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David Miliband and Britain’s Virtual Diplomacy

Today the New America Foundation held a ‘new media’ press conference with Britain’s blogging Foreign Minister David Miliband. Miliband noted that his blogging isn’t that great since as Foreign Minister he can’t say anything interesting (which I take to mean he’s constrained by his press people, not that he doesn’t have enough material at his fingertips to blog about). Instead, he argues that the best new media work the British government is doing is from it’s younger staff and those in the field like former British Ambassador to Afghanistan Sherard Cowper-Coles, who actually had a quite interesting blog while he was posted in Kabul–which I may just like because I served there at roughly the same time.

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Here’s a video from his blog which shows his daily rounds including the dreaded daily ‘country team’ meetings (at least that’s what we called it in the US Embassy) and more interesting snapshots with some important Afghan political players such as Ashraf Ghani (who’s running for President) and the speaker of the lower house of Parliament Yunus Qanuni. This post from a trip to Helmand Province, where Britain’s troops and development efforts are focused, is also worth checking out.

It’s great to see that the British Foreign Office is encouraging their ambassadors to blog, but Cowper-Coles clearly saw it as a lot of effort, and the British Ambassador will likely be remembered more for his comments (leaked by the French) that called the American strategy in Afghanistan was doomed to failure and that our best hope was to install an ‘acceptable dictator.’ Advice, gladly, that the US hasn’t taken.

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