No Wikileaks but (too) much twittering

15 07 2011

Is the U.S. ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney serious about her work? AFP suggests that she craves publicity and sees her stunts and twittering as a new form of diplomacy. Kenney justifies her stunts with an argument that diplomacy “is about relationships. Between two governments, of course, but also between two peoples.”

The issue for PPT is that Kenney appears to be experiencing a relationship with herself, conveyed to others via (misnamed) social networking sites, which actually remove the ambassador from traditional diplomacy and keep people as “fans” with no real relationship. She might have 20,000 fans via Twitter but she never has to deal with a single one of them.

She’s right when she explains that her twittering “allows people to feel that they can reach out to the ambassador.” The trouble is that feelings aren’t the same as actual action. As one foreign diplomat commented, “It’s Alice in Wonderland…”. And, it is about making herself a celebrity.

When Kenney takes human rights seriously, when she gets down to Klong Prem prison and meets lese majeste victim Joe Gordon, one of her own citizens, then maybe she can be taken seriously and perhaps shed the sophomoric image.

 


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19 08 2011
Joe Gordon charged with lese majeste and U.S. expresses concern | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] wonders why the embassy waited so long before a public statement. Yes, perhaps there were behind the scenes discussions, but a bold public […]