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Friday, February 7, 2014

More "Smart" Diplomacy: The US and The EU Spat over Ukraine

Can anybody doubt that the Western world--with the notable exceptions of Israel, Canada, and Australia--is captained by incompetents? Led by people with no understanding of how the world works? Is it a surprise that hoods and charlatans such as Rouhani, Putin, Abbas, Castro, Morales, Correa, and Kim Jong-un--to name but a few--run circles around our "leaders"?

The latest example is The Phone Call.  Our incompetent Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, Victoria Nuland, who earned her job by being an incompetent spokesman for the State Department, got herself taped talking trash on the phone with our Ambassador to Ukraine re EU efforts to end the political crisis in Ukraine. The tape was uploaded onto the World Wide Web for the enjoyment of millions World Wide. This got the EU upset, and, in a growing sign of how we have lost allies, it went public with that distress: German Chancellor Merkel said Nuland's comments were "completely unacceptable." Nuland came back with the pro forma apology, and a lame comment, which I guess passes for wit, describing the leak--probably from the Russians--as "pretty impressive tradecraft. [The] audio quality was very good."


Let's forget about the basic issues involved and that the EU is most likely being incompetent when dealing with the crisis in Ukraine--incompetent, after all, is the default setting for the EU. Our senior people haven't learned anything? They don't know that everybody is out there intercepting phone calls? Have they heard of Snowden and the NSA and Merkel's previous upset over having her calls intercepted by the US and the UK?

On our very first day at the Foreign Service Institute, we were told in no uncertain terms that phone calls are not secure; that we should always assume that whatever we say on the phone is getting heard by a herd--and that was 1978, when the technology for call interception was positively of Fred Flintstone vintage compared to what now exists.

We do not have serious people in charge.


  1. I disagree, they are quite serious. The point is to "Fundamentally Change " this country in every way. By running on envy and arrogance, they've done sickeningly well.

    1. I concur, Master Bait. They are perfectly serious; just not about foreign policy.

      We could all die in a nuclear attack someday soon--not their worry. But someone somewhere is homeschooling his kid!

  2. I'm of the mind that we're seeing the outworking of our society's exorcism of God (and God, being more than a gentleman, took a hike when asked to do so). Paul warned of it in Romans 1, in which he noted of his own times that people professing to be wise became fools.

    It happened in Kerry's warning Abbas that he'd suffer the same fate as Arafat if he didn't make some progress towards peace. It caused Abbas to storm out protesting that he'd been threatened. I'm sure that Kerry meant Abbas would end up irrelevant; but didn't someone inform our SecState of the paranoia in which much of the Arab world lives, and many in the PA being convinced that the Americans, JOOOOOOOZ, or both assassinated their Egyptian-born founder? Sure, I'm not a fan of the PA, and think Arab politics generally dreadful, but there is probably a better way to TALK to someone in whom there remains at least a glimmer of sanity.

    Hubris, hubris, hubris! Our proud, progressive civilization that is so good at congratulating itself ends up proving it's good at little save congratulating itself!

    1. Hello again, Mr. Pha. Nice to see you.

      You say that as though congratulating itself were not a major achievement for a civilization.

      My party may not think so, but we lost. Twice. We didn't even pick candidates who tried hard enough.

      I confess that it does not really fill me with pride to refer to my party as "my party." Its major virtue is that it is the only significant obstacle to the other party.

    2. How you doing, a6z? Yes, I'm afraid the GOP, Constitution, Libertarian, and other parties really haven't made a compelling case. But, could it be that we've allowed ourselves to be conditioned to look at form over substance and the emotional sound bit over the reasoned discourse?

    3. Dear Mr. Pha,

      Who are this "we" you're talking about?

      More substantively, maybe it isn't how we've been conditioned. Maybe it's the ground state of man (and that goes double for woman). Likely we have to be conditioned as all get-out to look at reasoned discourse over emotional sound-bite, and lately have been less so because our educational institutions have been corrupted.

  3. "We do not have serious people in charge."

    And we won't for at least another three years. Imagine the chaos all those thugs are planning to sponsor!

  4. Gawd this actually was Amateur Hour!

    Making it worse (or better depending ... the chortles into guffaws less arduous ... the phone device being precisely what the Secret Service early on took from the POTUS saying, "Do not use this device, anybody can monitor it!"

    "Nobody should use a Blackberry!"

    I figure it'll all be worked out tomorrow though, Obama we must recall, to find out anything has to read it in the next morning's paper.

    Speedy recovery I'm given to understand? Or, ... Diplowife's been given the keys to Blogdom?

    If the latter I pray she doesn't have access to the archives of ... I'm losing signal ... what's happening? solar flare at this time of night? the Russians? ... well Signalman, see what you can do ... ... tryi8ng to re-establishcontact Commander Arkie ... oh fuck

  5. Our senior people haven't learned anything. They never will.

    They also haven't forgotten anything (from the faculty lounge or the Chicago machine), and never will.

  6. Ah, back are we! And with the little gray cells in good working order. Will this cut into your Vette time? The woes of the world can wait for another comment. After all with such earnest conscientious boobs scurrying about what could go wrong in a day or so?

  7. Welcome back Dip. Trust the surgery went well and the right part of the anatomy was worked on.

  8. The lady [?] is entitled to her opinion of the EU - a pity she isn't smart enough to only communicate it by secure means.

    Seems pointless blaming the Ruskis for releasing the content of her call as it may suit their agenda. It would be better she spent some time assessing her own competence and the effect of her insecure coms not just on the EU but on the other allies of the US who may see this hypocritical behaviour as a warning signal regarding their own dealings with the current administration in Washington.

    To paraphrase a common expression here, "It is sad to see a great nation pissing its reputation up against the wall"

    1. Unfortunately, David, my country is no longer man enough to piss anything against a wall (cf. I Kgs. 21:21, KJV and most pre-19th century translations).

  9. I am back. Typing with only my right hand, and still groggy from the anesthesia. Thanks to all for the kind wishes. I see that during my absence, however, the West remained as dopey as I was.

    1. Welcome back. The West is still using its left hand so it is a balance.

    2. It seems that every day there is more for that left hand to do.

    3. What is it mad mo did with his left hand?

  10. I'm surprised to see someone as canny as Mr Mad chasing the squirrel.
    Never mind the EU, this was a coup plotting moment. Why is the USA trying to overthrow an, as the expression goes, democratically-elected govt?
    Here's the official OSCE blessing of Yanukovich's election.
    I hope Yanukovich PNGs the whole damn bunch of them.

    Bet more intercepts will be coming -- here's another of Germans just out

    1. I was chasing the squirrel because I am still too groggy to chase the bear. You're right, I don't understand what we are doing in Ukraine.

    2. Squirrel problems?

  11. And here's Nuland admitting that Washington has spent $5 billion and bought people in Ukraine. (That's a translation from coup-talk)

    We’ve invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.

    "Today there are senior officials in the Ukrainian government, in the business community, as well as in the opposition, civil society and religious community who believe in this democratic and European future for their country and they’ve been working hard to move their country and their president in the right direction."

    IN short proof that Washington is actually doing what it accuses Moscow of doing.

  12. Yeah... Obama's state department is the diplomatic equivalent of an olympian running a 7 minute mile.
    Wait? How the heck did you get here?

    - reader #1482

  13. Welcome back, Dip. I had two shoulders replaced two years ago. I'm pain-free now, but the TSA cannot believe without deep-tissue xrays that I am not going to bring down the plane I'm about to board. Here's hoping your surgery was not as troubling to the guardians of our air travel.

  14. It's not just incompetence of this administration. Nuland's incompetence spans administrations:


    I'm not one to bite on conspiracy theories, but we have quite a few families embedded within government, some of them on both sides at the same time, that the real power brokers can't be voted out.

  15. Glad to hear you're recovering well.

  16. Well Friends & Fellow Diplomad Readers, all Seventeen of Us?

    A[n] friend/associate "t,asked me" awhile back asking, What Arkie, is your opinion on whether anything will actually happen?

    As y'all I suspect've come to realize I do what 'pre-Snowden' was so much easier to get away with except that now "we've" been replaced - there's another term for it actually and I expect I'll maybe pay a price -

    Steganography across the Blogosphere.

    (Just Guggul the phrase/practice.)

    October 7, 2013:

    According to information received ... Russia's Federal Security Service ... plans "to ensure that no communication by competitors or spectators goes unmonitored during the event." The newly amended Sorm system, which is Russia's telephone and internet spying system, has been described by experts as the NSA's "Prism on steroids."

    Dip I was always gratified in his postings never averred from what was and is the incontrovertible fact - Snowden is a Traitor.

    I worried I'd read some sort of relativism ala Pollard but enough time (and editorializing) has passed I've come to "a certain appreciation" and I'm gratified at that.

    Our "media" of course hasn't let up that "One of the Olympic Rings failed to light up" & stuff like "Sochi's motel room's water is brown" ---- No mention of course that half of West Virginia's schools water fountains remain offline due to a chem spill & electricity and propane are in pretty short supply from Oklahoma to at least Pennsylvania in our neck of the woods.

    Whether Obama's or GW's "fault" I'm guessing those in the dark and cold don't give a flying fig.

    Yeah I realize I'm coming across as "rambly" but I'll be honing in now.

    There's a distinct difference between how I'd be expecting my reception on Diplomad's site amongst any number of Conservatives or any single one of the Liberal persuasion - Conservatives are not opposed in the least to my suggesting what's his name that I'm full of shit and giving me reasons for my saying so. - RINOs excepted but even then ... Conservatives in my general experience aren't wont to go yelling "Waaaycist!" or whatever the consensus our contenders at Sochi have a mind to yell at Putin.

    But as I observed some few months ago here on Diplomad's site - with nobody giving me too much crap about - Aleppo Syria to Sochi is half the distance as is Sochi to Moscow. Heck. In my youth I could row from the Med across to the far side of the Black Sea.

    Or easier ... as our DNI Clapper recently observed, "We have no idea how many Jihadis have travelled to and will be returning from, Syria."

    Thank God the NSA has all that metadata - otherwise rather than the Tsarnaevs having to row across the Atlantic they'd only have to land at JFK.


  17. re Brown water
    a lot of the photos are fakes
    The original toilet photo
    and many present pictures making the rounds are also fake

    And, while on the subject of competence -- regular cellphones apparently

  18. I finally get it. Not online Oxford dictionary (American English) definition 1 smart, "informal having or showing a quick-witted intelligence", but rather online Oxford dictionary (American English) definition 2 smart: "(of a person) clean, neat, and well-dressed: you look very smart".

    I cannot deny that in the latter sense we have smart diplomacy.

  19. Gday Bob, I trust your surgery went well and as you're back blogging I must assume it did. I am truly amazed that in this day and age people are still getting trapped by indiscreet telephony. Cells can be traced and hardlines intercepted. It makes me laugh when I watch a movie with an 'intelligence' aspect and see the actors babbling into mobile phones which are utterly insecure, truly absurd. Anyone within sniffing distance of an intelligence gathering organisation knows this. If you're in the field and must call 'home' you use a public telephone. Unless you are under active counter-surveillance a call box is undetectable. (From Field Agent 101)

  20. "Can anybody doubt that the Western world--with the notable exceptions of Israel, Canada, and Australia--is captained by incompetents?"

    Hey, what about New Zealand? I am not going to claim that John Key is a foreign policy genius, but his knowledge of economics is as extensive as that of the leader of any other country (and understanding the economic incentives of a situation often leads to the correct foreign policy).

    For secure voice communications, I like a program called mumble (open source). Nothing fancy, but easy to set up, and it works.

    1. I wondered about NZ also. They seem to maintain themselves quite well. I still can't tell if anyone here is a participant from NZ. Anyone know?

  21. Merkel's foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned that the UKIP and other skeptics were a threat to peace. Was he secretly taped No, he held a press conference. I’m sure he was fired immediately.

    There is something deeply wrong about saying in German that the desire for people to be independent and skeptical of government is a threat. "I sure hope so,” is the only possible reply. May it forever be that way.

    I’ll believe Merkel is a “former Communist” when he’s fired now and shunned for life.

  22. External forces aside, all is not well within the EUSSR. Maybe more unelected unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels will do the trick.