• Social Media Fails in Baghdad (and London)

    November 8, 2012

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Embassy/State, Iraq

    One assumes that the purpose of US State Department social media is to win friends and influence enemies, build support for America, something like that.

    So WTF is this all about? The photo below was part of the US Embassy in Baghdad’s Twitter feed, and shows some unnamed white guy standing next to who? Is she famous, maybe Iraq’s version of the Gangnam guy? I don’t know much about the Middle East and all, but is it impressive to show a woman all made-up? Who are these people? And who on earth was so thrilled about this photo that he “favorited” it? It’s Instagram paid for with taxes. Oh, I feel old and out of touch.

    (Note: Almost all embassies and consulates host taxpayer-paid election night parties, around the world. Sometimes local businesses are strong-armed into “donating” food and drink. State loves these events as a chance to get all high and mighty about the wonders of democracy, even, without irony, in the many places around the world where we actively oppose local democratic movements as inconvenient to our geopolitical goals.

    Also, in the UK, the US Embassy in London hired an Elvis imitator for some reason.

    It is a tough job being a diplomat, but luckily there is alcohol.)



    Next up on the US Embassy Twitter feed parade o’ photos is this one, subtitled in English “How would you feel if your wife’s salary was higher than yours?” I am truly at a loss about what the purpose of this one is. Is it supposed to make men feel better about women working? Support bird rights in the new Iraq? Arabic speakers, is there a secret meaning hidden in the text? The woman looks a little like the Lois character from Family Guy, so maybe it is what the young people call “meta.” A commenter named “WRC” wrote “very impressive photo” underneath, but drilling down it turns out he is the CEO of a firm doing contract work for the U.S. embassy in Iraq. That may be the intended target audience of the embassy’s social media, so it would be cool then.






    Related Articles:




    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

  • Recent Comments

    • pitchfork said...

      1

      Guests at an election night party. A State Department election night party. Fucking brilliant. Ummmm.. this stinks. What in the fuck does an election have to do with diplomacy? Was there a “party” at EVERY embassy? If so.. I’d love to see what this stinking global “party” cost the taxpayers. Not to mention..some idiot “tweeting” about it..I mean..is there even one person working for State with more than ONE fucking neuron between their ears? Apparently..NOT. Talk about the Parallel Universe of Don’t Get IT in the first place..they tweet the PROOF of diamond hard stupidity to the ENTIRE fucking world!

      ya know…this kinda bullshit is precisely why the State Department is a joke..a real bad joke. Useless. Less than useless. I mean..the BIG BANG of fucking useless.

      Ok, I propose another toast..

      Here’s to another Great Moment in Monumental Stupidity. At this rate ..we’ll have to devote an entire volume to State itself…and I’ll become an alcoholic in less than a week.

      11/8/12 3:29 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...

      2

      Almost all embassies and consulates host taxpayer-paid election night parties, around the world. Sometimes local businesses are strong-armed into “donating” food and drink. State loves these events as a chance to get all high and mighty about the wonders of democracy, even, without irony, in the many places around the world where we actively oppose local democratic movements as inconvenient to our geopolitical goals. It is a tough job being a diplomat, but luckily there is alcohol.

      11/8/12 4:39 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      3

      A record 16 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were elected to Congress on Tuesday night and two more veterans remained locked in races Wednesday that were too close to call.
      http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/07/15000828-historic-crop-of-iraq-afghanistan-veterans-storming-washington-dc?lite

      11/8/12 8:29 PM | Comment Link

    • Social Media Fails in Baghdad | We Meant Well - Peter Van Buren | Arab social networks | Scoop.it said...

      4

      [...] Arabic speakers, is there a secret meaning hidden in the text? The woman looks a little like the Lois character from Family Guy, so maybe it is what the young people call “meta.” A commenter named “WRC” wrote “very …  [...]

      11/9/12 2:37 AM | Comment Link

    • Lafcadio said...

      5

      Good work PVB! Eventually the accumulation of twitter embarassments will cause some changes in their “social media.”

      Social media is generally used by people to informally keep in touch with friends and family. An attempt by a hidebound, formal, bureaucratic and risk averse organization like State to use this format, particularly for anything other than notifying people overseas of emergency’s, will end in embarassment and failure.

      11/9/12 10:37 AM | Comment Link

    • Lafcadio said...

      6

      BTW the guy does look like a typical pasty faced Foggy Bottom cookie pusher.

      11/9/12 10:38 AM | Comment Link

    • Lafcadio said...

      7

      PVB:

      The more I think about this, the more I realize that State’s twitter feed is comedy gold that you should mine.

      For example, you could have a photo captioning contest on their most idiotic photos.

      My submission for the above photo: fashionable Iraqi vampire mortified at American dipshit’s cheap suit.

      11/9/12 11:09 AM | Comment Link

    • john brown said...

      8

      Peter — Thank you again for alerting your grateful blog readers about the over-hyping of social media by the State Department. In my view — and I don’t know if you agree with this — it is part of a long historical pattern illustrating what some among the-powers-that-be wish to believe: that “new media” will solve, near-miraculously thanks to “innovative technology,” the USG’s foreign affairs issues/problems, so many of which stem from policy/actions, and not so much from a so-called lack of application of “modern” communications to influence foreign audiences.

      In WWI, “new media” were movies; in WWII, radio; during the Cold War, Tee-Vee; and now, during the seemingly endless “war on terror,” social media.

      Of course, these new means of communication can have an impact in promoting US national interests and, most important from the perspective of those in the USA lobbying for their use, in winning wars (an impact always difficult, however, to evaluate precisely), but the danger — as you suggest in your blog — is the illusion that such media will automatically “fix the problem.”

      International relations, of course, are much more complicated than an illiterate Tweet or a YouTube entry of an American ambassador with a certain avoirdupois performing a vulgar hip-hop “song-and-dance routine” in front of a young Laos audience http://johnbrownnotesandessays.blogspot.com/2011/11/more-on-us-rapper-ambassador-in-action.html.

      I think that most State Department professionals realize the limitation of social media, but I wish that they would express more skepticism about the so-called “21st-century statecraft” presumably carried out “effectively” and “quantifiably” via such media so that the taxpayer — who after all, pays their salary — would be served as best and honestly as possible.

      11/9/12 8:38 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      9

      quote”My submission for the above photo: fashionable Iraqi vampire mortified at American dipshit’s cheap suit.”

      BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s good.

      Mine

      He: Damn, my wife thinks I’m in Europe.
      She:Yeah? Well look on the bright side. At least the photographer wasn’t on the roof 5 minutes ago.

      11/9/12 10:24 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...

      10

      Sadly, anyone at State with the balls to tell the Emperor she has no clothes risks getting them lopped off. State’s plague is it is too full of folks too willing to go along with the theme of the month.

      11/9/12 11:16 PM | Comment Link

    Leave A Comment

    Mail (will not be published) (required)