Waiting for Nigel: Embassy Brits Join Blogosphere


obama brown british ambassador residence.jpg
(I would have loved to have been the official blogger with these guys. . .)
When I started The Washington Note, my colleagues (particularly my boss) were not thrilled. They didn’t get what a blog was and didn’t understand how a blog could be an oped a day, could help agitate for a better world, could help sink a UN Ambassador’s confirmation bid in the Senate, or how it was a sounding board for bad and good ideas to share with others eager to zap the blogger with feedback.
Fortunately, their disinterest in blogging gave me the space to build it up and experiment. Now, lots of others are into the game — and the New America Foundation has embraced the medium strongly. Even our relatively new president, Steve Coll who moonlights as a Pulitzer Prize writing book author and staff writer for the New Yorker has a blog situated at the magazine titled “Think Tank.” Some of my other education policy colleagues launched Higher Ed Watch which broke the student loan scandal last year. We also have the American Strategist and even The Havana Note where former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson is blogging up a storm.
And with a foot inside New America and one in the the private world of nuclear wonks, my friend and colleague Jeffrey Lewis publishes Arms Control Wonk.
But now the British Embassy has launched a new blog. I became one of the first in the blogosphere to pay tribute to its eventual emergence in a funny piece that suggested that John Cleese be its online introducer and occasional big ideas narrator. My understanding is that they tried to secure Cleese — but he’s under water somewhere. It would be soooo good with Cleese.
In any case, the British Embassy is at it — and the staff there are following in the able footsteps of British Foreign Minister David Miliband’s committed (and candid) blogging.
I see that the roster of bloggers includes British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald — who has been very good at using his dinner convening power to assemble some of the most interesting political observers in Washington. Only problem is that he’s not going to be able to blog most of the cool stuff he hears as its just about always off the record (except for maybe. . .Gordon Brown and David Miliband).
Frequently, people lean over to me and tell me something is off the record as they think I’ll divulge stuff I perhaps shouldn’t. But really — I never do. Really, I don’t. . .
I can’t wait until people begin telling Ambassador Sheinwald, “Please Nigel. . .off the record, OK?”
Just the other evening, the Ambassador was kind enough to invite me to join Joe Trippi, Stuart Rothenberg and Michael Barone in a discussion with one of the UK’s foreign secretaries. I can say it happened — but won’t convey the fascinating discussion we all had that night. I wish we had recorded it.
But I do very much hope that the Ambassador finds his blogging voice and posts something soon.
And the only other recommendation I have for my new British blogging colleagues is that they replace those rather stiff yearbook photo mug shots with ones showing them with their respective pets, or perhaps playing their favorite sport. . .
At least something more Cleese-friendly.
— Steve Clemons


10 comments on “Waiting for Nigel: Embassy Brits Join Blogosphere

  1. TonyForesta says:

    Those who refuse to countenance dissent, or alternate opinion are doomed to confront it, as the Buckley’s well know. Ignoring facts to pimp the partyline is abberant policy and practice, and doomed to fail. Basic math is the ultimate truth, and “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Fascist – evidently cannot add or multiply (though they do focus on subtraction and division).
    Keep up the good work Mr. Clemons because the underlying math is on our side, – not theirs, – and in the end, quoting Pythagoras – “All is numbers.” America is upsidedown. We either right this wrong and or suffer the terrible consequences.


  2. David says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for moving ahead with The Washington Note in spite of the early resistance at the foundation, and thanks also to Josh Marshall for encouraging you. The Washington Note and Talking Points Memo are two essential stops on my e-commute.


  3. Mr.Murder says:

    Cue Benny Hill theme music and a cast of wacky bank executives and their bailout nationalized shenanigans….


  4. carsick says:

    I’ve mentioned this before, now perhaps years ago in either a comment or in an email, but I want to thank you once again for not only giving me an insightful opinion but also an informed one.
    Everybody’s got opinions but not many are as informed and connected as you.
    What’s the term…Oh yes, you are a reliable source.


  5. Canuck Stuck in Muck says:

    Hi, Steve,
    I hope this isn’t too far OT. Given the thoroughgoing
    corporatism demonstrated by the Bush administration and its
    tentacles, and given the evidently negative effect it’s had on our
    economy, our legal system (DOJ, specifically), our electoral
    system (Diebold voting machines, e.g.), and on our global
    reputation (blood for oil, and all that), isn’t it about time this
    country convened another continental conference, a
    constitutional conference, to enshrine a separation of
    corporation and state, in the same way that the establishment
    clause proscribes religious interference in the state’s affairs?
    Back when the Founders were operating, there was no such
    thing as a corporation, much less a multinational conglomerate.
    The greatest fear in those times was of the monarchy and the
    church. We still have the church to fear, I’ll admit, but not the
    monarchy (arguments re: King George Bush notwithstanding).
    However, we have much to fear about the influence of
    corporations on government, and the results of an unholy
    marriage of the two.
    A constitutional conference. That’s the ticket.


  6. cooniburi says:

    Aye, Sheinwald is the lad (edited) that stopped the public knowing about Bush’s bomb Al Jazeera memo as it was a “state secret”.


  7. Karl says:

    The Brits have been doing a lot of good things lately. After a rough start Brown and his team have really lead the way on the economic crises and David Miliband has been doing some great things internationally. I hope Brown is able to turn around Labor’s fortunes and win another term and after that Miliband becomes Labor’s leader.
    Thanks for pointing this out Steve. It has been added to my RSS feeds next to TWN. Great work Brian and crew.


  8. Brian McGuigan says:

    Thank you for the endorsement, Steve. The Washington Note is really a case study in the importance of blogs for the reasons you mention in your first paragraph.
    We’re entering the blogosphere because we feel that we have unique insights to contribute to discussions on foreign affairs. More importantly though, we want to listen to what others think. Our work is too important to go it alone.
    I encourage TWN readers to come over and comment. We’re keen to hear your thoughts.


  9. bdbd says:

    you might like this one too (where UK Treasury gets late night feedings, etc) http://kenningtonnews.blogspot.com/2008/10/great-balti-bailout.html


  10. Mr.Murder says:

    Maybe they’ll discuss exactly who helped insert the Niger forgery into the airwaves. Wait, we know Sarkozy elements(who also was on of the first to hint at coming bank nationalization as a form of official policy) was one of them.
    His people used ILF contacts with the London area INC contacts to try and legitimize dated evidence that Michael Ledeen was approximate to from his dealings with Libya, which it turns out is where any actual evidentiary data was based upon.
    But who from the UK also helped at the world’s largest PR firm, Hill & Knowlton? How many of those people were part of the Blair era? How does the UK feel to see the same kind of Blair treatment given Barack Obama?
    It’s obvious, it has their endorsement. See the above photo.
    The EU energy minister at the time was from Spain. Got Aznar?
    Most of the Italian elements dealing with it were holdovers from counteroperative era of the Red Bridage’s heyday. Their prior work was through the belt of Czech influence all the way into the Balkans, even the Atta Prague rumors. Burns’ backyard from his days of being in the Mediterranean.
    We know the EU had all kinds of items, from Germany handling Curveball, to the French backgrounding the Niger forgeries set up from Italy through the UK, to Spain’s then EU energy minister helping cover up those proliferation items, to former east bloc countries having Halliburton items come up missing as potential dirty bomb components suddenly being found in Nigeria instead of missing. Have we forgot about Poland?
    Each of these was a non plausible element.
    Hill & Knowlton helped pattern most of these items into the media and even performed a PR office fucntion in Niger’s capital the last time England had any kind of ambassador functions there.
    Yet this was not enough, the Italian connection had to follow up with more brash a lie. Aluminum tubes fromt he Italian navy, known conventional usage.
    How could we ever claim otherwise? Maybe we could use a former KGB asset to help background this new hardware application and then later poison him?
    When will the World Court start imposing sanctions on the EU member states who helped America lie the world into two wars?
    Follow the Money.
    By the way, the newest news on Dodge, Ford, and GM is an effort to try and get EU or Asian first status money into bailing out their existing liabilities.


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