Speaking to an audience of nearly every American ambassador, Clinton referred to the unrest gripping the Arab world in emphasizing the importance of U.S. "civilian power." She said U.S. diplomacy needed to be more nimble, innovative and accountable than ever before.
"What's going on today - recent events in Egypt and certainly in that broader region - remind us all how crucial it is to have top-notch leadership on the ground and how quickly the ground can shift under our feet," Clinton told the gathering of diplomats at the State Department.
Clinton said officials would have to accept that positions and resources would need to be shifted to where they are needed most, from the fragile states of Afghanistan and Iraq to Pakistan, where she said the volume of false claims about the United States makes responding difficult.
Referring to the release of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables by the WikiLeaks website, Clinton said ambassadors needed to adapt to a "fast-changing world" that includes theft, protests and technological developments that have the capacity to change the lives of millions of people.
"We are all in unchartered territory," Clinton said.
She urged ambassadors to embrace the potential of Facebook, Twitter and other forums to better project the American message to people around the world.
"Social media is going to change things and if we are not on top of it and driving the message and responding to it as effectively as we can, we are going to be left behind," Clinton said.