- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Today, Luke Bozier, a former Labour Party web guru who recently defected to the Tories, has an op-ed up at the Huffington Post recommending "intervention 2.0" as an international strategy for responding to the bloodshed in Syria. Here’s how it works:
Instead of invasion, the new paradigm is to support and encourage grassroots movements inside the borders of countries whose regimes we seek to change. At an opportune moment, Western powers would utilise their unique military assets to ensure a swift, relatively happy ending.[…]
Direct intervention is off the table, thanks to Russia and China’s obstinate position at the UN. So countries like ours have to find ways to support the uprising, without directly engaging the Syrian military. Options include the covert supply of weapons, the promise of exile to senior figures willing to abandon Assad, training, strategic and tactical support to the armed resistance, and the de-recognition of the Ba’athist regime as the government of Syria.
There’s an argument to be made for intervention of this kind, but it’s not exactly a paradigm-shattering approach. The idea of providing tactical support to rebels in countries whose governments we want to overthrow wasn’t even that new when Dwight Eisenhower was doing it. And Bozier’s notion that "Previously, oppressed people didn’t have a voice or the tools needed to stand up, thanks to the Internet they now do," would have been news to Mahatma Gandhi or the crowds at the Bastille.
This is just the latest example of the rampant "2.0" abuse that has swept through the media and policymaking circles in the years since web 2.0 first became a buzzword. We have Wael Ghonim’s recent book Revolution 2.0. The State Department touts "Civil Society 2.0". (This is admittedly less cumbersome that P2P2G.)
It’s hard to find a political concept that hasn’t been 2.0’d these days. There’s public diplomacy 2.0, counterinsurgency 2.0, Jihad 2.0, war 2.0, Islam 2.0, Christianity 2.0, Judaism 2.0, communism 2.0 and capitalism 2.0, feminism 2.0, Europe 2.0, India 2.0, conservatism 2.0, Obama 2.0, Putin 2.0, Tories 2.0, democracy 2.0, energy 2.0, nuclear 2.0, Zionism 2.0, al Qaeda 2.0, multilateralism 2.0, IMF 2.0, NATO 2.0, and environmentalism 2.0.
The problem with "2.0" is that, in additional quickly becoming a tiresome cliché, it’s often used to dress up not-particularly-original concepts as high-tech, paradigm-shattering developments. Pretending that the rules have completely changed because of the advances in information technology seems like a very easy way to avoid learning from the still pertinent historical examples of the pre-networked world.
As Rebecca McKinnon writes in her new book, Consent of the Networked, "Contrary to what some people may have hoped and believed, the Internet does not change human nature. "It generally doesn’t change the basic rules of global politics either. The basic merits and flaws of an idea like humanitarian intervention still apply — even in a post-Facebook world.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |