NSFW FSOs

woman cursingDiplomats by training, if not by disposition, are calm, level-headed types. They may be called on to deliver a harsh message about your human rights situation or those tanks amassing on the border but will do so in a polished, genteel manner. “A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way you look forward to the trip” as the saying goes.

However, once in a while, if they’re particularly peeved, they can unleash an eruption of foul-mouthed epithets that could embarrass a fishmonger’s wife. Herewith some of the choicest examples from various Foreign Service Officers and a few others sprinkled in for good measure. (And if you didn’t guess already, yes, they do contain some raw, Not-Safe-For-Work language, so be forewarned. And kids, don’t try this at home.)

Read NSFW FSOs Part II, then check out 8 Weird Things You Didn’t Know About American Diplomats.

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Go to Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History

 

 

Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright sharply criticizes Cuban manhood

Her famous rejoinder, as opposed to the others on this list, was not blurted out in the heat of the moment but was discussed some time in advance. In 1996, Cuban military pilots shot down two small, unarmed civilian aircraft flown by the Cuban-American exile group Brothers to the Rescue over international waters and, according to transcripts, joked with each other that  they had cojones but the Cuban-American pilots did not.

Albright, who worked to get condemnation of the act at the UN, uttered her now-famous quote, “This is not cojones. This is cowardice.” The line endeared her to President Clinton, who said it was “probably the most effective one-liner in the whole administration’s foreign policy.”

 

 

Ambassador Hume Horan resignedly accepts his fate

horanob25p4Horan was widely respected for being the consummate Arabist. As Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, he received instructions from the Department to inform the King of Washington’s concerns about Saudi Arabia’s plans to buy medium-range missiles from China.

However, he was soon told the U.S. had sent a different message to the Saudis at the same time and that the King was displeased with Horan. Because of the Saudis’ sway, this Arabist could no longer work in the region he had dedicated his life to. Afterwards, he ran into Ed Djerejian from Near Eastern Affairs, who asked how he was doing. Horan replied with with this understandable sentiment.

 

An Admiral yells out a Political Counselor for not agreeing with him

Popeye and Brutus cussingFSO Cleveland was more the target than the perpetrator in this incident. He had been serving as the Political Counselor in Seoul in the mid-1970s and was deeply concerned that forces under the salty Admiral Morgan had committed “an act of piracy” when they attacked North Korean patrol boats on the high seas, which ended up killing 30 North Korean fishermen.

Morgan swatted down Cleveland’s objections with these immortal words.

 

 

The Obama White House lays out its foreign policy guidelines

white houseIn mid-2014 the West Wing distilled its foreign policy mantra for the Middle East and elsewhere into one simple, easy-to-remember phrase:  “Don’t do stupid [stuff].” However, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton obliquely criticized this in an August 2014 interview with The Atlantic, in which she said “don’t do stupid stuff” was not “an organizing principle” worthy of “great nations.” She did soften criticism of her former boss by  saying that President Obama was “trying to communicate to the American people that he’s not going to do something crazy,” but she repeatedly suggested that the U.S. sometimes appears to be withdrawing from the world stage.

 

 

An FSO cusses out the Romanian secret police — and takes a stand for human rights

Coat_of_arms_of_the_Socialist_Republic_of_Romania.svgSwearing at a colleague or in front of the media may not help your career but you probably aren’t endangering your physical well-being. On the other hand, yelling at the secret police in Eastern Europe in the 1970s, takes (to not use Secretary Albright’s turn of phrase) guts.

But that’s what E. Ashley Wills did when a junior officer in Bucharest. One of his jobs was to meet with Romanian dissidents. One day, Romanian security agents walked over to him at his house and told him not to see a leading dissident ever again. Wills said — in Romanian! — “Du te in pizda matei,” which basically means “Hop up on your mother’s private parts.” Fortunately, Wills was able to eventually resume meeting the dissident and security never bothered him again. And despite the lack of judgment, Wills did OK for himself — he later became Ambassador to Sri Lanka. The language skills probably didn’t hurt.

 

Someone in Foreign Building Operations tells a colleague what to do with that funding

YELLINGWe get it. Working in a bureaucracy can be tough, especially when your colleagues are ordering you to do something that you really should not. That was John Helm’s problem. He was in FBO back in the 1980s and was told to send funding for an embassy project in Islamabad, even though he had no authority to do so.

Then he said something he shouldn’t have. And followed that up with something else he shouldn’t have said, which didn’t go over too well, either. They demanded a public apology. Which he gave. Rather halfheartedly. After that, he was shipped off to the worst place they could think of:  Mogadishu, Somalia. And still, he was so happy to get out of FBO that Mogadishu looked pretty good.

 

 

 

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