NSFW FSOs, Part II

Cursing1As in so many other professions, integrity is the hallmark of a good diplomat. In most cases. As Henry Wooton famously said way back in 1604, “An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country” (or, for you classics students, “Legatus est vir bonus peregre missus ad mentiendum rei publicae causa”).

And while the examples provided below do not deal with lying, they do show diplomats using untoward language in the heat of the moment. (And if you didn’t guess already, yes, they do contain some raw, Not-Safe-For-Work language, so you have herewith been forewarned.)

Check out NSFW FSOs, Part I and then read Ten Things You Learn from a Hostage Situation

Return to Inside Foggy Bottom

Go to Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History

Kissinger Sizes Up a New Colleague

kissinger supermanHenry Kissinger is widely regarded as a brilliant thinker and foreign policy tactician. Nurturing, warm and fuzzy — not so much. When Mark Palmer first met Super K, looking for a job as one of his speechwriters, Palmer earnestly told him, “I’ve read all of your books. I’ve virtually memorized them. I am certain that I can write in your style. And I am a Foreign Service officer and we (meaning the Foreign Service) have a right to be considered for any position and you’ve got to give me an opportunity to write one speech for you.”

Not surprisingly, Kissinger looked at an aide and dismissively said this.

 

 

Assistant Secretary Toria Nuland Offers Her Frank Assessment of the EU

victoria-nulandToria Nuland is known as an “undiplomatic diplomat” for her honest, upfront way of dealing with other diplomats. Which many people find refreshing. Unless you happen to be someone or something that displeases her. In 2014, Ukraine had just experienced massive protests against the Russian-backed government and was on the verge of losing Crimea to a de facto Russian invasion. Nuland’s European colleagues did not stand up to Moscow as they should have, which led her to utter these immortal words (for which she had to apologize later).

 

 

William Watts tells Al Haig and Henry Kissinger he’s quitting

haigWilliam Watts, who at the time had been promoted to the position of White House Staff Secretary for the National Security Council under President Richard Nixon in 1969, worked closely with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. Watts became increasingly disillusioned with the administration’s policy in Vietnam and the planning for an invasion of Cambodia.

Despite his opposition, Watts discovered he was going to be the person overseeing the operation. He then decided to resign and had a fiery confrontation with Kissinger, who told him “Your views represent the cowardice of the Eastern Establishment.” That’s when Watt came up out of his chair and tried to hit him. Haig then looked at him and said, “You have had an order from your Commander-in-Chief and you can’t refuse.” Watts looked at him and said this.

Ambassador Urges Air Force Pilot to Move It — Now!

Ethiopian-Airlines-Flight-961In 1996, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 was hijacked by three men who wanted the pilot to fly to Australia. Although the plane was nearly out of fuel, the hijackers ignored the captain’s warnings. Out of options, the captain was forced to ditch the plane. Only 50 passengers survived. Ambassador to Mauritius Harry Geisel coordinated efforts to get the deceased Americans returned to the United States. This was no small feat given the incompetence of local authorities, the lack of facilities, and the obstinance of one particular NSC official, which caused the Ambassador to react in a less-than-diplomatic manner.

 

Ambassador Robert Ford Criticizes White House on Syria

Robert FordIn October 2011, Robert Ford, a career Foreign Service Officer and widely respected Arabist, was recalled from Syria due to what the State Department called “credible threats” to his safety. Although he was reportedly in line as the next U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, he left the Foreign Service a few months afterward to protest the Obama administration’s inaction in the face of growing atrocities by the Assad regime in Syria.

When his critics asserted there was no such thing as an Arab moderate, Ford offered an equally undiplomatic response.

 

 

 

An Exasperated FSO Tells Off His Ambassador 

Gerry-CarmenBeauveau B. Nalle served for 30 years in the Foreign Service. After years of serving in Africa, he finally got a nice, cushy assignment at the U.S. Mission in Geneva, with his own staff, a large budget, and a fancy title. It should’ve been a dream job. Except his boss was a former used tire salesman who despised the UN and hated the Foreign Service. And because this was his last assignment and there was no real chance for promotion, he didn’t feel at all constrained in letting his feelings be known, as undiplomatic as they may be.

So when the Ambassador insisted Nalle bypass regulations, because “nobody has to know about this.” That’s when he lost his temper, stood up and uttered those words that many frustrated office workers wish they could say to their incompetent boss.