You might call Hillary Clinton the ur-diplomat of the digital age. Under her guidance, the U.S. State Department embraced new technology in a way no secretary of state has done since the fax machine. Forbetter or worse, Clinton added a new dimension to the way Washington engages with the rest of the world.
With rumors that John Kerry may be tapped to take Clinton's place when she departs the agency this month comes rising speculation over how the current chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee might handle State's technological mandate. But a better question isn't what would happen to "21st-century statecraft" under Kerry -- it's what it would take to convince Kerry to consider digital a priority.
Kerry is a manager, and a very capable one. But he's not an ideas man. So unless there's a compelling argument to do something differently, he'll simply leave alone many of the programs Clinton put in place. That's especially true for a project like digital diplomacy, which is valuable precisely because it distributes responsibility downward and away from top-level officials. The next stage of digital diplomacy's development will be hard not because Kerry has some devious plan to dismantle it but because he has no reason to pay attention to it.
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