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DiploNews – Issue 10 – 29 October 1999

DiploNews – Issue 10 – October 29, 1999

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DiploKnowledge Research Topic: Will information technology necessarily create better and more harmonious relations in the world?

The usual presumption is that IT development and the Internet will increase communication among individuals and nations and ipso facto bring more harmonious relations in the modern world. Is this true? The answer should be positive, but with several reservations and exceptions.

Michael Ignattief argues that sometimes mutual proximity and knowledge of others could be the cause of problems rather than a solution to problems. In his book The Warrior's Honour he indicates the "narcissism of minor differences" as one of the main causes of the Balkan wars.

In a recent article in the Atlantic Monthly Robert Kaplan provides a rather sceptical view on the potential of the Internet to bring nations closer:
The idea that a technology like the Internet closes distances is a narrow version of the truth. An American and a Bulgarian might send e-mail to each other, but once they walk away from their computer screens each has to deal with the reality of a vastly different society: one where you have to pay protection money to keep your car or house from being vandalized, and one where you don't; one where your currency is worth something, and one where it isn't; one where the Second World War ended in 1945, and one where it really didn't end until the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

This excerpt was taken from an article which mainly discusses relations between Turkey and Bulgaria. The article can be found at The Atlantic.

Our research, and experience with every-day life in a multicultural environment demonstrates that IT and the Internet will not bring better relations in the modern world simply by their sheer existence. Many other elements are necessary in order to complement the generally positive contribution of the Internet towards better understanding among people and individuals. If you are interested to participate in research or to contribute to our discussion in this field please send an e-mail to diplo@diplomacy.edu.

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