The Need for Synergy in Modern-Day Diplomacy

This week I found some of Kelley’s (2010) ideas slightly corresponding with my post from week 1 where I suggested that public diplomacy doesn’t really change the rules of the diplomatic ‘game’, but rather adds a publicly available dimension to it and creates an illusion of power in the hands of the people.

Kelley implies that public diplomacy has created a plethora of messages by non-state actors that forms various networks and alliances. There are big gaps between the positions of these different actors and between their positions and the official diplomatic messages. Despite the clear benefits of this more democratic form of conducting diplomacy, Kelley stresses the need for synergy in order to direct the power of separate actors to a concrete action. The best way to coordinate positions and create this synergy remains the official diplomatic channel that can unite the non-governmental actors and communicate the message to the relevant policy makers.

Moreover Kelley suggests that ‘big’ decisions such as signing of international treaties or legislation towards creation of new norms are still executed almost exclusively by official policy makers communicating through official diplomatic channels. Here as well, it implies from the article that the best way for the ‘new diplomats’ (p.293) to communicate their messages is still by joining forces with “their official counterparts” (p. 293).

So it looks like the essential power yet remains in the hands of the ‘old diplomats’ (ibid). The new types of diplomacy such as public and cultural diplomacy are important in filling in the gaps in governmental actions, however the new ways do not appear to replace the classic diplomatic communication between states. 

5 thoughts on “The Need for Synergy in Modern-Day Diplomacy”

  1. Thank you for the post Alona. You bring up some excellent points. I think that with anything “new” people tend to exaggerate its impact. While I believe that the concept of Public Diplomacy has a HUGE potential to help change the way the public is able to participate in politics in a more direct way than they were just a few decades ago, I think there are limits to what is possible. The fact is that with the exception of more public participation, ultimately the major decision makers are still the same. The speed and transfer of information is what is new and remarkable but unfortunately people are still going to stick with what they already know and understand for the most part.

    More information than ever is available but it is really up to the individual to decide what to do with it. People who are in power can still influence and produce legislation with little influence from the public. As much as I see the benefit in PD and the chance to encourage dialogue and collaboration as opposed to the monolgue that tended to exist when it came to diplomatic efforts ( and still exists today more often than not), there are still limits to what the public can do and there are limits to how much politicians are willing to be swayed by outlets like social media.

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