Ban Ki-moon: Dictators more afraid of tweets than armies

The secretary-general has raised some eyebrows with comments made last week during an address at the Global Colloqium of University Presidents: "To unleash the power of young people, we need to partner with them. This is what the United Nations is trying to do," he added, announcing his decision to appoint a U.N. Special Adviser ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.

The secretary-general has raised some eyebrows with comments made last week during an address at the Global Colloqium of University Presidents:

The secretary-general has raised some eyebrows with comments made last week during an address at the Global Colloqium of University Presidents:

"To unleash the power of young people, we need to partner with them. This is what the United Nations is trying to do," he added, announcing his decision to appoint a U.N. Special Adviser on Youth.

"Some dictators in our world are more afraid of tweets than they are of opposing armies," he declared, pointing out the rising political clout of the younger generation.

Some commentators have responded to Ban’s comments with mockery… on Twitter naturally. "What’s Ban Ki-moon smoking? Show me one dictator who’s more afraid of tweets than armies." wrote Evgeny Morozov

FP’s Daniel Drezner chipped in: "Some dictators no doubt would reply with, "How many divisions does Twitter have?… And, inevitably, some lolcat on Youtube will say, "I can haz divisions?!"

In (partial) defense of Ban, this isn’t that absurd a comment if you don’t take it literally. Most autocratic governments are probably under greater threat from the possibility of uprisings by their own populations — particularly young people — than invasions by foreign armies. Granted, it’s not the tweets they’re worried about but the people sending them. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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