Virtual Diplomacy in the Twitter-sphere

The Obama Administration, after leading a retreat from global hot spots or else crouching safely behind France, is now content to conduct foreign affairs from the comfort of Twitter. 

Most recently, First Lady Michelle Obama took to the micro-blogging site with a mostly teenage demographic to express her displeasure that Islamic terrorists in Nigeria had kidnapped nearly 300 Christian girls.

She attached a photo of her pouting self with a sign bearing the hashtag slogan "Bring Back Our Girls" and made a YouTube speech comparing the hostages to her own children. In similar circumstances, Malia and Sasha would apparently merit 140 characters or fewer on Twitter, maybe a cartoonish Instagram from their parents, one of them the Commander-in-Chief.

Michelle Obama's solipsistic "selfie" had a precedent in State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki's, when Vladimir Putin was first stalking Ukraine. His henchmen stoking violent rebellion against the government in the Crimea region, Psaki held up a hand-drawn sign like the First Lady's that read "United With Ukraine." It was another bit of what soft-power boosters term "hashtag diplomacy," a virtual kind taking place in pixels among fake spam-bots.

After Psaki's strangely cheerful pose on camera, no Western power sent troops to unite with Ukraine's -- physically, as opposed to figuratively -- and Putin soon annexed Crimea. His supporters continue to foment unrest in regions formerly behind the Iron Curtain. And the kidnapped girls firmly in custody and headscarves, Boko Haram this week detonated car bombs killing over 118 (allegedly).

So far, Michelle Obama's and Jen Psaki's demands that somebody, anybody, "bring back our girls" and "unite with Ukraine" have had no effect. Because in cyberspace, there's only "building awareness" -- no action. For effete Western liberals, however, typing brief missives on their mobile devices before scrolling to Farmville on Facebook is equivalent.

They must be wondering why Islamofascists and the new Soviets don't respond to negative social media the same way Macy's or HGTV usually do, emailing apologies and coupons or canceling offensive home decorating shows.

Maybe Boko Haram's leader Abubaker Shekau and Russia's Putin are too busy playing Candy Crush Saga to check their apps. Most likely, they take the administration's Twitter posts, bundled with a flotilla of other media from rapper beefs to Craigslist propositions, as seriously as the administration does, which is not at all.

Follow Brendan Thomas on Twitter

The Obama Administration, after leading a retreat from global hot spots or else crouching safely behind France, is now content to conduct foreign affairs from the comfort of Twitter. 

Most recently, First Lady Michelle Obama took to the micro-blogging site with a mostly teenage demographic to express her displeasure that Islamic terrorists in Nigeria had kidnapped nearly 300 Christian girls.

She attached a photo of her pouting self with a sign bearing the hashtag slogan "Bring Back Our Girls" and made a YouTube speech comparing the hostages to her own children. In similar circumstances, Malia and Sasha would apparently merit 140 characters or fewer on Twitter, maybe a cartoonish Instagram from their parents, one of them the Commander-in-Chief.

Michelle Obama's solipsistic "selfie" had a precedent in State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki's, when Vladimir Putin was first stalking Ukraine. His henchmen stoking violent rebellion against the government in the Crimea region, Psaki held up a hand-drawn sign like the First Lady's that read "United With Ukraine." It was another bit of what soft-power boosters term "hashtag diplomacy," a virtual kind taking place in pixels among fake spam-bots.

After Psaki's strangely cheerful pose on camera, no Western power sent troops to unite with Ukraine's -- physically, as opposed to figuratively -- and Putin soon annexed Crimea. His supporters continue to foment unrest in regions formerly behind the Iron Curtain. And the kidnapped girls firmly in custody and headscarves, Boko Haram this week detonated car bombs killing over 118 (allegedly).

So far, Michelle Obama's and Jen Psaki's demands that somebody, anybody, "bring back our girls" and "unite with Ukraine" have had no effect. Because in cyberspace, there's only "building awareness" -- no action. For effete Western liberals, however, typing brief missives on their mobile devices before scrolling to Farmville on Facebook is equivalent.

They must be wondering why Islamofascists and the new Soviets don't respond to negative social media the same way Macy's or HGTV usually do, emailing apologies and coupons or canceling offensive home decorating shows.

Maybe Boko Haram's leader Abubaker Shekau and Russia's Putin are too busy playing Candy Crush Saga to check their apps. Most likely, they take the administration's Twitter posts, bundled with a flotilla of other media from rapper beefs to Craigslist propositions, as seriously as the administration does, which is not at all.

Follow Brendan Thomas on Twitter

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