• Happy Holidays from the Video Asshats at Your State Department

    December 24, 2016 // 41 Comments »

    So what better use of taxpayer money and time than for your State Department to make idiotic holiday videos?

    Acting like an asshat is something of a State tradition year-round, but these annual videos seek to memorialize it. The very broad theory is that these things “humanize” American foreign policy in a way drones do not, and because they get lots of “clicks,” prove those foreigners really do love us after all. Of course, lots of people slow down for gory car wrecks, too.

    A theme this year is American Embassy staff acting wacky and speaking their host country’s languages poorly, and thinking that is hilarious. Why, those goofy foreign words! Good thing everybody overseas speak English, amiright? Can anyone imagine a foreign ambassador in the United States going on YouTube and speaking sad, broken English like he’s Sasha Baron Cohen? Hah, the comedy Christmas Americanski joking time!

    Anyway, it’s social media and that’s a good thing, right?

    Those who are worried about the loss of respect for America under the coming administration should console themselves knowing there is little left to lose.



    The loquacious American ambassador in Seoul:


    Tokyo, featuring the ambassador dressed as Santa:


    And here’s the U.S. Embassy crowd in Manila (skip ahead to about 1:00 for wacky funs)


    Maybe Norway:


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    Great Moments in Public Diplomacy, No. 938

    June 30, 2012 // 3 Comments »



    Learning to love the one you’re with in Kabul social media. After all, if you don’t like yourself, how can others learn to like you? That said, many people believe that self-love is one of the purest forms of affection.


    One wonders how Embassy Kabul “liking” its own videos fits with these Public Diplomacy Tweets:




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    Create Yer Own Blog Post: Web Hypocrisy

    April 9, 2012 // Comments Off on Create Yer Own Blog Post: Web Hypocrisy

    It’s fun to be a blogger, so let’s try one together! You take an item from the news (if under 30, “from the media”) and write something about it. What you write can be serious, funny, sarcastic or poignant– you get to choose! So let’s get started.

    Here is a cartoon (“graphic novel”) produced at taxpayer expense (“your money”) by the US Government, specifically by the Department of State. The Department of State lately is very concerned about web freedom for other countries (“smart power”) because it has convinced itself that if people in other countries had full and free access to the internet, they would be nice and we would not have to bomb them with drones (“policy”).

    So let’s start by watching the cartoon (“propaganda”):



    (If the video does not appear by internet freedom magic above, you can also see it here on the YouTube)

    Now comes the funnest part, where you write something about that video for “your blog.” Here are some samples to help get you started.

    Serious

    Ironically, the best internet blocking software is made in the US (Include a link for validity, such as Blue Coat).

    Countries the US likes also block or filter the web, places like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

    The State Department itself employs web filtering and blocking, internally clamping off access to web sites that have Wikileaks content that the US government does not want people to see.

    Interesting that the video is captioned in English. Is State trying to propagandize the Iranians, or is this really designed to help whip up more war fever in the US?


    Funny

    Why does Tehran in that cartoon look a lot like a US urban area?

    If Iran suddenly threw away all of its web controls and blocking, the only change would be a 125% increase in views of videos of cats and babies doing funny things on YouTube.

    If Iran allowed FourSquare and Twitter to run free, would Hillary Clinton be Mayor of Iran?


    Sarcastic

    So Iran limits broadband access and throttles its web. You mean like Verizon?

    Needs more Family Guy references.

    So this is what the government spends my tax dollars on?

    Sorry, couldn’t watch it, my employer blocks YouTube at work so we don’t spend all day watching crap and not getting any work done.

    (For additional sarcastic blogging inspiration, check out the real-world Twitter feed set up to promote this cartoon at #ConnectIran. Click on some names to note how many of the participants are State Department people sucking up to their bosses by RT’ing State’s message to make it seem like it is “viral.”)


    Poignant

    If only the State Department would afford the We Meant Well blog the same freedom it demands for Iranians.

    The hipster animation moved me. I too demand the basic human right of internet access for Iran!

    And now we must sadly ask ourselves: Can anyone in Iran see this video? We watch it ever so casually here on our computers, while even viewing this in Iran is to risk death.

    Today, we are all Persians.



    So there you have it, your very own blog posting! After you have written yours, be sure to cut it out and stick it on your refrigerator door (“social media”) for everyone to see!



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    Hip Hop COIN Diplomacy: Awww, P*ss on It

    January 12, 2012 // 1 Comment »

    Here is the viral video (social media!) that “purportedly” shows “alleged” US “Marines” Corps urinating on “what are believed to be” Afghan corpses. All of those words are in “quote marks” because the US is still “investigating” whether or not the video is “authentic.”

    “While we have not yet verified the origin or authenticity of this video, the actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps,” ABC News quotes an official statement.

    So let’s watch and see for ourselves:



    If the embed is not showing up, follow this link to the video

    Anybody out there want to argue the video is not somehow “authentic”? The people in it dress like Marines, carry the right gear, are wearing the right boots, carrying the right weapons, same sense of humor as Marines (“Have a great day, buddy,” one of the alleged Marines can be heard saying on the footage.)

    A couple of points:

    –We can assume that this video is now on every cell phone in Afghanistan and is rocketing across the Middle East. The “bad guys” do not need to produce their own propaganda when we do it for them.

    –The expected statement from the US side, that these are “rogue” Marines, not representative of the many fine men and women in the Corps, will mean absolutely nothing to anyone outside the US. It is possible for something to be both true, and irrelevant, at the same time.

    –Most online boneheads will say things like “Well, the Taliban does worse things!” Yeah, but the Taliban is not trying to win a COIN war in a foreign country they invaded 10 years ago. Also, see above, it is possible for something to be both true, and irrelevant, at the same time.

    –About 90% of the US effort will be spent countering the domestic US reaction to the video, 9.9% that of our allies and 0.1% that of the Afghans themselves.

    –The US media will respond as trained, with only 0.1% still carrying the story in a few days. About 90% of Muslim world media will keep talking about this.

    –Absolutely nothing about this on US Embassy Kabul web site, Twitter or Facebook. So much for the use of social media. Can you say “we are irrelevant”?

    –All the happy talk hip hop diplomacy and smiley face 21st century Statecraft in the world can be rendered as useless as dust in the wind by acts like this. That’s what makes counterinsurgency such a dead end proposition. Our side has to only get it wrong once in awhile to lose.

    –As one online commenter, who identified himself as a veteran, said: “Thanks fellas, you just pissed away everything me and my boys fought for.”

    Abu Ghraib



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    US v. Iran Proxy War: Another Round

    May 2, 2011 // Comments Off on US v. Iran Proxy War: Another Round

    fake osama death photoAs our collective national boner over the death of bin Laden works itself out, we now return you to our regularly scheduled war, already in progress.

    While you were pounding brews celebrating the splattering of bin Laden’s brains (Dude! USA! USA! Last thing through Osama’s mind: a bullet!), the US-Iran proxy war in Iraq continued for a record-breaking April.

    Always prescient Musings on Iraq reports that of US deaths in Iraq last month, half were due to enemy action and occurred in southern Iraq and Baghdad, and were likely the work of Iranian backed Special Groups. Tehran times militant attacks to coincide with important political events taking place in Iraq. Currently, that is the discussion over whether Baghdad should allow U.S. soldiers to remain in the country past the December 2011 withdrawal date, which the Iranian regime opposes.

    On April 30, a US Army spokesman blamed the League of the Righteous for recent missile attacks, and said that they, and the Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq, were supported by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Qods Force.

    Musings also has YouTube videos that purportedly show the attacks. This, plus Justin Bieber and funny penguins, is why God created the Internet.



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