In March of 2010 I wondered why the kids who voted for President Obama thought his YouTube Diplomacy would sway the world’s worst dictators and despots. It’s now 2014, and the administration’s Twitter Diplomacy has exploded in its face. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki was the one who lit the fuse with the instantly-mocked tweet: “The world stands #UnitedforUkraine. Let’s hope that the #Kremlin & @mfa_russia will live by the promise of the hashtag.”
While Russia fights for its cultural identity, the White House is fighting for “the promise of the hashtag.” One simply needs to flip through a history book to see how Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul II dismantled the Soviet Union in order to realize that President Obama should have stuck to “organizing” Chicago (i.e., Chiraq).
Is it any wonder why the Kremlin won’t take calls from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel?
The Washington Times reported:
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been unable to get Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on the phone amid escalating tension near the country’s shared border with Ukraine.
Mr. Shoigu announced Thursday that Russia planned to engage in a new series of military exercises near the Ukraine border. The military move, he said, is in response to ongoing NATO training exercises in Poland and the death of at least two pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine.
The White House is getting shellacked on the world stage, and Americans have no one to blame but themselves.
But back to the “promise of the hashtag.” Foreign Policy Magazine breaks it down for everyone to understand:
Late last month, Marie Harf, a deputy spokesperson at the State Department, took to the podium to announce a new social media campaign aimed at “mobilizing the international community in support of Ukraine.” The campaign, she explained, asks “the world to show their support for Ukraine on social media by using the hashtag … #UnitedForUkraine.” …
So far, speaking with “one voice” hasn’t done much to deter Russian aggression, even as part of a broader campaign to punish Moscow for its behavior. … U.S. officials and legislators have unanimously ruled out a military response to Russian aggression. So you’d be forgiven for considering the State Department’s social media campaign to be a somewhat Quixotic, ephemeral even, effort at building a response to Russia’s moves in Ukraine.
For anyone writing an early obituary of U.S. diplomatic efforts in Ukraine, here’s your headline: “The Promise of Hashtag.” The ease with which Russian diplomats have hijacked the banner under which sundry U.S. officials have been tweeting about Ukraine also speaks to the danger of using a slogan that essentially lacks content. What does it mean to be “united for Ukraine”? It certainly sounds good. Both words begin with a “u.” And who doesn’t like “unity”? But combing the two words with the preposition “for” doesn’t add a great deal of meaning.
Then there’s this: It’s no small irony that the Russian Foreign Ministry managed to express itself in more coherent English than the State Department’s chief spokesperson.
Here’s the key takeaway: “the danger of using a slogan that essentially lacks content.”
I’ve said before that the president was propelled to great heights by his talent for eloquently delivering soaring vagueness. The man who preached “hope and change” got people who get excited over “Obama cares” bumper stickers to vote for him twice, and guys like Vladimir Putin couldn’t be happier. The Russian Foreign Ministry speaks better English than the State Department because it knows exactly what it wants — and its willing to use force to get it.
Russia is not interested in being an “also ran.” It has a rich and proud history, and it will fight to regain what it believes to be its rightful place on the world stage. Meanwhile, we have a president who laments the fact that the United States isn’t just one random voice among many on the world’s stage. He bristles as phrases like “American exceptionalism” and chooses, whenever possible, to drag the skeletons out of our closet for all the world to see.
One could almost forgive the man if his foreign policy was even remotely coherent. Instead, Americans get “reset” buttons (misspelled as “overcharge”) and Ashton Kutcher diplomacy.
Perhaps you, like me, were forcefully encouraged to see the new movie “Valentines Day” last weekend. In the course of diplomacy, perhaps you, too, said that it was a wonderful movie.
You will be fascinated, then, to discover that the movie’s star, Ashton Kutcher, has become a U.S. government diplomat. …
According to the LA Times, Kutcher is being sent by the State Department to Russia as part of a tech delegation that aims to use its bits to foster diplomacy with that particularly bearish, bullish part of the world. …
It seems that no special time has been set aside to discuss hacking, censorship or blogger imprisonment.
How did that work out for us, Mr. President? How much bang for the diplomatic buck did we get for sending Ashton Kutcher over to Russia to dicker around with the Russians and talk about how widgets and gadgets and Twitter hashtags are really, really awesome?
President Reagan can be summed up: “Tear down this wall.” President Obama: “Respect our hashtags — please?”
Compare and contrast Ronald Reagan’s handling of Communists with the Obama administration’s “reset” (i.e., “overcharge) diplomacy.