Monday, February 23, 2009

NATO and the blogosphere: Input sought by German organization

An e-mail I've received; comments welcome (or respond directly yourself,


Dear Mr. Mark Scollins,

NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy Strategy, Dr. Stefanie Babst, argues that public diplomacy needs to respond to the challenges of the Web 2.0 world and is encouraging NATO to be "more courageous in using digital tools to directly interact with the public":

NATO's New Public Diplomacy: The Art of Engaging and Influencing

"Why not widen the debate about NATO's new Strategic Concept beyond the 'usual suspects' and try to obtain new thinking through, for instance, online discussions with citizens on specific aspects of NATO's future role?"

I would appreciate your thoughts on this issue. Perhaps your readers would like to weigh in as well. I believe this is a real chance for us to demonstrate to NATO's leadership that the public is interested in a direct and transparent dialogue with policy makers.

  • Do you think NATO would benefit from engaging the blogosphere?

  • Do you think bloggers have constructive advice for NATO's specific challenges?

  • How could NATO identify and listen to the discerning bloggers and their readers? What form should such an exchange of ideas take?

Best regards,


E. Ben Heine
Head of Outreach

Atlantische Initiative e.V.
Wilhelmstrasse 67
10117 Berlin

Amtsgericht Berlin Charlottenburg
Registernummer: VR 23583Nz
Vorstand: Dr. Johannes Bohnen, Jan-Friedrich Kallmorgen
-------------------- is a project of Atlantic Initiative e.V., a Berlin based non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to furthering transatlantic cooperation.


Blogger VW said...

I got the same e-mail. My own responses are as follows:

1. Yes, NATO can and will benefit from an active engagement with the blogosphere -- as long as NATO has a clear understanding of how the blogosphere works.

2. There are bloggers out there who would have some good advice for NATO -- students of foreign relations, current and former military, active and retired diplomats. The trick is to be able to identify those with strong credentials, and to be discerning about the advice they offer.

3. The way for NATO to be really pro-active on this is threefold:

First, identify and appoint one person in NATO Public Affairs whose primary tasking is the monitoring of the Blogosphere for posts about NATO and NATO-related activities. That person should be trained in OPSEC and how the Internet works, and be able to communicate in at least two of NATO's working languages (English, French, German, etc.)

Second, empower that person to respond, officially, on behalf of NATO, to blogposts whose speculations could lead to gross misunderstandings, or which seek clarification or information, or act to promote NATO on an active basis.

Finally, let that person operate an official NATO blog. The appropriate model to follow would be what's now being done on the White House website.

4:42 p.m., February 23, 2009  

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