Musk Tweets Complicate US Diplomacy From Ukraine to Taiwan


Elon Musk often wields his Twitter account as a weapon — threatening to back out of his deal to buy Twitter or insulting President Joe Biden as a damp sock puppet “in human form.”

More recently, the world’s richest person veered into more treacherous geopolitical territory by offering head-scratching proposals to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and settle questions about Taiwan’s sovereignty. His tweets and other public comments have angered presidents and foreign ministers across Europe and, awkwardly, won praise from America’s rivals.

Now Musk is escalating again, putting his money where his mouth is: On Friday, he threatened to cut financial support for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite Internet service in Ukraine, a move that would deny the country a key means of communication in the fight against Russian forces.

While Musk is hardly the first American business executive or celebrity to get tangled up in foreign policy, his wealth and penchant for mischief — not to mention his multibillion-dollar defense contracts — make him harder to ignore.

It’s a phenomenon that will only become more pronounced if Musk’s $44 billion bid to buy Twitter Inc. outright goes through. Such a move would allow him to shape the debate in ways he hasn’t had the power to do — by controlling the platform directly.

Asked in an email about criticism that his comments touch on sensitive diplomatic and geopolitical matters, Musk answered: “When did Bloomberg News become worthless trash?”

American diplomats are well-aware of Musk’s controversial comments, a State Department official said, discussing the situation on condition of anonymity, and they make clear to allies and close partners that the high-profile executive’s comments are those of a private citizen and don’t reflect the Biden administration’s thinking.

“Starlink and Twitter are both small in global terms but have outsized importance for key countries and constituencies,” said Jon​ Bateman, a senior fellow for technology and international affairs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “All this means that Musk’s pronouncements on international affairs, which have lately been naive at best, cannot simply be ignored.”

Whether or not he’s acting in any official capacity, there’s no question that Musk’s words carry weight.

With his high-level connections around the world and his vast economic influence, there have been lots of questions about his motives for getting involved, particularly after Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer said in a widely disseminated newsletter that Russian President Vladimir Putin and the SpaceX founder had spoken.

Musk later tweeted this claim was false, and that he hadn’t spoken to Putin in 18 months — and even then, that it was about space. Bremmer later doubled down, tweeting that Musk had “told me he had spoken with putin and the kremlin directly about ukraine.”

“He also told me what the kremlin’s red lines were,” Bremmer said — suggesting that Russian officials, at least, may have seen him as some sort of a back channel.

“I’ll let Mr. Musk speak for his conversations,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby replied when asked about a possible call between the billionaire and Putin. “Obviously, he’s not representing the United States government in those conversations.”


Source link

What is your reaction?

In Love
Not Sure

You may also like

Comments are closed.

More in:Business