The publics are coming! The publics are here! The corporations are coming! The corporations are here!

A variation on the 1966 film "The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming" speaks to a steady pattern in international relations whose origins could be arguably be dated to the emergence of the nation-state but certainly is vivid today. Global publics are increasingly powerful, and we know that private firms are, too. This piece in The Atlantic - (hat tip to the USC Public Diplomacy Center RSS) is only my most recent reminder of the commercial drive for profit in nascent or re-emerging markets, whether or not governments are ready for it. Where do the meanings of "public" and "governmental" and "private" begin and end? Ever boundary-spanning diplomats have to navigate and mediate between and across the overlapping interests and identities of civil society ethnic groups, co-religionists, unions and political activists (to mention just a few), their budget- and turf-conscious embassy and home ministry colleagues as well kick-start entrepreneurs and corporate giants. How? Public-private partnership -- a proliferating organizational patchwork with which scholars and government actors can barely keep up -- at our peril. In spite of the rise of independence-through-information and de- and self-regulation, these three dimensions of global society are interdependent and people still crave the rule of law and credible institutions. PPPs are coming! PPPs are here!

-Debbie Trent