THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Some Chinese social media users
accused the embassy of waging a “public
opinion war,” but Weber insisted that it
was a standard exercise in public diplo-
macy and outreach by the embassy.
But how useful are these online
efforts? According to Shaun Riordan,
a British senior visiting fellow at the
Netherlands Institute of International
Relations, foreign ministries and embas-
sies seem to have become obsessed with
having a social media presence for its
But simply being online is not
enough anymore, Riordan writes in aUSC Center for Public Diplomacy blog post. Social media should be used to
advance national objectives—not alone,
but as one of many digital tools available
to today’s diplomats, he says.
Riordan adds that engaging in social
media is resource-intensive. So, both in
terms of time and people, it is essential
for diplomats to get all that they can
from their chosen channels.
Social media can be used to gather
information, gauge public opinion and
even communicate warnings. Riordan
believes that, combined with data min-
ing, it can be used to provide real-time
information about attacks, natural
disasters and political crises. But while
diplomats are making sure that their
Twitter and Instagram feeds are up to
date, Riordan argues, they should also
be making use of other digital tools—
online platforms and computer “games”
that can be used to simulate crises and
try out contingency plans.
These tools can help diplomats, states
and non-state actors to come together
to shape key global debates, Riordan
concludes—but only if they can escape
the obsession with social media.
Senate Picks Up
Pace on Confirmations
he speed of confirmations and pro-
motions during the past year or so has
steadily been returning to the timeframe
that was more common in the 2000s—
approximately two to three months.
Those who follow AFSA’s work on
ambassadorial nominees and Foreign
Service promotion lists will remember
that in the last few years, the pace of con-
firmation had slowed to a crawl.
At one point, more than 1,800 names
on Foreign Service promotion and tenure
lists sat unconfirmed for more than a year.
AFSA worked to break that logjam and
implement new procedures.
On May 17, the Senate confirmed the
nominations of eight members of the
career Foreign Service: Robert Annan
Riley III as ambassador to Micronesia,
Karen Brevard Stewart as ambassador to
the Marshall Islands, Adam Sterling as
ambassador to the Slovak Republic, Kelly
Keiderling-Franz as ambassador to Uru-
guay, Stephen M. Schwartz as ambassador
to Somalia, Christine Ann Elder as ambas-
sador to Liberia and Elizabeth Holzhall
Richard as ambassador to Lebanon.
Each of these new ambassadors is a
career Foreign Service officer. The Sen-
ate also confirmed career FSOMatthew
John Matthews as Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation Senior Official.
The following day, the Senate con-
firmed more than 300 promotions and
tenures on Foreign Service lists from four
agencies: the Department of State, U.S.
Agency for International Development,
Foreign Commercial Service and Animal
and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Those lists had been submitted to the
Senate only a few weeks previously. AFSA
congratulates all those who have been
confirmed in recent weeks.