• U.S. Embassy in Uganda Slays Christmas

    December 28, 2013 // 3 Comments »

    Continuing what has become a U.S. State Department tradition of making horrid, childish videos with taxpayer money (“social media”), here’s one of the worst best from the U.S. Embassy in Uganda. In only 60 seconds, the Santa crew manages to slaughter multiple local languages (check the guy at around 18 seconds in) and, at the end, make merry of the fact that U.S. diplomats abroad cannot speak their host country’s tongue.

    It’s a Christmas miracle!



    BONUS: No mention in the video of the armed U.S. special forces tear-assing around Uganda killing stuff, but maybe they’re saving that for the New Year’s video?




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

    Posted in Embassy/State

    State Department Makes Gangnam Parody on Your Dime

    November 15, 2012 // 8 Comments »

    So there you were this morning, wondering what the State Department was doing with your tax money. They were making a “Gangnam Style” parody video!


    Have a look at this clip from a continuing series of “social media” produced by the American Embassy in Seoul:



    Now, in the words of Psy, let’s “break it down”:

    – State’s weird attempt at humanizing America abroad comes off instead as a lame attempt at creating a cult of personality around its ambassador. Truly, do Korean people care about his clothing (as featured in the video, hung in a messy closet)? Was the last “question” praising the embassy’s wonderful social media really a question that needed featuring here? And honestly, did US government employees on US government time really need to be forced to dance Gangnam style while the ambassador stood by watching like some playground pedophile?


    — What is the point? I get “social media” as a concept but I am unsure what the national policy goal here is, and there damn well better be one since taxpayer money is paying for this garbage. Are Koreans supposed to see the cartoon caricature of the Ambassador and “like” America? Are they supposed to see the Gangnam dancers and feel America is “with it”? Are we “groovy” yet?


    — Is this simply a silly shot at linking Psy’s 15 minutes of fame to the U.S.’ hope for another 15 minutes of fame?


    — Is the U.S. the only hip and cool country representing in South Korea? Because I checked the web sites of countries like the UK, Japan and China for Korea, and none of them feature silly poo stuff like this. I also checked the South Korean government’s web site in the U.S., and there are no YouTube videos of the South Korean ambassador lip syncing to Beyonce. Is America just that far ahead of the public diplomacy curve?


    — Why is State trapped in this loop of idolatry? The ambassador is the lead guy in these videos because he is the ambassador, and thus his entire staff is devoted to sucking up to him. If real communication was the goal, perhaps they could have found almost anyone else in the embassy with a teeny dollop more of charisma? Maybe someone who didn’t look deeply embarrassed alternating with deeply bored throughout the entire project?


    Anyway, hopefully State will show videos like this to Congress at the next budget hearings to help justify their requests for more money. I am sure Congress will be impressed.





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

    Posted in Embassy/State

    Advice for State Department Entry Level Officers: Gangnam Style

    October 2, 2012 // 12 Comments »

    Of the many, many ironies of the past year, my role as an author and blogger has enabled me to speak with a very large number of young people either thinking about a Foreign Service career or, having recently joined State as Entry Level Officers (ELOs, formerly Junior Officer, JOs). When I worked at State no one seemed particularly interested in my advice, but now some ask. Go figure.

    So, in the interest of public service (formerly “giving back”), based on recent news pieces, here are some points for you young’uns to raise with your State Department mentors:

    — Clinton’s personal spokesperson, Philippe Reines, called a major media reporter an “unmitigated asshole” and told him to “fuck off” in writing. Given the varied needs of diplomacy, under what specific circumstances are State Department personnel allowed to use such terms without punishment? For example, I was charged by State with “unprofessional conduct” for far less offensive speech on this blog. Bonus: Is there such a thing as a “mitigated asshole”? Discuss.


    — It was less than a year ago that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was videotaped gleefully laughing at the brutal death of then-Libyan leader Qaddafi. “We came, we saw, he died!” giggled the Secretary of State. Under what specific circumstances are officers allowed to act gleeful in the face of the death of world leaders? Putin? Assad? Ahmadinejad? The Gangnam-Style guy?


    –When the Secretary talks about them killing us it is “terrorism.” When we kill them it is legitimate self-defense. At what point in a State Department career do these things actually start to make sense? Bonus: Is there something in the water at State Department HQ? Should I be drinking more of it or less of it?


    Alec Ross, State Department social media guru, called Hillary Clinton the “most innovative Secretary of State since Ben Franklin.” Should you Tweet that your own boss is the most innovative boss since Benjamin Franklin as part of your mandatory self-promotional “managing up” strategy? If so, should you use an official State Department social media account to do so as Ross did, or a personal account? What is your play if you only have access to a MySpace account due to local conditions overseas?




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

    Posted in Embassy/State

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