Hundreds of Chinese Students and Faculty filled the auditorium of Tianjin University of Sport for the inauguration ceremony of a unique new center that will share U.S. culture through the medium of sport.

The majority of U.S. embassies now use Twitter, a sign of the aggressive push by the State Department to bring diplomacy into the social media age. According to a new analysis from the Sunlight Foundation, 121 U.S. embassies have Twitter accounts and 54 do not.

True public diplomacy differs because it has a broader reach, it goes beyond the influential few to the masses, it seeks out a new audience and encourages the communities overseas to adopt a positive and open outlook. This is vitally important for a small country like Australia.

The most successful cultural diplomacy strategy integrates people to people or arts/culture/media to people interactions into the basic business of diplomacy. The programs in Afghanistan, Egypt, and Iran all contribute to core goals of U.S. policy in those countries. Each succeeds by empowering local voices, rather than by conveying ideas through American emissaries.

The important factor about U.S. engagement via web 2.0 is not that that the government is using it, but rather that it doesn’t address the core problems of engagement overseas: fortress embassies, a lack of understanding, and failures to follow through on commitments.

A vestige of the “anti-public diplomacy” of the previous decade is likely to get trimmed. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, a giant of a compound that dwarfs in physical size and the number of people of any other diplomatic post, U.S. or otherwise, is likely to shrink. According to The New York Times, the compound costs $6 billion annually. (Seriously?)

For the first time, international audiences were able to watch the State of the Union Address live on U.S. embassy and consulate websites. Our missions in Cambodia, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, and Turkey had among the highest views of the webcast, and more than 60 posts amplified the speech on social media platforms, where they engaged their online communities via Facebook and Twitter.

Second, the rapid and frightening militarization of the conflict has seriously reduced the space for public diplomacy, as Embassy personnel (and Ford himself) have few opportunities to get out to engage.