My new best Twitter friend: Anders Fogh Rasmussen


NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is blogging. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter. Curious as I am about NATO and the Secretary General’s activities, I started following him on Twitter. From my - journalistic - point of view, this is the new, legal form of stalking. Furthermore it is a rather strange group activity.

I have to admit that now that I know that Anders Fogh Rasmussen is running and biking in between travelling to the ongoing seats of war and saving the world. I kind of like that about him.

It is hard to imagine former NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Schaeffer writing about riding his bike or jogging down the street. The only way he communicated with the public was at official NATO press conferences.

Times change. It’s now OK to refer to the Secretary General as @AndersFoghR. And in April, 2009, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization turned 60 and launched new media and public relations efforts. NATO-produced videos are provided to journalists (in particular concerning Afghanistan). And 500,000 euro have been spent on videos to promote the slogan “Peace and security. That’s our mission.”
Additionally, the NATO Public Diplomacy Division has engaged in a comprehensive strategy, targeting young audiences. Its new public relations programme includes an Internet TV channel and “unconventional advertisement videos,” posted on YouTube.

No talks of Twitter or Facebook in any news releases, so far. But social media became the new success model after Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

I ask myself: What is the correct form of communicating foreign policy? How personal can this communication get? And to what extent does then personality or charisma count in communicating foreign policy?
Imagine Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice twittering and posting personal comments on their leisure activities.

Condolezza Rice is – from my point of view – a very unlikely Twitter candidate. Apart from that, I wonder, would the American blogger/Twitter community follow her? Would they wake up early to re-tweet her Twitter entries about her sports activities at 04.00 or 05.00? I read in some publication that this was her training schedule.

Just to show how unlikely a Twitter account of Secretary of State Clinton or former Secretary Rice seems, I would like to cite one of Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen entries. While reading it, please imagine Condolezza Rice speaking to you:

Dear friends, having returned from a sucessful visit to the United Arab Emirates, I challenged myself in a run yesterday and a mountainbike ride today. I improved my times a bit. Next Tuesday, the new German Foreign Minister, Westerwelle, will visit NATO. I look forward to meeting him as we’ve known each other for many years. I also look forward to visiting Norway and my Norwegian friends next Friday. Anders Condolezza

Doesn’t really work. @Condi would be nowhere near as warm as my friend @AndersFoghR.
What is good about this new way of public relations, using or misusing social media and therefore providing the military alliance with a more humane public appearance, is: Now I can proudly say, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is following me on Twitter, too.

Actually, since being followed by Anders I have stopped twittering - in order to evade any legal problems. It reminds me of the old espionage methods dating to the Cold War era.

...but, Anders, I will let you know on Twitter next time I go running. Maybe you can join me… even if only digitally.