At the event "Public Diplomacy 2.0," held on December 12 2008, the
Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy James Glassman spoke about the use
of new media technologies in public diplomacy. He argues that the evolution of
new media has resulted in an open competition of ideas that ultimately gives the
United States a comparative advantage over radicalized ideologies that require
insulation from criticism.
Glassman used Columbia as an example
of how informal internet groups can connect different parts of civil society and
rapidly organize real mass political activism. This, he argues, is an example of
what he calls "internet 2.0" which consists of the social networking, blogging
and information aggregating tools that nurture individual expression and the
competition of ideas. Glassman points out that while ideological radicalists
seemed to have a technological edge in the early part of the war on terror with
their many websites for recruiting, training and indoctrinating, the internet
2.0 is more problematic for their ends. The insulation necessary for their
doctrines does not stand well in the open information exchanges of new media
technologies. As such, Glassman's conclusion is that new media technology offers
a comparative advantage for American public diplomacy.
goes onto explain that Public Diplomacy 2.0 is not a matter simply marketing
America better abroad, as more traditional public diplomacy is sometimes
considered. Instead of preaching philosophy or arguing policy, Public Diplomacy
2.0 focuses on the mode of discourse, promoting the competition of
ideas instead of specific ideas.
Glassman concludes by reminding
the audience that soft power is not a sufficient substitute for hard power, but
it is a necessary condition for establishing the moral integrity America needs
in order to win hearts and minds with foreign policy.
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