Ben O'Loughlin to speak at 2013 Milton Wolf Seminar, Vienna

The Diplomatic Academy of ViennaMilton Wolf Seminar 2013

Diplomatic Maneuvers and Journalistic Coverage in a Time of Reset, Pivot and Rebalance


Vienna, Austria, April 16 – 18, 2013

Ben O'Loughlin will lead off discussion of strategic narratives at the 2013 Milton Wolf Seminar hosted by the Diplomatic Academy, Vienna and co-organised with the Annenberg School for Communication and the American Austrian Foundation. This closed event features discussion between diplomats, journalists and scholars over three intense days. The first Milton Wolf Seminar was held in 2001.

The 2013 Milton Wolf seminar addresses the critical role of diplomats and journalists in shaping the outcomes of what we call global geopolitical pivots. Pivots in this case refer to emergent geopolitical shifts around which multiple stakeholders – from major powers, to multilateral organizations, to bloggers working in isolation – seek to provide input on the most appropriate outcomes. As Zbigniew Brzezinski defined them, "Geopolitical pivots are the states whose importance is derived not from their power and motivation but rather from their sensitive location and from the consequences of their potentially vulnerable condition for the behavior of geo-strategic players.”


Examples of contemporary global pivots that will be considered in this year’s Seminar include: the ultimate resolution of the Arab Spring countries, the shifts in geopolitical approaches to Syria, calls for regime change in Iran, and the intense Western attention to reform movements and government change in Burma (Myanmar).


In each of these cases, different state and non-state actors have put forward competing narratives advocating particular outcomes. These narratives are circulated, among other mechanisms, through political speeches, in the press, and via the internet. This year’s Seminar will explore the critical role of this narrative construction in shaping diplomatic outcomes. How do diplomats, journalists, and other stakeholders seek to advocate for particular outcomes, and to what effect? Conversely, how do these geopolitical pivots or shifts affect on-going narratives of democratization, shifts from authoritarian regimes, and the role of media and communications in diplomacy?