The realm of social media and the power of the Internet lies in the hands of the people. Together they are a tool that allow greater access to information, global connectivity, a platform for speeches, advocacy and political statements, tools for video and photo dissemination and much more. The Internet, in many parts of the world, is free and open to the public, which allows for the rapid growth of people-to-people diplomacy across national borders, and has a democratizing effect on information. It has also created the space for the tech boom in which the giants of Silicon Valley thrive.
In the race to be the world’s dominant economy, Americans have at least one clear advantage over the Chinese. We’re much better at branding. American companies have these eccentric failed novelists and personally difficult visionary founders who are fantastic at creating brands that consumers around the world flock to and will pay extra for.
A new, three-minute ad by Coca-Cola, “Small World Machines,” starts with a relatively straightforward premise: India and Pakistan do not get along so well. It ends with the promise of peace: “Togetherness, humanity, this is what we all want, more and more exchange,” a woman, either Indian or Pakistani, narrates as the music swells. Sounds great. How do we get there? By buying Coke, of course.
The financial crisis altered the very nature of the international balance of power. Five years later, the presumption is that the crisis is in the rearview mirror -- and that the volatility that shook markets and felled governments is behind us too. But we've entered a new order that's vastly more uncertain than what preceded it.
Today, Google is arguably one of the most influential nonstate actors in international affairs, operating in security domains long the purview of nation-states: It tracks the global arms trade, spends millions creating crisis-alert tools to inform the public about looming natural disasters, monitors the spread of the flu, and acts as a global censor to protect American interests abroad.
U.S. businesses, in particular, are ambassadors of American values and are more engaged in the economies where they operate, especially in the rapidly growing markets of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. By putting those values into action, the private sector can serve as the leading edge of American influence by promoting entrepreneurism; empowering communities; and demonstrating all the advantages of contracts, competition, transparency and fair dealing in the marketplace.
A group of foreign college students who came to the U.S. on cultural work exchange visas in December have been protesting their working conditions at a McDonald's in Harrisburg, Pa. In the process, they've wading into a debate about guest workers in the U.S. The students include Jorge Rios, who says three months ago he eagerly did the legwork necessary to get a J-1 visa, used for student work exchange.