Our round-up of news, notes, tips and tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.
While ZunZumeo failed in Cuba, a similar U.S. initiative in Afghanistan seems to have found a foothold.
Similar American-financed programs elsewhere have failed, most spectacularly in Cuba, but Afghanistan is considered one of the great success stories from the United States’ effort to counter extremists’ violent ideology with social media. In Afghanistan, the network has achieved far more, allowing Afghans access to information as never before, bolstering education efforts and encouraging political debate, Obama administration officials say. Called Paywast, or “to connect” in Dari, a Persian language spoken by half the population, the network currently has 1.6 million users and has continued operations, although the United States ended its backing for the project in 2011. [New York Times]
Interesting interview with digital diplomacy advice from Matthias Lüfkens, the man behind the Twiplomacy studies.
The key question is whether government staffers, paid by the taxpayer, should manage personal social media accounts of our political leaders? What will happen to the accounts once they leave office? Will they take the followers with them into retirement or to a new job? I am very much in favour of having “personal-institutional” accounts such as @PMOIndia, @Pontifex and @PresidentKosovo, which will be handed down from one office holder to the next. Each leader can choose how much of his personal life he wants to share on these accounts and how much private information he/she wants to share on the personal account. [Digital Diplomacy]
— Guy Golan (@GuyGolan) April 30, 2014
It sure is easy to criticize cultural and digital diplomacy tactics. It’s not so easy to propose “smart” public diplomacy initiatives though, which this author completely neglects to do.
With a new kind of Cold War with Russia, there are renewed calls for revitalizing public diplomacy. One ambassador, Brian Carlson, proposed grants for Ukrainians to study politics here and call them “Putin Scholarships.” Instead the U.S. government has busied itself with online trolling and tweeting Buzzfeed-like listicles such as “President Putin’s Fiction: 10 False Claims about Ukraine.” It’s not that we should do away with public diplomacy or even that we should do away with covert public diplomacy, but rather we should do away with dumb public diplomacy, especially one enraptured by the magic of tweeting ambassadors and other quick technological fixes. If we couldn’t dislodge the Castro regime after 50 years, how will we dislodge it in 140 characters or less? [Florida Today]
If you are working in international government relations, propose “economic diplomacy,” it’s a can’t-miss proposition. The growing list of countries bandying it around is all the proof you need.
Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil called Wednesday for enhancing the economic role of Lebanese missions abroad as he launched a three-day workshop under the title “Economic Diplomacy.” “The Lebanese ambassador should not be ashamed of assuming the role of economic broker between investors abroad and companies from both the private and public sector in Lebanon,” Bassil said speaking during the launch of the workshop in Beirut’s Commodore Hotel. He said that Lebanese diplomats abroad should provide the foreign ministry with periodic reports about the economic activities in the country where the diplomat is stationed. [Daily Star]
For good measure, here is Jamaica talking up economic diplomacy today as well.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, says the Government has deepened and accelerated its economic diplomacy, in recognition of emerging global challenges. Mrs. Simpson Miller told the House of Representatives while making her presentation in the 2014/2015 Budget Debate on April 29 that the government “will continue to seek opportunities that maximize our economic potential.” [Jamaica Information Service]
— Gastrodiplomacy (@gastrodiplomacy) April 30, 2014
Interesting interview with Macon Phillips, head of the Bureau of International Information Programs at the Department of State.
The fundamental idea is that it’s not enough to talk to people anymore. You have to be able to have a conversation and that also includes listening and a healthy dose of empathy. People talk about engagement a lot, particularly social media. And many times that’s code for a new way to broadcast: I want more people to share my contents, I want to get more likes so it’s seen. And that only gets you so far. The true opportunity with social media is dialogue. And dialogue is the fundamental engine of diplomacy. And so, really looking at how we can both use the new tools and networks to get information out and reach audiences in a more efficient way, but also to empower individuals to engage with government around issues they care about. [Public Address]
— USC Public Diplomacy (@PublicDiplomacy) April 30, 2014