Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Diplomacy Goes Public

January 15, 2010

Francis J. Ricciardone Jr., US deputy ambassador to Afghanistan, described a continuing trend toward much more engaged public diplomacy during a visit to the Institute in November.

Expectations of 30 years ago were that a diplomat would be an introverted but brilliant foreign policy analyst, he said in a free-ranging interview with Institute Director Michael Kennedy. Today, in contrast, diplomacy could involve delivering public health, teaching, setting up institutions of government, or helping start new businesses, he said.

The past emphasis on a “global war on terrorism” is ceding to a focus on engagement – interactions and flows of people and technologies. “We’re more prepared to collaborate,” he said. “You can see societies in the remaking; it’s exciting stuff.”

There is also much more openness in the machinery of the US government to working with the academy and nongovernmental organizations, he said. “That’s now a normal part of the way we do business,” he said.