I weep: our foreign policy has been reduced to hashtags

Posted by: Phineas on April 25, 2014 at 3:15 pm

**Posted by Phineas

Your Obama foreign policy team

Your Obama foreign policy team

Well, I weep and I mock.

For those not familiar with Twitter, “hashtags” are labels preceded by a number sign, as in “#politics.” They were developed to make it easier for people to search for related messages on the system, though people also use them as asides to provide commentary, humor, or snark.

A few weeks ago, the United States Department of State, faced with the slow-motion dismemberment of Ukraine by Russia, apparently decided that hashtags were also effective tools of superpower diplomacy. Thus we saw this from State’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki:

My reaction, you’ll be surprised to learn, was one of dismay and disgust. This is hardly the serious diplomacy one would expect from a department once headed by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, John Hay, Dean Acheson, and George Schultz. One would think that, having been roundly mocked here and overseas (You mean you didn’t hear the giggling from Moscow?), the State Department would have given up on managing our foreign affairs like it was a popularity contest, complete with cheerleading. But, no. No, some genius at State decided this was a winning strategy and deployed it again, only this time with an exhortation to Putin:

“Promise of hashtag??” You have got to be kidding me. “Yes, Vlad, be nice to Ukraine. You wouldn’t want to fail the spirit of the hashtag, would you?” Someone last night speculated that an intern forgot to substitute the real hashtag in place of the placeholder word “hashtag,” but that’s immaterial. The whole idea that anyone should think that using catchy social media slogans as a tool of diplomacy would be seen as anything other than self-inflicted humiliation is laughable. That the “strategy” originated at the highest levels of State is infuriating.

And so I couldn’t resist commenting:

And then I offered examples of the promise of hashtag and its power in US foreign affairs:

Others pointed out that the promise of hashtag was global. For example:

Indeed, Lincoln ended the Civil War with it:

But this one, I think, summed up the depth and gravity of State’s strategic thinking in this crisis:

While this baby speaks for me:

But I did offer Ms. Psaki and her co-workers a friendly and much-needed hint:

No, they do not, and it’s in part because people who think they do are in charge of our foreign policy that the world has become a much more dangerous place. It’s a common joke that both sides make to wish for the day “when the adults will be in charge, again,” but, in this case, it’s no longer a joke.  We’re facing foes around the globe who operate via the calculus of power, will, and national interest, while we are represented by community organizers who treat serious matters of state as occasions for virtual rallies.


RELATED: More at Twitchy here and here. Jonah Goldberg on Obama’s foreign policy.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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10 Responses to “I weep: our foreign policy has been reduced to hashtags”


  1. Sefton says:

    What’s next? Inviting them to a slumber party?

  2. Drew the Infidel says:

    Who’d a thunk it? Conducting foreign policy 140 characters at a time.

    Missing from the above list of luminaries who ran the state Department is Cordell Hull, 1932-1944, who was no slouch.

  3. John W says:

    I see that Mr. Putin has issued a formal response to the State Department’s remarks, but it’s in Russian so I’m unable to figure out what he is saying. Could someone please translate “HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa” for me?

  4. Tango says:

    ….I fully expect to see John Kerry exit the SecState aircraft waving a paper as he giddily proclaims “peace! peace in our time!”

  5. Nate says:

    hashtag diplomacy for an administration that’s made a complete has out of foreign policy…it was only a matter of time.

  6. Drew the Infidel says:

    These jackwads know next to nothing about international relations. There is a complex network of questions and concerns to be gauged and addressed in the way of treaties, knowing your adversary, tough bargaining skills, and consequences of outcomes i.e. vision. It is NOT a game for hashtags or otherwise operating like a blind dog in a meat house.

    It is obvious this business of putting ourselves in a position of registering protest after protest, hoping that sooner or later one of them will register, is aimlessness to a dangerous degree.

    What was it Einstein said about the definition of insanity? It is the practice of doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different result each time.

  7. Carlos says:

    I weep: our foreign policy has been reduced to hashtags

    Heck, Phineas, that’s a new one on me. I wasn’t even aware this administration HAS now or ever has had a “foreign policy.”

    That would entail something besides golfing, vacations, divisiveness, theft and thuggery.