SHOULD COLIN POWELL HAVE A BLOG?….Why is Foreign Policy magazine running an article about blogs? Because Dan Drezner and Henry Farrell argue that blogs are influencing more than just U.S. politics these days:

Political scandals are one thing, but can the blogosphere influence global politics as well?

….Faced with various domestic obstacles, bloggers inside [regimes where there is no thriving independent media sector] (or expatriates) can try to influence foreign blogs and the media through indirect effects at home. Political scientists Margaret Keck of Johns Hopkins University and Kathryn Sikkink of the University of Minnesota note that activists who are unable to change conditions in their own countries can leverage their power by taking their case to transnational networks of advocates, who in turn publicize abuses and lobby their governments. Keck and Sikkink call this a ?boomerang effect,? because repression at home can lead to international pressure against the regime from abroad. Blogs can potentially play a role in the formation of such transnational networks.

Iran is a good example. The Iranian blogosphere has exploded. According to the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education?s Blog Census, Farsi is the fourth most widely used language among blogs worldwide. One service provider alone (?Persian Blog?) hosts some 60,000 active blogs. The weblogs allow young secular and religious Iranians to interact, partially taking the place of reformist newspapers that have been censored or shut down. Government efforts to impose filters on the Internet have been sporadic and only partially successful. Some reformist politicians have embraced blogs, including the president, who celebrated the number of Iranian bloggers at the World Summit on the Information Society, and Vice President Muhammad Ali Abtahi, who is a blogger himself. Elite Iranian blogs such as ?Editor: Myself? have established links with the English-speaking blogosphere. When Sina Motallebi, a prominent Iranian blogger, was imprisoned for ?undermining national security through ?cultural activity,?? prominent Iranian bloggers were able to join forces with well-known English-language bloggers including Jeff Jarvis (?BuzzMachine?), Dan Gillmor (?Silicon Valley?), and Patrick Belton (?OxBlog?) to create an online coalition that attracted media coverage, leading to Motallebi?s release.

The whole article is worth reading.