Book Review – Digital Diplomacy: Conversations on Innovation in Foreign Policy

Digital Diplomacy explores what it means to be innovative in foreign policy and diplomacy. Digital and social media technologies are having an impact on everyday life and also on diplomatic practice, notably on the ways governments engage foreign publics. While the fundamentals of diplomacy may remain the same, and the traditional tools are by no means discarded, diplomacy in today’s world is more public, participative and global due to the emergence of new communication platforms. Governments can reach wider, even global audiences, and non-state actors and even individuals are empowered by instant communications, in a process that creates both opportunities and challenges.

Tom Fletcher, the British Ambassador to Beirut, underlines the importance of these trends when he states in the Preface to this volume that “in the ten years since 9/11, that world has been transformed more by American geeks in dorms than by Al Qaeda operatives in caves” (p. xi). The result is the creation of a new context for diplomacy in which “it matters less what a minister or official says is our policy on an issue than what users of Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc., decide it is.”

This review has been published by the Global Policy Journal. Click here to continue reading.

 

Book Review – Covering Bin Laden: Global Media and the World’s Most Wanted Man

Covering Bin Laden: Global Media and the World’s Most Wanted Man edited by Susan Jeffords and Fahed Al-Sumait. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2015. 259 pp, $95 hardcover 978-0-252-03886-0, $30 paperback 978-0-252-08040-1, E-book 978-0-252-09682-2

This review must start with a note of caution: this is not a book about Osama bin Laden. The aim of the editors and authors is not to add another interpretation on what bin Laden and Al Qaeda have been or, in the latter case, currently is. What they do here is take the real and symbolic figure of Osama bin Laden as a critical axis to explore the interplay between politics and media during the Global War on Terror. The result is a kaleidoscope that illuminates how news media represent and re-create reality and how those representations translate into concrete policy action.

As the title reminds us, Osama bin Laden became the world’s most wanted man in the decade from the 9/11 attacks to his capture and killing in Abbottabad (Pakistan) in 2011. Al Qaeda was presented as the paradigm of an entirely new type of terrorism: without parallel in history, and ready to kill as many civilians as they could in the name of some indiscernible millenarian views. Hunting bin Laden became the supreme goal. In pursuit of it, governments reshaped geopolitical relations and domestic politics, and launched wars.

You can continue reading in Global Policy Journal.