DailyPost 1956

The art of conducting the affairs of the state is statecraft. Such a simplistic description and within it encompasses the whole of how a state operates end to end. It deals with every aspect of human existence and its totality as well. Over and above, what we can call it as the state matters, which are necessary for the survival and well-being of the nation, in areas of business, trade, technology and diplomacy to name a few. Statecraft brings a synergy to this whole complex exercise which firstly operates in silos and secondly it is extremely difficult to synchronize. Unfortunately, the conventional statecraft is supposed to be one of guile, playing the game of crafty or artful deception. It can also be termed as a tool for political success, where the state itself becomes a tool.

The conventional statecraft talks about managing reality, coupling ends and means in the ways that advance a country’s interests. Both diplomacy and military force are complimentary insofar as they serve the same state’s interest. The interest of the state can be different for the political interests. Any umbilical cord connection between the two can turn out to be suicidal. The conventional tools include economic sanctions, foreign aid, trade propaganda etc. These tools are an admixture of positive and negative ones. These are the days of defensive measures which we can term as the protective measures like investment screening and export controls. The affairs of the state within the state remains critical to the art of statecraft and conventional mode is breaking down.

The players of statecraft and their skills have not considerably changed and their mindsets have remained fairly static. The lust for bringing politics in literally everything and the whole culture of one upmanship is distinctly coming in the way. This culture also means knee jerk reactions to everything. Given the complexities of today’s world and the changed fulcrum and North Star, more often than not even the best practitioners get it wrong. Managing today’s reality is a professional game with a variety of skills and not only politics or even an objective conventional statecraft. The rules of the game have changed. The dilution of the geographical areas of nation states and whole era of Conncetography has its own nuances.

Today’s statecraft has to be built on the skills on technology and management practices besides the conventional art, as it was supposed to be. These two come handy in every arena of statecraft, from military to diplomacy to development to silencing the critics, when unwarranted, if needed. Two examples can be the hacking of the US Presidential Elections 2016 and the way Pegasus has been used as a tool for statecraft worldwide. Not understanding Blockchain and Crypto currency is certainly coming in the way of statecraft. Data driven, expertise and experts driven statecraft. It cannot be handled by one class. It should not be. The transformed world warrants the formation of new alliances, inducting stakeholders, who represent the modern world. That is the way forward.


Sanjay Sahay

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