March 16, 2004
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
The Internet is a global resource whose control and allocation is a matter of political power; instead of doing away with geopolitics, the Net creates new areas of national interest and foreign policy concerns. This essay doesn't presume to offer a doctrine for foreign policy in the Internet age. Its more modest goal is to raise a number of empirical matters that governments collectively face regarding the network. Together, they reveal a new and mature way of understanding the medium. The first part explains Internet governance, or "infrastructural coordination." Part two looks at it from the perspective of national interest, with an emphasis on US interests. Part three notes how these interests map to specific ICANN issues, which are concerns of international relations. The fourth part tries to explain why ICANN matters not just for students of politics and international affairs, but for ordinary individuals, companies and other stakeholders. Finally, the essay concludes by analyzing current tensions concerning the Internet's institutionalization.
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