Down to Earth Diplomacy

Blog Post by: Rebecca Heyliger


The USC MPD Research Group meets with the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jakarta.

After some well-deserved and much needed rest we headed out for the first appointment of our second day of meetings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Upon our arrival, we were joined by Ambassador Esti Andayani, Directorate General of Information and Public Diplomacy Al Busyra Basnur and their staff.

The Ambassador began our meeting by emphasizing the importance of their relationship with the US. With 1 embassy, 6 consulate generals and a mission to the UN in New York, Indonesia seeks to continue having positive relations with the US. Indonesia sees the US as a strategic partner in many areas, specifically education.  With 7,600 Indonesia students studying in the US (1,600 in Los Angeles and 172 at the University of Southern California) and 500 US students in Indonesia, the emerging nation wishes to continue its partnership with the US by encouraging more students to come study in Indonesia through exchange programs.

The main focus of our meeting was a presentation in Indonesian foreign policy and diplomacy. Part history lesson, part strategy explanation, we were guided through the 4 post-independence presidential eras.  President Soekarno – father of the nation and defender of the developing world, President Soeharto – father of development and promoter of modern Indonesia and unity in diversity, President Yudhayano – advocate of total diplomacy and regional cooperation, and President Jokowi – believer of Trisakti, which encompasses maritime, economic and down to earth diplomacy.

The concept of down to earth diplomacy is an interesting term that came up during our discussion, highlighting the idea that instead of public diplomacy being abstract and unattainable, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is attempting to bring diplomacy down to a relatable, grassroots, people-to-people level. Structurally, it was described as Track Three Diplomacy, meaning it is conducted on an individual level.

It is interesting to consider both the domestic and international context in which each presidency took place. Moving forward as Indonesia stands as a leader of the developing world, the new president will have to balance the desire for domestic well-being and prosperity within the international economy through his foreign policy and diplomacy agenda.

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