It is necessary to strengthen the ability of young professionals to interact in a new information environment, where you need to take the initiative, to defend convincingly and firmly your own position; to conduct a discussion in such a way that your point of view looks like the closest approximation to the median of common sense: to be able to press the buttons of the interlocutor’s emotions, writes Valdai Club Programme Director Andrey Sushentsov.
The fundamental basis of the Russian approach to the training of future analysts and diplomats is to instil in students a knowledge of the history, language and culture of the country of specialisation. The task of a diplomat is to constantly study the modern context of interaction between states, and the diplomat’s approach to history — “What would the predecessors do?” — makes him both a historian and a philosopher. Such skills contribute to the young specialist’s ability to empathise with the country in which he or she is engaged. Russian diplomatic tradition is fundamentally grounded in the development of the ability to interact with representatives of other countries in their natural system of linguistic and socio-cultural reference values.
No other country in the world trains diplomats for as long as Russia does. At the same time, international experience in the training of diplomatic personnel reveals completely different models. Some European countries neither have a separate course on the history of international relations, nor their own textbook on the discipline. In others, entering the diplomatic service is only possible through professional retraining. Probably, in the EU countries, the six-year system of training a regional specialist by providing knowledge of the language, history and socio-cultural characteristics of the country is too expensive.
As the international developments of the past year show, there are at least two reasons why high-quality training of diplomatic personnel in Russia has not lost its relevance. First, our interlocutors in the West are becoming skilled in toying with human emotions. The era of globalisation has given mankind such an open information society that all people perceive themselves as participants in the international process: foreign policy developments affect people’s thoughts and feelings, turning them into the protagonists of international events. European politicians successfully press the “sympathy” and “solidarity” buttons on the dashboard in connection with various international events. The United States, Britain and some other Western countries, skilled in the information war, are now very good at directing the flows of emotional reactions of English-speaking citizens in the West, and in other regions of the world, to shape the way they perceive what is happening, for example, in Ukraine. Moreover, intuitively, a person can understand that the picture does not correspond to his deep intuition about what is really happening, but since there are logical constructions in the synonymous row, he does not find the opportunity to intellectually disagree with this. In the West, they directly work with the spiritual space of a person, prompting him to act, not to remain indifferent to what is happening. Emotion is the fuel for action. Due to the fact that in the West, the techniques for working with the mental structure of a person are becoming more and more sophisticated, they have many instrumental approaches to motivate people to act.
Second, the countries where the centre of gravity of world resources is gradually shifting, namely China and India, do not perceive the confrontation between Russia and the West as a redistribution of the world order, but only as the latest struggle within the West. That is, what is happening is perceived as a conflict within “white civilization”, as a dispute between economic entities. Russian diplomacy needs to work with this perception — to show that this is a long-term confrontation about the principles on which international relations will be built in the 21st century — unipolar or polycentric. Here, of course, we see things like India and China; these countries are aware of the fact that for the first time since the modern era began, large centres of economic, political and military gravity are emerging outside the West. For us, the East is becoming a major new dimension that we need to understand..
In the course of the Non-West growth, Russia cannot become a second-tier power. As a large state, the centre of gravity in the north of Eurasia, Russia must be among the top three or five world powers, maintaining agency in the struggle among these great countries and exclude for itself the possibility of dependence on anyone. In light of the above reasons, what new things should we do in the training of diplomats? Of course, it is necessary to strengthen the ability of young professionals to interact in a new information environment, where you need to take the initiative, to defend convincingly and firmly your own position; to conduct a discussion in such a way that your point of view looks like the closest approximation to the median of common sense: to be able to press the buttons of the interlocutor’s emotions.