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Twiplomacy Pressures Are Driving Us To Global War

The Ukraine war has glaringly exposed how tweets are driving the narrative, often at the cost of a balanced and thoughtful approach.

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The last time the West coordinated and mobilized action against an evil regime was in 2003. Twitter came into being three years later.

Since the platform became the medium of choice for armchair citizen journalists, there have been regional conflicts - the Arab Spring, the Syrian war, Sudan, and Yemen - to be sure. But none involved the West as profoundly as did Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2001, but that was before Twitter.

Today, western governments - compared to those in the rest of the world - live and perish on Twitter. A GIF meme and a short text message typed out by an activist while he/she waits at a 90-second traffic light can go viral. The pressure for government officials and corporate leaders to do something righteous is intense. So they turn to tweet the do-good action of the day, waiting to see how it trends. The do-gooders' uncoordinated approach is inching us ever closer to a global conflict, the biggest since the Second World War.

Most followed world leaders on twitter

Nearly every western nation, even neutral countries like Finland and Sweden, is sending more weapons to Ukraine and sharing the news on Twitter. Broadcast and print journalists pick up the thread and give it more fuel, feeding subsequent rounds of tweets. The officials responsible smile in their offices that their day has been made. Life today is all about instant gratification.

The root cause of the Russo-Ukraine war is President Putin's long-standing grievance that Ukraine should not be permitted to join NATO because a highly weaponized Ukraine destabilizes Russia. Even though the West has been predicting an invasion for a long time, the first round of sanctions was too weak. We now wonder if the pendulum swung too far in the next round of sanctions, pushing President Putin into a corner and making him double down. Western solidarity has meant that Ukraine now is, in spirit, not only part of NATO but also an E.U. member state, a point that European officials are proud to broadcast. "European security and defense have evolved more in the last six days than in the last two decades," Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Union's executive arm, asserted in a speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday.

Britain took more than four years to exit the E.U., so such remarkably swift action is commendable among commonly dour governments. But it begs the question: is it the right thing for the region and the world? George Washington is said to have told Thomas Jefferson that the framers had created the Senate to "cool" House legislation just as a saucer was used to cool hot tea. Who is playing the role of the saucer?

Thoughtful military leaders, such as Gen. David Petraeus, have cautioned that Russia holds the world's largest nuclear weapons stockpile. Responding to a suggestion on the CATS at Night show on WABC that America cyber-attack Russia, he wisely said, "These are all appealing things when you throw them out, but in the real world, if you cyber-attack the hell out of them, they will cyber-attack the hell out of us. We are probably more vulnerable. You have heard the old saying about throwing stones if you live in a glasshouse. We live in a glass house when it comes to cyberspace."

Twitter is the most righteous of all platforms. Twitterati is naturally ideological, and because the company has effectively banned one-half of the world's voices that it doesn't agree with through aggressive use of A.I. and an army of censors, it has become a purer platform where the echo chamber effect is magnified.

Allowing only one side's opinions is dangerous and could lead to suboptimal decisions that could escalate into a global conflict. Rather than encourage vigorous debates involving foreign policy experts such as Ted Galen Carpenter, Thomas Friedman, George Kennan, and Tulsi Gabbard, Twitter is taking down any pro-Russian point of view. All four Americans have questioned whether NATO's unilateral desire to expand was appropriate.

It is little surprise that Twitter has been the primary driver of impassioned debates such as defunding the police, environmental justice, Critical Race Theory, the Green New Deal, and Build Back Better. None of the activists' positions, which have little appeal in the real world, translated into actionable policy. Ordinary people see them as outrageous and not sufficiently pragmatic.

Al Jazeera, Doha's giant media outlet which reaches over 170 million households in 140 countries, raised an interesting point of view, rarely discussed on Twitter, that the world does not want to take sides in the Ukrainian conflict in what could well trigger Cold War II. As if on cue, 35 U.N. member states, including 13 Asian nations, abstained from denouncing the invasion.

Most Asians are even more concerned about the threat of a world war and how that would close out employment and business opportunities. With one million Ukrainian refugees spilling into Poland, Germany, and other parts of Europe, immigration opportunities are suddenly foreclosed. Airing such pragmatic concerns would get them banned on Twitter.

Asians understand how a country's leader responds to extreme isolation and sanctions. He would rather sacrifice his country than bend to external pressure, the worst action imaginable for a macho dictator. Think Assad in Syria, Khamanei of Iran, Hussain in Iraq, and Omar in Afghanistan.

Would extreme isolation and isolation drive Putin to do the unthinkable? Would Putin push the red button? No world leader knows, indeed, no one in the protected Twitter universe.

Related tippinsights Editorials:
Countering Putin's Aggression
Brothers In Arms: The Russian Army And The Wagner Group
Punish Russia, Not Russians
Putin’s Outrageous Nuclear Threat
5 Factors Behind Putin's Aggression And The Possible Endgame
SWIFT: Europe Can't Have Its Cake And Eat It Too
It’s Time To Walk The Talk To Defend Ukraine
Anti-Fossil Madness Funds Putin's Ukraine Aggression
Putin’s Nonsense Peacekeeping Mission
Nord Stream: A Lesson In Energy Dependence
Cracks Among Ukraine's Allies
Countering Putin’s Brinksmanship
Thirty Years Since The Collapse Of The Soviet Union
Who Will Prevail- Russia Or NATO?

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