Yuba Nath Lamsal
Kautilya is said to be the guru of modern art of diplomacy. A shrewd and sharp politician, Kautilya has many tips for rulers and diplomats, which are still taken as the basis of foreign policy and statecraft. India is one that has followed Kautilya’s tricks and tips in the conduct of foreign policy and diplomacy.
Kautilya’s doctrine is taken as a modern day’s realist approach of conducting diplomacy. His approach in the conduct of diplomacy is in stark contrast to the idealist approach. In the realm of realism, the existing factors and powers play a key role in the conduct of diplomacy and art of negotiation. According to Kautilya’s realist approach, money, military and muscle are the key factors in the world of diplomacy and statecraft. But money is more powerful than the military. Kautilya has said, “From the strength of the treasury the army is born.”
More than realism, Kautilya’s approach is dubbed as the hawkish model that some of the Western powers and their allies have followed at present. “If you can’t beat in competition, bribe them” is what the fundamental basis of Kautilya’s thesis of diplomacy and statecraft. Money is the tool to bribe the rivals. State power is the trick to entice the adversaries and bring into one’s own fold. Military option is only second to money. The modern capitalist model seems to have followed Kautilya’s doctrine. Military strategists, too, follow this doctrine.
Modern realists suggests the use of three ‘Cs’ to have better position in the conduct of diplomacy. The three Cs are ‘convince’, ‘confuse’ and ‘confront’. The use of three Cs produces another C that is ‘conquer’. In other words, the modern realist strategists believe that a country or power need to develop its strategy and tools to maintain control both of its allies and adversaries by means of diplomacy, negotiation, money and military power. It is said that diplomacy achieves what military cannot. The art of diplomacy is the peaceful war that maintains domination over others and defends one’s own interests. In the simplest terms, diplomats are the frontline soldiers in defending one’s own interest in the international arena. Military is used only when diplomacy fails. In the similar fashion, diplomacy starts its work when military option fails to achieve its objective and goals.
The first and the last option in the international politics is diplomacy. One has to convince to bring the adversary into one’s own fold. This requires high level of diplomacy in which all options are kept open. Economic strength, military power, strategic location of a particular country give leverage in negotiation. But the ability of diplomats in handling the issues and their art of negotiation play a key role in pursuing the other party or parties to bring into one’s own term. But modern hawks often utilize the language of threat in order to bring the adversaries into their terms. This is how the modern realist approach of conducting diplomacy and defending one’s own interest is defined.
Persuasion and convincing is the best approach to defend one’s own interest and maintain domination in the international affairs. This approach involves the least risk or no risk at all. It requires the highest degree of diplomacy. When efforts of persuasion fails, the countries and powers do not immediately apply military force. The use of military force has a multiple risk. Many options are kept open before the military option is used. Prior to the use of military options, use of threat, propaganda and even economic and trade sanction are applied to bring the targeted force into one’s own term. It is said that when the efforts to convince and persuasion fail, it is advisable to try to confuse the adversaries. Efforts to convince and confuse ultimately yield similar results as confused adversary can never confront and compete. If one succeeds in confusing the enemy, it is as good as winning the war. Multiple approaches are applied in the trick of confusing enemies. Media is the strongest and most effective tool in propaganda war aiming at confusing the enemy. It is this reason why the modern powers often control media under the cover of free press. Although western liberal democracies often preach press freedom, freedom of expression and right to information, it is starkly different in practice when the vital interests of the great powers are at stake. Anyone can make this conclusion when one minutely follows the coverage of international events by the western media. The embedded journalism is more practiced in the Western liberal democracies where press freedom is considered the basic pillar of democracy than in any other country in the world. The open and brazen use of embedded journalism was seen in the Iraq War where media persons were taken as part of the US forces and their coverage was strictly scrutinized, if not censored, before they appeared in the media.
Media either remains tightlipped or shamelessly defend the decisions and move of their own government when it comes to foreign policy and defence. The converge by the Western media on some vital international events is suspected to be heavily slanted in the interest of the western countries. This is nothing more than the use and misuse of media to defend the interest of some particular country or countries. This is part of the propaganda war, which western powers are using to confuse the rest of the world. In our own neighboring India too, media does not speak even when their government adopts wrong policies in relation with its neighbors. Indian media do not speak and write a single word about the brutality and human rights violation being perpetrated by their troops in Kashmir. Instead, the media glorify such acts whatever brutal it might be. But the same media raise hell on human rights issue in other countries. This has become possible because the state has indirect control over media. The media in the capitalist countries are not owned by the government but by business houses. The government keeps tab on media through owners of the media houses or the business houses.
The approach of confrontation begins only when the two methods of convincing and confusing fail. In this third approach military force is applied. But military force alone cannot win war. The role of propaganda is equally important in war, for which media is used and misused. The same is being practiced by the powers that champion press freedom and freedom of expression. The freedom of expression is also relative. All media coverage is propaganda. Its definition varies depending upon the situation and nature of coverage.
Even after the victory in war, propaganda is again required, for which media plays a key role. Unless the media is in favor, neither war can be won nor the victory sustained. This is how big powers control media through different methods in order to ensure favorable coverage and build public opinion in their support.
Democracy, human rights and press freedom are, thus, becoming the tools of western powers to interfere in other countries and take control over the resources in the world. In the world of realism, power prevails but not ethics. This is how the theory once preached by 4th century’s philosopher Kautilya is at work in the world in the name of realist theory. In this theory, power comes through money and the money is generated through powers. In the present world, the capitalists have pursued and practiced this theory in a more sophisticated way. Power and money are synonyms for the capitalists and they resort to everything possible for money and power. Media and technology are being used as their tools to unleash propaganda and control the world. This is how the realm of realism in the statecraft and diplomacy is being practiced.