03 April 2012

Diplomatic Incident

Russians, according to chief American "diplomat" in Moscow

Over at the excellent The Kremlin Stooge blog, I was made aware of a telling diplomatic incident that took place a few days ago. Dealing with Russian reporters American ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, accused them of spying on him and went on to lambast Russia as a "barbarian country". The juiciest part of McFaul's outburst reads:
“Aren’t you ashamed of doing this? This insults your country, do you understand this?"

"It looks like I am in a barbarian country. This is abnormal. It never happens in my country, in England, Germany, or China. It happens only here and only with you.”
It's rather interesting, drop an American functionary in the imagined Rednecklandia otherwise known as Eastern Europe and suddenly the representative of a nation barely 200 years old, suddenly starts to think of himself as kin to a Roman, or a Greek forced to deal with abnormal barbarians refusing to conform to long-established norms of civilized societies.     

Later, after his comments were made public by the reporters, McFaul retracted his words. In a Twitter post he claimed to have "misspoken in bad Russian", that his characterization as "wild" was meant for the actions of the television he was dealing with and not the country, and that actually he respects Russia:
"Just watched NTV. I mispoke[sic] in bad Russian. Did not mean to say 'wild country.' Meant to say NTV actions 'wild.' I greatly respect Russia."
Notably his retraction-via-Twitter did not come with an actual apology for "misspeaking". The explanation offered is also bung. The context makes it clear McFaul meant exactly what he said.

Aside from being a hothead outraged with the barbarian ways of Scythians, oops, make that Russians, McFaul is also a State Department "expert" on color revolutions, who has authored essays, books and given lectures on this topic. That's right, official Washington could not find a more appropriate person to send to parley with the Russians than a "diplomat" with expertise in "spreading democracy" and regime subversion in post-Communist Europe. Indeed, after taking the post of ambassador to Russia this January it took the guy exactly two days to host a meeting with Russian opposition figures and foreign-backed NGOs.

McFaul's appointment to the post of ambassador to Russia itself signifies the extent to which "American diplomacy" has become an oxymoron and with what level of arrogance Washington approaches the rest of the world. For all of McFaul's theoretical expertise, there isn't the slightest chance of a color revolution in Russia. This makes his efforts with the opposition seem comical and his appointment seem borne of delusion. Probably a more appropriate appointee for the chief diplomatic posting in Moscow would have been an official whose expertise is actually in diplomacy. It may have spared DC some embarrassment and at least one diplomatic gaffe.