If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Talbott on globalization and non-state actors

Redefining the tools we need to deal in a world that’s global, that has one sort of digital flow of information, and has an influx of non-state actors: Statecraft, NATO, IMF, World Bank ,Al-Qaida, ISIL. Fmr. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in conversation with Walter Isaacson, President & CEO of The Aspen Institute.

Want to join the conversation?

No posts yet.

Video transcript

I'm alter Isaacson to the Aspen Institute I'm here with former Deputy Secretary of State strobe Talbott in your time as both a journalist and then as a diplomat how is the change an information flow the way we study things the fact that in your book you talk about turning on CNN at least six or seven times in the book where you and your Russian counterparts are watching CNN to see what happens how does that change in the news cycle and in the way we get information change diplomacy well I think it's part of a larger phenomenon Walter which I would describe this way globalization which is a word that isn't bandied around quite as much now as it used to be and I think one of the reasons for that is that when globalization became part of our vocabulary it was seen to be basically a positive phenomenon that was bringing the world together but the world doesn't seem to be coming together at the moment what globalization has one of the effects of globalization is that it has empowered non-state actors now non-state actors can be good actors mediocre actors are really bad actors give me an example of good non-state actors Human Rights Watch well-governed and public-spirited global corporations you know the the university's you and I both went to are now going global media companies nongovernmental organizations of that kind but at the other extreme we have things like al-qaeda or ISIL that respect no government boundaries and are becoming global force right what this means for diplomacy and statecraft and i would say transnational if not global governance is that we have to adjust to a world in which much of what happens and much of what catches us by surprise does not have the fingerprints of governments on it it's not because I chancelry somewhere or a presidential palace or a middle east monarchy makes a decision to invade an a in country it's because there is an increasing amount of real estate on the planet which is either badly governed miss governed or not governed at all where these forces that are not state-based can come at us and are very very hard to deal with because if we were talking 50 years ago and much of our conversation here has gone back that far if you could deal with the the guy in the Kremlin then the largest territorial State on the planet the USSR was going to do X or Y now you don't even have the leverage of knowing who to talk to much less how to persuade somebody when you're talking about something as amorphous and slippery and by the way suicidal as al-qaeda or Isis so that makes deterrence or even mutual assured destruction concepts that are not as relevant take the word that I just use statecraft we're talking about non statecraft how do you craft a world where you have a lot of non-state actors and we had tools that we talked about for crafting a world with state actors things like defense alliances or monetary funds of world bank's or things that we built in the late 1940s what set of new tools do we need to deal in a world that's global that has one sort of digital flow of information and has all these non-state actors in one sense since it's not a new tool at all it is a redefinition of and a reinvestment in an old tool which is good governance doing everything possible to help governance answer the needs of the people and there's obviously a big economic dimension to that we're bad state actors seem to flourish are in countries that are badly governed and where their individual human beings prospects for just having normal lives stunted it really takes us back in a way to the very beginning of our conversation particularly when we were talking about coming out of the Second World War going into the Cold War and trying to build up a free world that was basically dominated by good actors and that had as you pointed out of security dimension but it also had a governance dimension and a economic dimension oh and by the way at a communications dimension to ISIL is grotesquely modern in some ways I mean they've got very good production standards with these grotesque videos that they're putting up there you and they're using Twitter and equivalents of Twitter to recruit people from around the world not just from the Islamic world so we've got to have a counter-offensive in the communications field about 20 years ago you wrote an article for Time magazine in which you envisioned a future in which it would be just one sort of global governing structure that we wouldn't have nation-states and it would almost be like a super un that vision of course is not something we seem to be heading to it what is your vision for what the world could and should look like will be based on nation-states some sort of super Federation's or what I think the idea of a super Federation is still viable the stock is falling right now we're in a moment that reminds the sure you as well as me of that wonderful and scary poem that William Butler Yeats wrote at the end at the end the end of World War one where he talked about things falling apart and the center will not hold and how can cannot hear the falconer or not hear the falconer the point the point being that we have come through a global conflict which was the Cold War we just assumed that we could kind of go on autopilot that the thing the the tools that you've been talking about throughout this conversation were adequate to just keep on chuggin in the right direction and it turns out no the phenomenon of globalization with all the benefits that it's had for us has also got a dark side we haven't paid enough to attention to the dark side but i do think to repeat something i said earlier it's all about governance and it would be the counsel of despair to say since we're moving in the wrong direction we should give up on what is the only imaginable outcome of fort a 21st century that is good for our children and our grandchildren you and I both have children and we've got if we've got to think into the future and that is to see the world as a community that is more tightly knit together than it has ever been in the past and therefore must in some fashion with a lot of what you call federalism is sometimes called subsidiarity so that decisions are taken and policies are made at a high level if they must be made at a high level to get things done but they can be made at a low level with smaller communities that construct is not a pipe dream it's working in a number of parts of the world we've made a lot of progress here in our own country the Europeans until recently we're making a lot of progress and we just have to do everything we can to get back on track we've been talking to strobe talbott former deputy secretary of state president of the Brookings Institution thank you very much stuff Thank You Walter is great fun