u.s. department of state

Tom Cochran, the Chief Technology Officer at Atlantic Media and the former Director of New Media Technologies at the White House, is joining the State Department on Monday to take the lessons of the Obama campaign and apply them to American foreign policy around the globe.

While successful people-to-people diplomacy always requires hard work and creativity, a little star power never hurts.  So when recently-retired Major League Baseball great Ken Griffey, Jr. joined 2004 Olympic softball gold medalist Natasha Watley to serve as State Department sports envoys for “Diamond Diplomacy” activities in Mexico City from February 28 to March 4, the program was destined to sparkle.

It has had its fair share of social media scandals and been accused of buying fake Facebook likes, but the White House believes the benefits of being an active participant in the uncertain world of social media still far outweigh the risks. It calls it digital diplomacy.

Diplomacy, like negotiation and card playing, is an old, traditional ‘art’. To succeed at all three, the player needs an edge over his or her opponents, an edge based on preparation, confidence and cultural acuity. The more you know going in, the greater your chances of ultimate success.

I had written a couple months ago about the seemingly uncoordinated and scattershot approach in which U.S. embassies engage in the name of public diplomacy. An interlocutor pointed me to a speech delivered by retired Foreign Service officer Donald Bishop to the Council of American Ambassadors earlier this fall. While so many practitioners of public diplomacy circle the wagons to protect budgets and the system they know and in which they thrive, Bishop speaks directly.

The deteriorating security situation throughout much of the Arab world underscores the need to urgently search for nonviolent methods of achieving stability. At the heart of the current unrest are not only political issues but also economic failures that are wiping out the vestiges of hope that remain after the region’s recent revolutions. In conflict situations, public diplomacy must be employed carefully. Sometimes the swirl of violence becomes so pervasive that it sucks up the oxygen needed for peaceful enterprise to survive.

Richard Stengel, the managing editor of Time magazine, is leaving to become under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs at the State Department, according to people familiar with the appointment. Mr. Stengel replaces Tara Sonenshine, who held the post with Secretaries of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Kerry before leaving in July.

Union Human Resources and Development Minister M M Pallam Raju's visit has laid the groundwork for refining and enhancing educational partnership between the United States and India, a US official has said.

"His visit laid the groundwork for refining and enhancing our educational partnership and conversations begun during the Minister's trip will feed directly into June's Dialogue," said Tara D Sonenshine, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

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