“Fuck the EU”

Victoria Nuland, meet Earl Butz.

Victoria Nuland, meet Earl Butz.

In today’s news, Victoria Nuland,  Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and the top American diplomat in Europe, is heard in a viral Youtube video saying “Fuck the EU,” meaning the European Union, meaning the United States’ allies in Europe, meaning the constituency it is her job to get along with,and not insult like a middle schooler.

A U.S. government competent in international diplomacy, serious about international affairs, and familiar with the concepts of damage control and accountability would sack the unfortunate Ms. Nuland immediately. Waiting until she becomes completely useless and the gaffe escalates into a serious international rift with substantive consequences would be incompetent, lazy and stupid. But this, remember, is the Barack Obama Amateur Diplomacy Era. Nuland has apologized for saying “Fuck the EU,” and that, for now, is the best the European Union will get, because the President Obama and his subordinates (fish-rots-head-down) doesn’t acknowledge the ethical principle of accountability, nor professionalism and competence, as far as I can see.

In its actions, if not its words, the administration has been saying “fuck the rest of the world” with some regularity.  Obama’s nominee for Ambassador of Argentina revealed in last week’s confirmation hearings that he has never been there, nor does he speak Spanish. Unlike the many other countries’ languages that our ambassadors assigned to them can’t understand, it really isn’t hard to find qualified diplomats who speak Spanish. Noah Bryson Mamet, however, wasn’t nominated to head the embassy in a major South American nation because he has a clue of how to do that job. He bundled $500,000 for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, you see, and no fewer than 23 such “bundlers” have received ambassador posts as their pay-off.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Henri J. Barkey, professor of international relations at Lehigh University and previously a member of President Clinton’s State Department  policy planning staff (Oops! So much for the old reliable “this is just a partisan attack” defense!), wrote,

“The United States claims to value the efforts of diplomats — a point the president reiterated in his State of the Union speech last week. So why do so many seem to think that diplomacy is a profession that anyone can engage in? If you had a plumbing problem, would you call your friendly ambassador to fix it? What message is the president sending to Foreign Service officers and to former and current ambassadors of distinction? The Obama administration’s appointments suggest that the President isn’t being honest when he says that diplomacy is important to him.”

I’d say that’s a fair, objective assessment, wouldn’t you? Now one of the qualified diplomats, Nuland, has made horrific blunder at a time when relations with the EU are already reeling from the news, courtesy of Edward Snowden, that the NSA spies on the personal communications of EU leaders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a prominent hackee, pronounced Nuland’s disrespect as “absolutely unacceptable.”  That’s also a fair, objective assessment; what a shame the President of the United States appears to have no concept of what “diplomacy” means, or, as Professor Barkey notes, to give a damn.

The Obama Administration’s predictable reaction, familiar to anyone who has watched its deflections of responsibility over the past five years, was to blame someone else. Jay Carney pointed the finger at Russia for capturing what was supposed to be a private conversation, and he may well be right.  How sharp of Jay to conclude that Russia would do something to embarrass the U.S. Let’s make him Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, since he appears to grasp this basic international fact and the risk it suggests, while Nuland did not. Nuland, we are told, is renowned for being the impeccable diplomat in public, and a blunt, undiplomatic critic in private conversations. Well, she’s an idiot, then.

There is no private, as Merkel could have told her, except she probably foolishly presumed that a top U.S. diplomat in post-Snowden America would have figured that out. Any government official, and not just diplomats, who utter in private derogatory statements regarding important constituencies and powerful individuals is playing, no pun intended, Russian Roulette with her job. This was true even before the time when everyone was carrying a video camera on their cell phone and the NSA, or someone else, might be listening in on any conversation.

In 1976, for example, Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz told a racist joke in what he thought was a private conversation. It was overheard by Watergate felon John Dean, however, and Dean, being Dean,  thoughtfully passed it on to Rolling Stone. This effectively ended Butz’s career, though he, like Nuland, already had a reputation for being an effective public servant who had a penchant for being less than tasteful or diplomatic in his private discourse. Nobody cared what Butz said in private until one of his comments became public; then it made him a liability. Is a Secretary of Agriculture who insults blacks less able to do his job than a top U.S. diplomat to Europe who says “Fuck the EU”? Isn’t that an easy question? Nuland’s ability to perform her crucial function s directly and permanently diminished by her statement. Butz’s leaked joke made him  a political liability, but someone with a taste for ugly jokes can still competently administer agricultural policy.

Nuland, then, has to go. Immediately. Every day the Obama Administration waits—and dithering is another of the President’s specialties—the U.S.’s arrogance and lack of genuine respect for its allies becomes more evident and damaging. Nuland, who is, despite this gaffe, not really an idiot but an experienced professional who behaved recklessly and unprofessionally in this instance, should comprehend the importance of her removal if her bosses do not. She would be doing her country, her profession and her President a boon if she resigned today. Unfortunately, it is likely that the Obama Administration’s banishment of accountability and professionalism has infected her as well.

________________________________

Sources: The Blaze, Washington Post, Firstpost, BBC, Global Post, Slate,

30 thoughts on ““Fuck the EU”

      • And, who knows, maybe having enough respect for her counterparts to seek a different job if that’s what she thinks.

        She was the wrong person for the job [i]before[/i] she said that. Saying it out loud was proof of incompetence on top of that but was a separate offense.

        An anti-Semitic ambassador to Israel would be ipso facto unqualified even if he never opened his mouth about it. The same principle applies here.

        Even if the EU is just posturing because they’re obliged to act offended (they could after all say “we no longer accept her credentials” and make her disappear), all the same reasoning still applies.

  1. Yeah, this situation reminds me of a middle school class gone crazy due to a lazy incompetent teacher. Frankly I can understand her frustration with the EU and their disinterest in what’s happening in the Ukraine.

    • Diplomacy, however, is a profession that is unforgiving on that score. You can sympathize with the individual, but not the diplomat. I can sympathize with the lawyer who wants to give up his serial killer client,but the lawyer who actually does it is a disgrace.

    • To understand all is not to forgive all. There are professional ways to deal with frustration.

      It’s not like she had said something rude in a letter in the diplomatic bag, something that law and custom and experience define as private.

  2. What’s sort of funny to me, is how much the EU, its leaders, and all of its Liberal, mewling citizenry loved Obama…well, the very idea of Obama, long before he was elected.
    (France even had giant billboards of him hanging on walls of city buildings.)

    They literally could not wait until we elected him because he would manage all US matters (and consequently, all EU matters) with a finesse and understanding previously unknown from American leaders and giving respect where respect was due.
    Not to mention, he would be lovely and Liberal, just as they are, he would stop wars and warmongering, unfettered Capitalism, government corruption, racism, AND he would lift up the poor with his lovely national health care.
    Clearly, Obama was the messiah of the new millennial.

    Now excuse me while I go laugh my ass off.

    • Tragedy and comedy circle around and meet. Why anyone would assume that a narrow-perspective community organizer would have either interest, skill or expertise in international affairs is beyond me.

      • Yeah, the institute pushed the limits of sanity by picking Yasser Arafat, jumped the shark by picking Obama (who was given the prize as a direct “screw you Bush and your hyper-American ‘cowboy’ ways that we Europeans hate, because it shows us up time and again”), and now are considering Edward Snowden….

        Is it really the Nobel Peace Prize? Or the Nobel “anti-American narrative” Prize?

        What a joke.

        • It is a joke…it’s become a political tool of anti-American fools. We should pay no attention to it, and any American who receives it should decline. No integrity, no objectivity or standards.

        • Is it really the Nobel Peace Prize? Or the Nobel “anti-American narrative” Prize?
          What a joke.
          **********
          It is a joke.
          Or maybe more like a poke in the eye.
          The passive/aggressive antics of a weak populace.

    • Very, very true. And now we’re all left to wonder why he ever got awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize. Believe me, we have long seen the error of our ways…

  3. Every time Angela Merkel screams foul because her phones have been bugged or some nitwit says, “F$#k the EU”, I just laugh and laugh.
    Be careful what you wish for, people.

  4. Remember we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. What could go wrong? They have history on their side.
    Who but a bunch of conservative Christian diversity h8ters would have predicted this?

    I need a Tums and something to hold the top of my head on.

  5. “There is no private”

    Well, not on an insecure phone line going through Russian territory. Diplomats used to be taught that ordinary communication channels are not private and that if they needed to speak candidly they should be using facilities in the code room.

    • There is no private. Sometimes you may be lucky, but outside of having a conversation with yourself in a closet, there is no 100% guaranteed expression that is not at risk of becoming public. This is a big topic in the law and legal ethics, where “the expectation of privacy” is an important standard. Last week we learned the NSA listens in on attorney-client communications, which are privileged. Privacy is long gone, and it’s not coming back.

          • I was going to say – sure, it will work, but only for a little while. Barring all else, the NSA has a truly staggering amount of processing power at its disposal, and can brute-force keys for decryption if it chooses to.

            Anyone remember a while back (late 90’s, or there abouts) there was a new, publicly usable encryption program? Government went nuts, trying to get the developer to give them the keys to it. Court, bullying, the works…

            And then they just kind of stopped talking about it and there was no more news about court cases and the like.

            Most folks suspect that it was because the NSA cracked it, and didn’t feel like making it official that they had they keys, like it would have been if the government managed to win a court case and get them.

      • If it’s not coming back, the why do we even pretend?

        Privacy along with security of your Person and Property and Due Process are pretty much the backbones of what out nation was founded for. So why try?

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