Digital Diplomacy: Adapting Our Diplomatic Engagement

I grew up the son of a Foreign Service Officer during the Cold War.  The issues were fairly defined, and diplomacy was most often conducted between high level officials inside governments.

What a different era we live in today -- and what a new challenge for the craft of diplomacy in an age where information, knowledge, and insight can come from an almost unlimited number of online sources instantaneously.

We've watched it, we've lived it: students in Tahrir Square, armed only with cell phones and Internet access, touching off the protest that would eventually bring about revolution in Egypt.   With so many people with powerful technology in the palm of their hand, social media has become an enabler and facilitator of social movements -- it's empowered people all over the world to have a more direct and immediate voice with their governments and with their global cohorts everywhere.

Everybody sees change now.  With social media, when you say something to one person, a thousand people hear it.

So of course there's no such thing any more as effective diplomacy that doesn't put a sophisticated use of technology at the center of all we're doing to help advance our foreign policy objectives, bridge gaps between people across the globe, and engage with people around the world and right here at home.

The term digital diplomacy is almost redundant -- it's just diplomacy, period.

So, of course, that's why today we're re-launching this blog, with a new look, more multimedia, and better access to our social media presences.  It's why I am periodically tweeting from @StateDept and blogging here on DipNote.

And it's also why I'm participating in a Google+ Hangout this Friday, May 10, to engage directly with folks here at home. In my judgment,  foreign policy isn't really foreign at all.  It is domestic policy carried into the global marketplace in an interconnected world.  If we're not out there through social media talking to people about that directly and plainly, we're just surrendering to the field to people who'd rather tell you not to care about foreign policy, let alone invest in our international efforts.

Most importantly, I want to use technology to hear from all of you; to understand your concerns; and to tap into the expertise of those outside the State Department.  By using these tools, we can create dialogue among the broadest possible audience, and begin to find common ground -- and after all, that's what diplomacy’s all about.

About the Author: John Kerry serves as the U.S. Secretary of State.



Eric J.
United States
May 6, 2013

@ Sec. Kerry,

As a member of the public who's been engaging with folks @ State since this blog was first up and running...this old dog is going to have to learn a few new tricks navigating through this new format..LOL! But I'll endeavor to muddle through.

I suppose folks @ Dipnote are still working a few bugs out of the revamped website, but what concerns me most is that none of the public commentary prior to the new format that was redily available for digestion on any given topic is available, though one can "reply" to a now non-existant public comment.
The "archives" of stories and commentary from 2007-on are seemingly gone, "up in smoke" ...disapeared into thin ethernet. This is personally really troubling to me, as if it's just gone for good, permanently, thousands of hours of personal effort trying to inspire my government (and a lot of other folks), to think; along with an unediited compilation of conversations, commentary, ideas, and no small amount of humor poking at the truth that if actually put into book form would be 3-5x longer than "War and Peace" and I've referred to by title simply as "The Cure for Political Stupidity and/or How Not To Go To War With America".

I'm concerned that there has been a destruction of intellectual property that was freely given to all concerned, and that dictators in general now no longer have a "idiot's guide" to help keep them the heck out of trouble! Or at least something to think about before causing trouble.

I hope you'll look into this see what might be done to retain Dipnote's rich history of public interactions.


Eric Jette - aka; "Eric in New Mexico" on the old Dipnote

Remi F.
South Africa
May 6, 2013

We will take it up as you said .

Jjingo B.
May 7, 2013

Am Out here connecting technology with opportunity to aid U.S. diplomacy and development; Check out  Profile on TechATState:  >> Indeed "The phrase is almost redundant" but we can resurrect it just provided you can get us engaged.

Dan S.
United States
May 7, 2013
For those who would like to learn more about digital diplomacy and how American diplomatic engagement is being transformed for today's increasingly integrated, instantaneous and information-intensive era of international relations, visit this site describing the State Department's Office of eDiplomacy, its information age initiatives and tools:
Eric J.
United States
May 9, 2013

@ Sec. Kerry,

 I was grateful to see that all the public commentary has been restored in the archives and current threads of Dipnote. I'd been looking for this following post I submitted not too long ago on the latest "Conversation with America" as it parallels something you said in your comments here;

 "In my judgment,  foreign policy isn't really foreign at all.  It is domestic policy carried into the global marketplace in an interconnected world.  If we're not out there through social media talking to people about that directly and plainly, we're just surrendering to the field to people who'd rather tell you not to care about foreign policy, let alone invest in our international efforts."


New Mexico, USA

May 4, 2013

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Well we generally think of foreign policy (as conjunct to domestic policy) as being outside our national boarders, when in fact all policy (or politics for that matter) are "local" and thus one has to properly define the notion of "foreign" when trying to engage in common human understanding on the policy level.

So my question to Mr. Hammer is, how do you put policy into "plain speak" rather than "diplo-speak"?

Do you do away with all acronyms for starters, being that most folks probably don't know the difference between an FTO and a FTA?

If a citizen were to ask you (and I'm asking) if what I'm witness to in Syria constitutes genocide on the part of Assad's government? Would you be able to answer that with a definitive "yes" or "no" and eleaborate on how you came to your conclusion logicly, having evolved over time on behalf of this government, by , for, and of its citizens?

Thanks for taking this question, there's nothing "foreign" about what is taking place, we've witnessed it all too often on this planet. Only by defining a common human understanding of it can one hope to put a stop to it.

---end post---

 Mr. Secretary, I don't know whether my comments on foreign affairs simply reinforces your's , or represents a case of parallel thinking, or simply means that I've done my job as a citizen to inspire my government to think (chuckle), but if the premis is true that;

"With social media, when you say something to one person, a thousand people hear it."

 Maybe, just maybe, this excerpt from the WH press briefing of May 6th will offer some intangible proof;


Q    You mentioned the Assad regime has murdered tens of thousands of people, in your words.  Does this rise to the level of genocide?

MR. CARNEY:  It is a level of violence by a regime against its own people that is worthy of contempt and condemnation.  What the terminology that may be used by courts or the United Nations or others I will leave to them.  But it is heinous and despicable.  It is the kind of action that long ago rendered Assad incapable of continuing in power with any kind of legitimacy.

--end excerpt--

  Mr. Secretary, I'm going to hold you to what you said in your last paragraph above, about wanting to hear from all of us and our concerns and I sure hope you can make good use of my analytical abilities, because as a citizen I'm not about to let Jay Carney off the hook that easy when I see him passing the buck like this, even if the press corps does.

 We are as a nation, a member state of the UN, signatory to the convention on the prevention of genocide and therefore not separate from the UN (along with all member states) in being obligied to make determination of what the facts on the ground in Syria represent, by definition , according and consistant with our national obligations as signatories to that convention.

 It would be completely in contradiction with our obligation "to prevent" if such determination were left to a court such as the Hague to make such a determination well after the fact, and far too late to do anything to prevent Genocide from occurring.

  Nor is it a determination made by the number of people a dictator has killed, but by his demonstrated willingness and potential to do so en mass. Such was the rationale in halting Ghaddafi's assault on Benghazi.

  Therefore I would ask that this government find the political will and accept its moral obligation to make a determination one way or another, rather than hide behind international fora to do that.

  Best Regards,


Secretary Kerry Speaks at Press Conference in Berlin
Posted by John Kerry
May 6, 2013


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