The Naked Diplomat

Episode 9,   Dec 06, 2019, 03:04 PM

Former British diplomat Tom Fletcher discusses the transformative possibilities of digital technology on diplomacy and how we can marshal it to confront national threats. Listen now!

Tom Fletcher is a former British diplomat, writer and campaigner. From 2011 to 2015, he was the UK’s Ambassador to Lebanon. He is now a visiting professor at NYU and author of The Naked Diplomat. When he left Beirut, and the UK’s Foreign Office in 2015, Fletcher wrote a farewell blog to Lebanon. Having emphasized that “digital will change diplomacy” he suggested that someone write a book about how digital will also change power by asking: “How we can marshal it to confront the threats to our existence.” Naked Diplomacy sets out three themes: The first two draw on Fletcher’s experiences in the Foreign Office and a detailed overview of international diplomacy. It ends by listing the essential qualities of a good diplomat: tact, curiosity, courage, and the ability to win friends. Diplomacy, Fletcher says, is too important to be left to diplomats and he calls on us “citizen diplomats” to engage with it, to wield power.

Arab News described Fletcher as the “anti-diplomat” – not because he sees no value in diplomacy, but in his steadfast refusal to live up to the stereotype expected of the ambassadorial profession. In 2017, he published a report on the future of the UN on how technology can help the organization. Drawing on contributions from young people, tech gurus, civil society, governments, and business, it sets out 20 concrete ideas that can help the UN ready itself for the digital age. Fletcher was recently ranked the fourth most influential international personality in the Middle East.