Media and Communications Articles

President Barack Obama salutes as he arrives on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 12, 2014 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).
The Realist Prism

Obama’s Muddled Messaging Encourages U.S. Allies to Free Ride

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

The Obama administration has still not found the appropriate balance in its foreign policy rhetoric between making the case for continued U.S. leadership of the international system and encouraging other countries to help lighten America’s load by taking up more of the burden. more


The Politics of Advocacy: Setting and Vetting the Global Agenda

By Charli Carpenter
, , Feature

A U.N. conference this year on fully autonomous weapons, or “killer robots,” raises the question: Why do some issues and not others attract global policy attention? This article explores the channels through which humanitarian concerns are guided from grassroots activism to the highest levels of the international political agenda. more

Anti-Semitic Violence in France Part of Broader Political Unraveling

By Judah Grunstein
, , Trend Lines

The recent attacks against synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses on the margins of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in France have shocked many, despite being only the latest in a string of anti-Semitic incidents and violence in the country over the past few years. But to focus only on the anti-Semitic nature of the violence is to make the mistake of paying attention only to the tip of the iceberg. more

Pakistan Media War a Loss for Both Geo and ISI

By Shehzad H. Qazi
, , Briefing

Two months ago gunmen launched a brazen attack on Hamid Mir, one of Pakistan’s most famous journalists, riddling his car with bullets. Mir survived the assassination attempt, but soon plunged into a storm of controversy after he accused the Pakistani military of the crime. The ongoing clash between Mir’s employer—Geo—and the military has become a landmark event, with implications for Pakistan’s democracy. more

Ukraine’s Ongoing Struggle With Its Russian Identity

By Nicolai N. Petro
, , Feature

In Ukraine, language politics is so contentious that politicians will go to great lengths to deny that the issue even exists. Ukrainian politicians often say that the issue only comes up during elections, but the same politicians have also come to blows in parliament over the issue. To appreciate the deep-seated and unresolved concerns that lie at the heart of the language issue, we need to look at who actually uses which language, and the cultural and political agendas behind one’s choice of language. more

China’s Language Policy Goes Global

By Arienne M. Dwyer
, , Feature

Twenty years ago, the Chinese language was seen by most outside of China and Taiwan as obscure, possibly nearly unlearnable. Nowadays, however, Mandarin Chinese language instruction worldwide is experiencing huge growth. Meanwhile, Mandarin has also eclipsed all other varieties of Chinese as the premier language of China, even as ethnic-based flare-ups continue to persist in regions like Tibet and Xinjiang. In all of these cases, language identity and Chinese language policy is key to understanding events. more

Canada’s Enduring Language Divide

By Jack Jedwab
, , Feature

In the early 1960s, Canada’s Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism warned that relations between English and French Canadians had so seriously deteriorated that their will to live together was in jeopardy. Underlying these concerns were fears about the future of the French language in the country. Some four decades following the introduction of Canda's policy of official languages, however, it would be difficult to contend there has been meaningful growth in the degree of bilingualism. more

Virtual Sovereignty: Governments, Stakeholders and Internet Governance

By Jovan Kurbalija
, , Feature

The way the Internet is governed is of strategic importance to modern society. Yet current Internet governance is not robust enough to address the Internet’s critical relevance. Recent developments have led many governments, international organizations, think tanks and experts to search for a new governance formula. The main challenge is how to reconcile the tension between current Internet governance, led by nongovernmental players, and increasing demands for a stronger role for governments. more

The Realist Prism: Putin’s Sochi Games Global Even Without Obama, West

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

The general consensus in the Western media is that the Sochi Olympics have been a diplomatic failure for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Several European and American leaders, among them U.S. President Barack Obama, skipped attendance in tacit protest of Russian policies. But Sochi raises a provocative question as to whether the absence of key Westerners takes away from the “global” nature of an event. more

Diplomatic Fallout: Why Nuland, U.S. Prefer U.N. to EU in Ukraine

By Richard Gowan
, , Column

Foreign affairs specialists snickered last week after an unknown source released a recording of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland saying, “F**k the EU.” Judging by the recording, it was merely the sort of bad language that diplomats use every day in private. The truly striking aspect of the leaked tape is not Nuland’s dismissal of the EU but her apparent enthusiasm for working with the U.N. more

U.S. Learning to Live With Strained Ecuador Ties

By Michael Shifter
, , Briefing

Since Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa came to power, U.S. relations with Ecuador have been rocky. Most recently, USAID decided to pull out of Ecuador in 2014 after it was unable to reach an agreement with the Correa government over continued support of democracy promotion efforts. Two issues in particular have roiled relations: Ecuador’s dispute with Chevron, and Correa’s restrictions on press freedoms. more

Strategic Horizons: After NSA Leaks, ‘Trust but Verify’ Applies to U.S. Government

By Steven Metz
, , Column

Recent leaks about government programs to sift through telephone and Internet data by Edward Snowden, a low-level defense contractor, may finally unleash a national debate about the adequacy of constitutional protections in the 21st century. The disclosure of classified information, combined with the ongoing WikiLeaks episode, may also begin a broader discussion about the relationship between privacy and security. more

Images of Dissent: Protest and the Limits of Social Networks

By Neville Bolt
, , Feature

Today both states and their challengers face a conundrum. Images of dissent and grievance circulate at lightning speed through the global media landscape, fueling demands for change and even revolution. Furthermore they encourage populations to expect governments to fall in response to people power in ever-contracting timeframes. States are perplexed at how rapidly calls for change can spread through social networks. Their challengers, too, are concerned: They face a loss of control and message coherence. more

From Chiapas to Tahrir: Networks and the Diffusion of Protest

By Sandra González-Bailón
, , Feature

A lot has changed since the Zapatista movement emerged in the mid-1990s in southern Mexico to become a symbol of the fight for global justice. As outdated as the imagery of the Zapatistas might look to our retrained eyes, it was one of the first global manifestations of the tectonic shift caused by new communication technologies. The transformations unleashed then are still shaping the way protest movements arise, aided by evolutions in the networks through which they are diffused. more

U.S. Must Break Silence on China’s Increased Media Censorship

By Elizabeth M. Lynch
, , Briefing

In 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an important speech condemning government censorship, calling for greater Internet freedom and reiterating that freedom of expression was a vital U.S. value. But during the past two weeks, as issues of press censorship in China have become front-page news, the State Department has remained noticeably silent, even as that censorship has impacted the U.S. media. more

Strategic Horizons: The Information Battlefield of Live-Cast War

By Steven Metz
, , Column

Technology has shattered any expectation of official control over the portrayal of armed conflict. Battlefields are now populated not only by news agencies from a variety of nations, but also by individuals able to capture and transmit images for use in pressuring governments. From this point on, most military operations will be "live cast." But policymakers and military leaders have not yet adjusted. more

China's Xi Inherits New Approaches to Changing Media Landscape

By Maria Repnikova
, , Briefing

As China unveils its next generation of leaders, the experience of the past decade shows a party-state struggling to adapt to a fast-changing media landscape. Under President Hu Jintao, official discourse on the media shifted, with the term “leading" replacing “guiding” when it came to public opinion. The change represents a move away from suppressing information to “spinning” it. more

In Recent Curbs, Hong Kong Protesters See China's Hand

By Geoff Bell
, , Briefing

A group of 10,000 demonstrators has surrounded government headquarters in Hong Kong to protest a controversial new class being introduced in schools this fall. The Hong Kong government claims it simply wants to boost students’ knowledge of and attachment to China. But the protesters argue the course is just the latest example of Beijing’s attempts to control political discourse in the city.
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Hide in Plain Sight: Rethinking 'Invisible' Wars

By Charli Carpenter
, , Feature

Much digital ink has been spilled over how cyber and unmanned technologies are changing the nature of war, allowing it to be fought more secretly, more subversively and with greater discretion. In fact, it is precisely the increasing visibility of ordinary warfare due to communications technology that is driving U.S. efforts to redefine the rules of engagement. more

Social Media, Inc.: The Global Politics of Big Data

By Ron Deibert
, , Feature

Google's recent run-ins with the People's Republic of China are part of an emerging trend in world politics: the growing political importance of the corporate giants that own and operate cyberspace. The decisions these companies take for commercial reasons can end up having political consequences. And even as they flex their political muscles, the corporate behemoths that already control huge swaths of cyberspace are being deputized by governments with more-expansive policing responsibilities. more