This isn’t just some fascinating sci-fi techie battle. Technology is unavoidably a major element now in the world of geopolitics. Iran can’t grow economically, can’t become “normal,” without letting its people use Web 2.0. The same goes for Egypt, Syria and other politically significant players. Absent liberal use of Web 2.0, they will drop faster toward failure, which in our time infers a default to acquiring nuclear capability as a crude equalizer and then striking out at the winners.
This is a puzzle. Mr. Obama should task his smarter people — for instance at the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment — to find a path out of the State Department’s standard model of our diplomats talking to their fake diplomats. That model made him look foolish this week. Nuance needs an upgrade. He should seek a new model that incorporates the wired dissidents not only because it is the right thing to do. But because it is unavoidable. Intelligent meddling…
Some media has been spinning criticism of Mr. Obama’s early passivity as “neoconservative opportunism.” This is nonsense. The technology of Web 2.0 and beyond means no major power can hide from the forces in motion in Iran’s streets today, and somewhere else tomorrow. Those who want to hide are the statist Left and the isolationist Right. This is old America. A new American foreign policy has to deal with the world as it exists. You have been watching it on screens large and small since last week.
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