REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, By: Azyumardi Azra
Discussion of "round table" on "Soft Power” and Public Diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific: Emerging Models and Trends" (Griffith University in Brisbane, 18-20 / 5/2016), showing an increasing interest in exploring various aspects of public diplomacy.
The discussion mainly related to the theory and practice of fitting in diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific region, which stretches from from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, from mainland China to New Zealand-which lies far below.
Indo-Pacific region is relatively quite integrated. The area is characterized a number of differences in political, economic, socio-cultural, and religious. The difference and diversity that does not fail to be a source of disputes and even conflicts.
In the diversity of the countries in the Indo-Pacific region face many similar challenges and opportunities. Indo-Pacific region can be considered as a very dynamic area, generally safe, peaceful, and stable compared to West Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
The turmoil and political conflicts, ethnic and religion in North Korea, Myanmar, southern Thailand (Patani), and Southern Philippines (Mindanao) does not cause instability in the Indo-Pacific region as a whole.
However, the threat to the stability of the Indo-Pacific region also increased with an increase in radicalism in the name of religion. This is seen in Buddhist radicalism in Myanmar or persistence of radical Abu Sayyaf group in Mindanao.
The liberation of a number of Indonesian crew detained Abu Sayyaf group involves various parties through soft power, not hard power.
The threat to the stability of the Indo-Pacific region also comes from the spread of ISIS. The latter party was even able to recruit people from the Indo-Pacific region; they then went to Syria; many of them were killed; but some of them back to their respective countries-creates a threat to the stability of the Indo-Pacific region.
Maintenance of the apparent stability is an important factor for the improvement of economic progress, socio-cultural, political and Indo-Pacific region. To that end, it is necessary to strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation, not only at the governmental level, but also at various institutions and segments of society.
In that context, the urgency lies in the increase of public diplomacy between the various countries of the Indo-Pacific region in particular. In this way, as well as an increase in the use of soft power that is "cheaper" than the hard power of military and weapons which far more expensive.
Again, in the conversation in Brisbane, public diplomacy is understood as "total diplomacy". By doing so, public diplomacy with not only government agencies, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but also a variety of non-government institutions with non-state actors.
Total diplomacy, was clearly not limited to the political realm of both in domestic and in the international arena. Various instruments are covered in soft power can be addressed as part of the total diplomacy in creating a regional or global environment for a more secure and harmonious state.
Therefore, education, culture, art, religious traditions, sports, and so on can be empowered for the benefit of total diplomacy at an international level. Here, the state can mobilize the potential that exists in this field through cooperation with non-governmental organizations and institutions.
Indonesia since the post-Soeharto era has intensified public diplomacy. As the third largest democracy in the world and at the same time as the world's largest Muslim nation-state was not a small-Indonesia need to project yourself assertively into the international arena.
No less important, as the country's Muslim majority democracy, Indonesia is also increasingly expected a lot of the international community play a greater role. In the international constellation, Indonesia belongs to the typology of middle power, a middle power that has an important role as force of mediation and mediators.
Unfortunately, in recent years, Indonesia looks as if no pretensions to meet these expectations. There is visible dwindling of Indonesian public diplomacy activities involving civil society in the international arena.
For example, at the time of President SBY, Indonesia became one of the few countries-in fact the only Muslim-majority countries that are active in the introduction and consolidation of democracy.
This is done through the Bali Democracy Forum (BDF). However, President Jokowi BDF lowering of the level of heads of state / head of government to the ministerial level.
As a big country, Indonesia should play a role internationally. Therefore, Indonesia is not a place looking only at its internal affair but looking at it more in its role both domestically and internationally.
Therefore, Indonesia needs to revitalize public diplomacy to make the world a more orderly, safe and civilized place.