Transformational diplomacy in action at Dipnote

That was fast: The good folks at Dipnote, the new blog of the U.S. State Department, have heard our complaint and updated their blogroll to include FP Passport. Who says the State Department bureaucracy is cumbersome? Obviously, there are some folks with fine taste over there in Foggy Bottom. I should note that it’s a ...

598876_071003_dipnote_0_15.jpg
598876_071003_dipnote_0_15.jpg

That was fast: The good folks at Dipnote, the new blog of the U.S. State Department, have heard our complaint and updated their blogroll to include FP Passport. Who says the State Department bureaucracy is cumbersome? Obviously, there are some folks with fine taste over there in Foggy Bottom.

I should note that it's a great sign that State is doing this, and especially that the blog allows comments. One other interesting project that State has embarked upon is having a few of its Arabic speakers go into mainstream Arabic-language online fora such as al-Jazeera, BBC Arabic, and Elaph.com and try to combat misperceptions of U.S. policy. What I like about this effort is that State's commenters are not trying to hide their State department affiliations, but are openly posting in their own names and as State Department employees. That's a good thing, Saudi political analyst Adel al-Toraifi told the New York Times:

Toraifi said the bloggers had generated some debate in the Arab World and had been the subject of a column in an Algerian newspaper lauding the State Department for discussing policy with ordinary people, something the writer said the Algerian government would never do. Indeed, several analysts said having State Department employees on the Web helps to counter one source of radicalization - the sense that Washington is too arrogant to listen to the grievances of ordinary Arabs, so violence is the sole means to attract attention.

That was fast: The good folks at Dipnote, the new blog of the U.S. State Department, have heard our complaint and updated their blogroll to include FP Passport. Who says the State Department bureaucracy is cumbersome? Obviously, there are some folks with fine taste over there in Foggy Bottom.

I should note that it’s a great sign that State is doing this, and especially that the blog allows comments. One other interesting project that State has embarked upon is having a few of its Arabic speakers go into mainstream Arabic-language online fora such as al-Jazeera, BBC Arabic, and Elaph.com and try to combat misperceptions of U.S. policy. What I like about this effort is that State’s commenters are not trying to hide their State department affiliations, but are openly posting in their own names and as State Department employees. That’s a good thing, Saudi political analyst Adel al-Toraifi told the New York Times:

Toraifi said the bloggers had generated some debate in the Arab World and had been the subject of a column in an Algerian newspaper lauding the State Department for discussing policy with ordinary people, something the writer said the Algerian government would never do. Indeed, several analysts said having State Department employees on the Web helps to counter one source of radicalization – the sense that Washington is too arrogant to listen to the grievances of ordinary Arabs, so violence is the sole means to attract attention.

At the end of the day, public diplomacy of this sort can only do so much; it’s the policies that have to change before Arabs will embrace the United States. (Just as the State Department has a lot of work to do before most pundits will pronounce it a healthy institution.) But there’s nothing wrong with open dialogue. In that spirit, I hope that Dipnote embraces its comment section as an asset and, as Mark Leon Goldberg stresses, gets engaged with other bloggers instead of just regurgitating press releases and standard talking points. We all understand the need to stay on message, but nobody wants to read a blog full of the usual boilerplate.

(Thanks to Passport reader JR for the tip.) 

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