This survey is an account of how American diplomacy is being reshaped by forces that are moving the United States from an industrial democracy to a new form of postindustrial, information-intensive society whose outlines are still unclear.
Foreign policy is only one piece in the mosaic of changes propelling us into a new era. It has, however, a special importance in defining and carrying out U.S. strategic relations with the world outside our borders. The digital revolution touches on every aspect of American interests in the transition to a global information age.
The shift began over 150 years ago with the invention of the Morse telegraph. My focus, however, is on recent decades, which have seen the development of advanced computers, communications satellites, semiconductor chips and the other building blocks of a new information infrastructure. The latest addition to this list, the Internet, may bring about the most profound changes of all. What is certain is that these technical breakthroughs have far outpaced our political, economic and social attempts to deal with them effectively.
I have had occasional qualms about suggesting a new name for the subject under discussion here—digital diplomacy. For the present, it may be a useful, if temporary, addition to a long tradition that has seen such predecessors as gunboat diplomacy, dollar diplomacy, quiet diplomacy, shuttle diplomacy, ping-pong diplomacy and, more recently, public diplomacy.
By way of full disclosure, I was involved in many of the events described in this work. This began in December 1966 when, as a foreign service officer, I was assigned to the White House as manager of a survey