Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The View from the Minefield

Since I was just making fun of the terrible State Department blog Dipnote, I think it is instructive to compare the offerings at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office for perspective. A number of FCO Bloggers are reporting on their diplomatic activities abroad.

The most high profile blogger is, of course, the head of the foreign office, David Milliband, who is also known for using YouTube to foster discussion about climate change. I'm not sure about the wisdom of posting Flickr photos with "the Muslim's worlds' biggest rock star," but his somewhat stiff -- by online video standards -- Eid message seemed nonetheless rhetorically appropriate. After reading more closely, I was impressed to see him actually devote posts to readers' gripes, which I'll confess that I don't do here on Virtualpolitik. Unlike many U.S. officials, he also kept up a raft of the critical reader comments in response to a posting about the resettlement of Iraqi nationals who risk their lives working with foreign office officials. (For more about this issue, see my take on the issue.) Most remarkable of all is perhaps his blogroll, which includes links to blogs for other political parties and some interesting sources about e-government, along with those to his hometown newspaper and favorite soccer team.

I think that the Home Office might be right that it is the blog of the quintessentially English, gray-haired, khaki-jacketed Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles that is most likely to develop a cult following, however. Cowper-Coles uses YouTube video blogging remarkably effectively to show the life of a diplomat in Afghanistan hanging out with former mujahideen commanders and grimly looking at mountain ranges dotted with landmines. As a francophile and rugby fan, I probably liked this entry best.

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