberal bias has penetrated autocratic societies challenging not only the view point but way of ruling. While people with access to these evolving trends have changed, governments and politicians failed to adapt as quickly. This has created an ideological gap between the two especially in developing nations where the politicians were not progressive at all. Technology has opened up the system. Wikileaks showed that with access to information, either directly, indirectly, covertly or overtly can impact the way government and states behave. The schematic model of defense oriented mindset is obsolete.
Governments today are required to be open, transparent, accessible and honest. The problem is that very few world leaders have realized the potential of changes in foreign policy due to technology. The current military infrastructure still thinks of controlling borders. Defense mechanisms still focuses on physical presence with military budget soaring both in the US 2and China. We are entering a time where the virtual world is as important as the physical world. Individuals will have a physical identity along with virtual identity and the latter creates a new dynamic for individual and national security. This will require states to create two foreign policies. One for the virtual world and one for the physical world. Cyber terrorism will pick up and governments might create special units of hackers to attack hostile nations. Since government data is now stored virtually, hackers can gain strategic advantage in the virtual world by penetrating that data. This is same as sanctions; the only difference is that to implement this policy; you do not need a state infrastructure or international consensus on the issue. In other words, terrorists will be on same level field as the governments.
These challenges will double as technology will proliferate in developing economies. There will be a shift of liberal bias to more conservative and radical rhetoric of the internet. This creates mounting challenges for international security. Cyber warfare is an eminent threat to international security but governments are not paying enough attention to it. This year, information posted on the internet is more than the entire knowledge of the human race prior to this year. Governments need to adapt to these rapid changes in human development quickly. We are entering a phase where global protest and global movement is no longer an implausible occurrence. Security and sovereignty along borders is not as important as security and sovereignty in the virtual world. It is important for governments to capitalize on their comparative advantage and use resources to take the upper ground against the forces of evil. Looking at it from an optimistic and liberal perspective, global peace and security may not be very distant either. It all depends on in which direction we allow the emerging trend to develop.