As the new president-elect prepares to take office, traditional analysts scramble to prepare policy papers on their public diplomacy recommendations. In keeping with the twist of the Trump candidacy, it seems fitting to turn the tables and see what insights public diplomacy may glean from the Trump run. Social media, emotion, and identity are redefining traditional strategies, and Trump has exploited these shifting communication dynamics.
What can public diplomacy learn from Trump's playbook?
Taiwan’s president didn’t meet with President-elect Donald Trump during her closely watched U.S. stopover this weekend. But she did visit his favorite communication outlet. Tsai Ing-wen posted photos of her tour of Twitter Inc.’s headquarters in San Francisco on her verified account on the social-media site. It was her first tweet in more than two years, and it appeared directed to a global audience.
Tweets, of course, do not speak. They are lines, no more than 140 characters, broadcast to the world, lacking the context of a 40-page policy paper or even a full paragraph tossed off during a backyard barbecue. And the utterings of the next president often prompt a slew of questions about how they relate to policy or international diplomacy and whether they promote falsehoods or increase global instability.
Building the systems and structures to manage that, particularly in managing a potentially messy and dangerous confrontation in the Baltic states or South China Sea, is going to be a challenge. Other more subtle forms of communication -- unacknowledged direct telephone calls, messages delivered through spies, envoys and allies -- have also not gone away. But they will now be taking place at the same time as what could be frantic social media changes.
Social media has empowered isis recruiting, helping the group draw at least 30,000 foreign fighters, from some 100 countries, to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. It has aided the seeding of new franchises in places ranging from Libya and Afghanistan to Nigeria and Bangladesh. It was the vehicle isis used to declare war on the United States...