Saturday, February 8, 2014

reading the eavesdroppings

It often happens when the headlines on a news item miss the important part of the story. That was certainly the case this week when somebody [who probably learned English and the Latin alphabet as a second language] leaked parts of a phone call between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt.

The headline, and resulting controversy, went to Nuland's dismissive comment about the European Union's ineffective efforts to influence the current political unrest in Ukraine. As you can read below, her "Fuck the EU" comment is off-hand, the way most of us have felt one time or another when frustrated by the actions of a colleague or boss. It certainly was not the topic sentence in a diatribe about the many faults of European diplomacy.

The background of the call was explained by the State Department's press spokesperson:
It is no secret that Ambassador Pyatt and Assistant Secretary Nuland have been working with the Government of Ukraine, with the opposition, with business and civil society leaders to support their efforts, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that at any point, there have been discussions about recent events and offers and what is happening on the ground. And as you know, Assistant Secretary Nuland is on the ground right now continuing our efforts in that regard.
A more interesting analysis, along with the text of the leaked parts of the call, was in the Christian Science Monitor. Dan Murphy notes the likelihood that the call -- most improperly -- was made over an insecure line and thus easily tapped.

What strikes me is the language of these senior officials: overly slangy, with exaggerated metaphors. They use nicknames for the Ukrainian political leaders, use phrases like: "top dog," "help glue this thing,"  "we could land jelly side up," and Biden is willing to do "an attaboy."  Can't they be more professional and diplomatic?

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