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YouTube Diplomacy

08 April, 2009
By Allison Orr

President Barack Obama has used YouTube to launch the first major diplomatic initiative of his presidency.  He has recorded a message talking directly to the Iranian people on the occasion of Norwuz (Iranian New Year).    The message, with captions in Farsi, runs for three and a half minutes, and was uploaded to the White House website and YouTube.  The video has been downloaded nearly 100,000 times.

In the video, the president spoke of Iran’s "great and celebrated culture" and, noting that relations between the US and Iran have been strained for nearly three decades, he appealed to Iranians for  a "new day" in relations between the two countries.  Obama highlighted the "common humanity that binds us", "shared hopes" and "common dreams".  He then goes on to speak directly to Iran’s leaders, saying that the administration is committed to diplomacy and is seeking engagement that is "honest and grounded in mutual respect".

Said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, "This has been spreading like wildfire on the Internet," he told AFP.  "It's just amazing the number of emails I've received from people both in the US and in Iran wishing each other a happy new year and then there's a link at the bottom to the president's message."

Andrew Rasiej, co-founder of, believes the Internet will have as profound an effect on diplomacy as it has had in politics.  "The Internet doesn't only represent an opportunity to remake politics in the United States", he said.  "It has the opportunity to reinvent diplomacy by not only having diplomats talk to each other but by engaging citizens talking to each other, debating common issues and goals."  Rasiej added, this is the “first step in 21st century citizen-to-citizen diplomacy led by the first true 21st century president," Rasiej added.

You can see the whole video address at Youtube: President's Message to the Iranian People

Also view a news anaylsis of the video: TheRealNews

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