I found this interesting article online at Foreign Policy magazine. It’s written by James K. Glassman, a former State Department official. Mr. Glassman encourages the use of social media and offers a balanced assessment of the State Department’s efforts, especially since the outbreak of violent protests in the Muslim world over the online Innocence of Muslims video.
I think Glassman’s assessment and recommendations are worth considering. He says the US needs (1) a clear policy on the new emerging order in the Middle East, (2) a clear policy on dealing with inciteful representations of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed, and (3) a clear and forceful statement of American principles in the face of violence.
A bigger problem, however, is that I suspect the Obama administration did not have a clear policy on how to handle scurrilous videos, cartoons, and the like. The rioting that followed the Danish cartoon controversy in 2005 caused Bush officials, me included, to work hard preparing for another such event. We were sure it would happen again.
The right response today, I believe, has three parts, and the order is important: 1) violence is never acceptable, and America will take strong action if its people and property are attacked, 2) we believe in the principle of free speech, and 3) all religions deserve respect.
Effective public diplomacy begins with clear ends (which, as an aside, I am not so sure the United States has in Egypt or other parts of the Middle East), and leaders have the responsibility to communicate up and down the line both those ends and the right messages to achieve them. Get that right, and then liberated diplomats on the ground can use the amazing tool of social media — a gift, really — to powerful effect.
Read more – Keep on Tweetin’ – By James K. Glassman | Foreign Policy.
I think we can agree with Mr. Glassman’s nonpartisan approach to international diplomacy and using social media.