16

Impotence as Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy as Bad Joke

Since 2008 I have often suspected that the Obama administration is one huge, unfunny, practical joke.  That is certainly the only rational explanation for the reaction of the Obama administration to the ongoing slicing and dicing of Ukraine by Mother Russia under the leadership of Vladimir “Fearless Leader” Putin.  James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal gives us the details:

 

Here’s a case in point. On March 13, a week or so after that interview was published, Samantha Power, America’s ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted about Moscow’s intervention in Crimea: “I missed the day at law school where self-determination was defined as #Russia-determination. Russia must halt its military action.” Two days later, she added: “Russia can veto a Security Council resolution, but it can’t veto the truth.”

It would appear the State Department is seeking to maintain the balance of power through a strategy of mutually assured derision.

One problem with using sarcasm as a weapon is that its proliferation is uncontrollable and widespread. Even the Canadians have it. In a column for the Toronto Sun, Ezra Levant mocked “the ironically named Ambassador Power.”

Another problem, as Levant suggested, is that the Russians appear to be better at mockery than their American counterparts. After a phone conversation between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, Levant wrote, “the Kremlin release[d] this note: ‘Mr. Obama congratulated Mr. Putin on the success of the Paralympic Games and asked Mr. Putin to pass on his greetings to the athletes.’ . . . At least Samantha Power stomped her feet and wrote a mean Twitter tweet. But Obama personally congratulated Putin, during a phone call about a war?”

Wait, it gets worse. Some of Foggy Bottom’s tweeters are deadly earnest, making them totally defenseless against post-Soviet sarcasm. On March 26 Jen Psaki, State’s top spokesman, tweeted this: “To echo @BarackObama today-proud to stand #UnitedForUkraine World should stand together with one voice.” In an accompanying photo, a smiling Psaki gave a left-handed thumbs-up while holding up in her right hand a sign with the #UnitedForUkraine hashtag and her Twitter handle, @statedeptspox.

Yesterday, National Review Online’s Patrick Brennan reports, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official Twitter account started including the hashtag in its tweets on the subject. Example: “[Foreign Minister Sergey] #Lavrov: Our US counterparts must compel the acting officials in Kiev to bear responsibility for the current situation #UnitedForUkraine.”

Barack Obama’s political operation frequently sees its Twitter hashtags “hijacked” by conservative antagonists. Remember #WHYouth? But in domestic politics, mutually assured derision is just good clean fun. Partisan politics thrives on antagonism. If the purpose of the domestic hashtags is to motivate Democratic base voters, conservative mockery is a help rather than a hindrance.

At Foggy Bottom, however, they seem utterly clueless as to what the Russians are up to. Brennan notes that Macon Phillips, who runs the department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, tweeted in response: “Welcome to the #UnitedForUkraine hashtag @mfa_russia! 2 steps to join in: First watch an intro video [titled ‘Sanctions: How Did We Get Here?’], then RT!” Continue Reading