Coffee House

Why condemn the US diplomat caught on tape denouncing the EU? She has a point

7 February 2014

7 February 2014

I have my criticisms of the Obama administration, but it does seem to have the right idea about the European Union’s diplomatic efficacy. His top diplomat for European and Eurasian affairs, Victoria Nuland, has been taking a lot of stick after she was caught on tape (or hacked, as we Brits would call it)  discussing the Ukraine problem with the US ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt. She was rude about the EU, but the condemnation of her language seems to have overlooked her central point.

The EU has been trying to muscle in on talks about Ukraine’s pro-democracy moves. It could have helped by offering membership to Ukraine, but it prevaricated – and now wants to insert this prevarication into the negotiations. No wonder other (non-Russian) diplomats are dismayed.

The Americans have a clearer line on Ukraine. A few weeks back, Nuland herself went to Independence Square in Kiev to denote her support for the pro-democracy demonstrators. In her conversation, she is caught telling her colleague that the UN is getting more involved – and that its secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, is about to appoint a representative to Ukraine. She then says:-

“That would be great I think to help glue this thing and have the UN glue it. And you know, fuck the EU.”

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And here’s the audio:-

An admirable sentiment – inelegantly expressed, perhaps, but her overall point is clear. The EU should not try to behave like a United States of Europe – Norman Lamont recently wrote a piece in the Spectator asking if the EU really needs 32 diplomats in Mozambique Or 44 in Barbados. It’s appalling mission creep, and it would be okay if the EU was effective. But it isn’t.

As Lamont put it:-

The puzzle is, what do these embassies do that is not being done by embassies of individual members? What can the EU embassy in Moscow do that the German, French, Italian ones cannot? Does the EU have some interest separate from that of its members? And if not, why is it spending so much of other people’s money?

A very good question – and one to which there is no answer. As Victoria Nuland seems to have worked out.

Update: the below from an editorial in Saturday’s Wall St Journal:

As for Ms. Nuland’s frustration with EU foot-dragging on Ukraine, who hasn’t had the same thought? Moscow’s independent radio station Ekho Moskvy reported from Kiev Friday on the large number of Ukrainians who shared her view and cheered her honesty. Many EU diplomats are also upset by the unwieldy 28-member bloc’s inability to rise to the occasion in its backyard. Ms. Nuland apologized for her sailor’s tongue, but it’s laughable to call it a scandal, or even a gaffe.

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Show comments
  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Laugh? I damn near ruptured myself. The biter bit. The US spies on all and sundry, but spits the dummy when the tables are turned.

  • Alexander Kruglov

    You may think whatever you want however as a Russian I fairly suppose that the slogan “Fuck the EU!” is a real base of stable, blooming and mutually beneficial Russian – British relations!

  • Bonkim

    Regardless of Ms Nuland, does the UK want Ukrainians to join the queue of eastern Europeans wanting to come here to work and get social benefits?

  • Mike

    I’m sure most in the UK have exactly the same sentiments as this lady and I applaud her for telling it as it is.

  • roger

    Was it Lord Grey who said ‘A diplomat is employed to go abroad and swear for his country ‘, not quite.

  • Terence Hale

    Why condemn the US diplomat caught on tape denouncing the EU? She has a point. May be but in such a vulgar language she has done more damage. She should be sacked.

  • Banafsheh Zand

    If you don’t know this woman’s angle, then you don’t know what she’s saying. You’re twisting her intentions and her intentions are purely self-motivated…she’s not against the EU…it’s just her stupid figure of speech.

  • Q46

    She should get a medal!

    But ironically her Big Boss thinks the EU is just great.

  • Patrick Fox

    The only thing these pointless EU diplomats do is hand out wodges of cash to grasping third world kleptocrats. Sadly it is our money

  • D Whiggery

    44 in Barbados? ;-DDDD

    They’re not even trying to be subtle.

  • Conway

    Of course the EU needs ambassadors. It’s trying to pretend it’s a country.

  • global city

    That should be UKIP’s main election slogan. Imagine the horror of all those europhiles who say that we must stay in the EU ‘coz the yanks want us too’, if the banner had ‘endorsed by the USA’ on it.

    Yeah: Fuck the EU.

    worth at least thirty seats in 2015!

    • Conway

      That would be victoria sponge then? :)

      • global city

        Queen Victoria would have fitted the ‘fogey’ narrative even better. :)

  • Curnonsky

    How about UKIP-FTEU?

    • Wessex Man

      sounds good.

  • David Booth.

    Who was it that said a diplomat is a person sent abroad to lie for their country?

    • Fergus Pickering

      An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for his country. Sir Henry Wotton about 1600 and you have buggered up his wordplay.

      • David Booth.

        The first five words of my comment should have indicated the direction of my request. The word play is still there ie lie/die, but thank you for giving me the full quote ignoring your bad manners of course.

        • Fergus Pickering

          It is my mission to correct error. You HAVE buggered up the wordplay. He uses ‘lie’ in two senses. You do not. Have a nice day.

          • allymax bruce

            I like your style, Fergus. You also appreciate the delicacy of words, and their ‘play’ in use. A clever, deep-thinking man.

          • David Booth.

            You really are a silly man, now go away and leave the grown ups in peace.

  • Fergus Pickering

    A splendid comment in any situation. Let’s hear it for this woman. What did she say? Fuck the EU. The right thing to say in almost every context.

    • Swanky

      Love it!

      • Fergus Pickering

        It swings, doesn’t it?

        • Swanky

          It does. : )

  • fubarroso

    …and it would be okay if the EU was effective. But it isn’t

    Sorry Fraser, but no it wouldn’t be OK. The EU has no legitimacy and should not be interfering in international affairs outside its borders.

  • Terry Song


    • Hexhamgeezer

      The Spec’s cover for next week.

      • global city

        with an image of the Somerset Levels just to illustrate the utter dominance but incompetence of the EU.

  • HookesLaw

    Why condemn a diplomat for saying ‘F*** …etc’?
    Well I think the clue is in the name ‘diplomat’.

    • Fergus Pickering

      But she didn’t say it in public. She was hacked.

    • Kitty MLB

      Someone is actually being honest, everyone is sick of hearing about the EU.
      Well done lady- be as forget being diplomatic and politically correct-
      just stuff the EU.. same word isn’t it 😉

  • London Calling

    Victoria is right, F”””k the EU, what have they ever done for us but try to control from their totalitarian seat of rules and regulation, too centralised for their own good, we are better off out and those few business in the UK that export to the EU can stay in and continue if they want…….The EU…….. Who are they anyway? and why did we give them so much power over us? ……….

    • Fergus Pickering

      You can say it, you know. Altogether now. Fuck the EU. It has a ring to it!

      • global city

        UKIP 2015 campaign slogan

    • Kitty MLB

      She most certainly right, wish we would say the same.
      Cameron should be the first to say it and give the Lib Dums a heart attack !

  • Makroon

    The demonstrators are NOT pro-democracy, they are trying to remove an elected government by street violence. The BBC has taken on the habit of sympathising with every anti-government protest anywhere (Thailand, Ukraine, Egypt, Turkey), probably because they support “Occupy” and “Uncut”.
    Presumably Fraser Nelson thinks any elected government is “anti-democratic” if they have a complexion with which he doesn’t agree ?
    Back to the cold-war circa 1952 then.

    • HookesLaw

      I don’t know enough to know if you are right. You may be. They arre entitled to protest as in any democracy. They are not entitled to use violence in a democracy. If the Ukraine is not a true democracy – if there is no chance of their views being represented in an election – then they may be justified.

      What is interesting – despite the quite understandable comments by the US Ambassador and Lamont – is that the protestors want to join the EU.

      • Makroon

        Ukraine is mostly Orthodox, but with a largish Catholic minority, mostly due to Stalin’s annexation of a chunk of Poland. I guess it’s the Polish/Hungarian minority who are most keen to join the EU.

  • Robert_Eve

    I agree with Victoria!!

  • Denis_Cooper

    “The EU has been trying to muscle in on talks about Ukraine’s pro-democracy moves. It could have helped by offering membership to Ukraine, but it prevaricated – and now wants to insert this prevarication into the negotiations. No wonder other (non-Russian) diplomats are dismayed.”
    Well, let them be dismayed,

    • HookesLaw

      What we might want is access to sell to Ukraine’s 45 million population. I don’t see why accession should trigger a referendum. Anyway we will get a referendum in 2017 as long as UKIP do not gift a majority to Labour., So what are you moaning for – again.

      • Denis_Cooper

        Of course you, as a tribal Tory supporter, don’t see why we should have a referendum on whether we want another load of foreigners to be granted the automatic right to come and live in our country, while we are forced to pay more taxes to subsidise their home country, and while they vote against our interests within the EU institutions. Of course you don’t think we should be asked before that is agreed, and of course that is just one reason why we should not vote for your crap unpatriotic anti-democratic party.

        • HookesLaw

          I’m tribally anti Labour and Socialism.
          Ukrainians do not or would not have automatic rights to live in our country. There would be a transition period first and their entitlement is to work here not simply live here.
          Furthermore even if we left the EU and joined the EEA and as such remained in the single market and obeyed single market rules, we would be required to sign up to the EU freedom of movement of labour. We just would have no say whatever in making EU rules and no prospect of any referendum. You and UKIP peddle lies in the pursuit of your basichysterical xenophobia.

          Endless laws which have far more affect on us than the accession of Ukraine get passed without referendum. We entered 2 world wars and the Korean war without referendums

          • fubarroso

            I’m tribally anti Labour and Socialism

            So why are you supportive of a left-wing liberal anti-conservative Tory party?

          • Denis_Cooper

            “There would a transition period first”

            And after that totally inadequate transition period they would have the automatic right to come and live in our country and either work or pretend to work.

            “Furthermore even if we left the EU and joined the EEA and as such remained in the single market and obeyed single market rules, we would be required to sign up to the EU freedom of movement of labour.”

            F**k the EEA, who said that we would remain in the EEA?

            “We just would have no say whatever in making EU rules”

            That is not true, see page 51 – 53 here:


            which concludes about the EEA as follows:

            “So the image of EEA members meekly incorporating EU edicts as they roll off the fax machine from Brussels is a straightforward fallacy.”

            But I don’t imagine that will stop you repeating it even though you know it isn’t true.

            “We entered 2 world wars and the Korean war without referendums”

            I believe the purpose of those wars was to defend our country for our nation, not to sell it out or open it up to mass immigration.

            Why are you so afraid of asking the British people whether they are content for the contract with eight other countries to which they gave their approval in the 1975 referendum to be extended to other countries?

            Let me guess – because you think that for most of those other nineteen countries allowed in since 1975 the answer would have been “no”, and being a Tory and having little interest in democracy you wouldn’t like that.

          • Wessex Man

            I’ll tell you what Hooky I saw a Lib/Dum propaganda broadcast this week in which your party’s Allies told so many lies about employment I thought Leg Over’s nose was going to shoot out, least I thought it was his nose!

            Fact is that the EU export 26.5 billion euros more more to us each year than we export to them and six and a half million EU jobs depend on it. Any lie will do when trying to make us stay in this cesspit will help of course!

        • Kitty MLB

          So what party should the crap patriotic Grass Root
          Tories vote for then.
          A large amount of us wish for a new leader for the Conservative Party- who is actually Conservative-
          Not a new Party.
          We also wish to leave the EU, its dying elephant
          that needs to be put to sleep – not a plaster.
          I am also not sticking up for The arch deceiver Cameron,
          and I always defend UKIP who I think are unfairly besmirched,
          but what would you do for the Economy-
          besides leave the EU- if I may be excused for asking
          thank you 😉

      • Wessex Man

        Hooky you know that’s not going to happen now,. if Call me Doris really wanted a referendum he would ensure that it was pushed through!

        • Fergus Pickering

          How, oh wise one? Where does he get the votes? A tiresome necessity, but there you are.

  • Graeme S

    Ukraine, I am amazed out of one dictatorship the USSR and straight into another dictatorship . I thought you had more sense

    • ArchiePonsonby

      Perhaps they think that the EU would provide a sufficient counterweight to Russia, somehow forgetting that they are both equally reliant on Russian fuel?

  • an ex-tory voter

    She does indeed have a point. A very perceptive and forward thinking woman.

    • Conway

      Yes, sharp, pithy and spot on.

  • MajorFrustration

    So why do our politicians allow this to happen?

  • Chris lancashire

    And, of course, Fraser the USA has an unrivalled record of getting it right in foreign affairs so let’s take notice of Ms Nuland. Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan ……..

    • fubarroso

      Of course the EU has a perfect record of getting it right in foreign affairs so lets take notice. Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia….

      • Chris lancashire

        Absolutely correct; the EU and the ludicrous Ashton should not be involved in foreign affairs at all. That said, my point remains that the USA has a poor record when it interferes in other country’s affairs.
        On top of that does anyone imagine that Putin’s Russia is going to allow broad US or EU involvement on its Western border? I mean, what would the USA’s reaction be to Russia involving itself in, say, Cuba …,,?

        • fubarroso

          what would the USA’s reaction be to Russia involving itself in, say, Cuba …,,?

          Same as last time I would imagine. Put the doomsday clock at one minute to midnight.

          • Chris lancashire

            Precisely. So the US should keep its nose out of Ukraine.

            • fubarroso

              I don’t disagree Chris. It should be no one else’s business what happens in Ukraine and that goes for the Eu and the Ruskies as well.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Because the greatest crime in the modern world is offending some entity and the entities are all on hair trigger tenterhooks waiting to be offended, almost wanting to be offended. If ‘outrage’ was a domestic product we would be wealthy beyond our wildest dreams.

    • allymax bruce

      Yes, i agree; it was The Labour Party that instituted this ‘offensive’ crap. They even instituted an Equality Commission headed by Trevor Philips, a black man, to further force the Imposition of ‘more moral than thee’, by ‘moralising the amoral’ (allymax), as a way of forcing the country under complete and utter control & compliance. And, I’ve been saying this for 5 years now.

      Considering your comment, Col’, you don’t mind if anybody tells you to F*** Off?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Generally, that comment is reserved for those who are intrusive, not those balking at the intrusion.

  • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

    Poor Fraser, you’re deluded if you think the creation of the EEC/EU was only about free trade. It’s about a US of E, always has been, always will be. And if you don’t wake up it won’t be long before they’ve achieved their goal.

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers

      What’s wrong with that goal? Are you Chinese or American?

      • Tony_E

        What’s wrong with that goal? Where do you want me to start?

        1) I didn’t vote for it.
        2) The legislation that it passes is devised by a kind of quasi civil service and voted upon by a well paid elite, it’s structure is therefore not really democratic.
        3) Most of what comes out of it makes everybody in the EU poorer, without national government to at least attempt to stand in the way we would be even more poorly governed by a mix of disparate individuals.
        4)The Euro – I could expand but anyone with any knowledge of economics knows that its an albatross.
        5) Mission creep – the EU expands it’s role one emergency at a time, it no longer even abides by the treaties that formed it. Who voted for that? Make it a ‘country’ and centralised power will be so far removed from the people that we will have no say in how we live at all. It thinks we haven’t noticed – we have!
        6) It creates a tariff barrier with the emerging economies, and as a percentage of world wealth, Europe has got smaller since we joined it, sealing us off from a world of opportunity.
        7) It regulates trade terms between member states and the outside world, as well as trade between member states themselves – just plain dumb. I have a government to do that already, the one I voted for in Westminster.
        8) Brussels is the lobbying capital of the world – every vested interest is served by it. It then forces national governments to implement its pork barrel protectionism by force of directives. How much power would we have to even argue against it if Brussels was the primary tier of government for all policy?
        9) It seeks to behave like a country when it has none of the real attributes of one – like trying to dictate a single foreign policy and setting up ’embassies’, and it’s been hideously ineffective at it. Making it a ‘nation’ won’t make it face one way on foreign policy any more than it does now.

        And lastly 10) It isn’t a country – and if you try to make it one it would only be held together by force.

        • BarkingAtTreehuggers

          You never voted for anything. Not for your Monarch, not the state religion, not for an unelected Privy or a House of Lords.

          You are beginning to understand that Napoleon was not beaten by democrats, he was beaten by business interest in return for a piece of the pie, you are beginning to understand that our Parliament is not a democratic Parliament as it does not allow for democratic representation of the demos, you are beginning to understand that your land and your oil and your shale gas is not yours, you are beginning to understand that ANY deal done does not involve ‘you’ or ‘your’ opinion.

          You are beginning to understand that Britain is in fact the Saudi Arabia of Europe. You are beginning to understand that all these issues are linked, how they are linked, and what needs to be done next.

          • global city

            The simplest solution for you would be to move somewhere more principled then, surely?

            Why are you backing the attempt to drag the whole country kicking and screaming under a foreign domination that you and just a few others see as preferable.

            As I wrote above… some odd obsessions, Europhiles.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Britain is the Saudi Arabia of Europe? I like it. One way of keeping those pesky women in place, eh? And dig those robes.

          • Colonel Mustard

            ‘Our’ parliament? I took you for an American from your curious use of g.d.

          • Q46

            The monarch can be removed at any time by Act of Parliament; who sits in Parliament can be determined exclusively by the British electorate; nobody is forced to obey the laws of ‘the State Religion’; the House of Lords is not a legislating chamber.

            Would it were the same for the EU and the European Commission.

      • global city

        if it was the genuine wish of European people to band together and dismantle their nation in consequence then, yes, you may have a point…. but you haven’t.

        Why do you see America as the enemy and the EU as ‘us’? That is truly weird… and creepy. Europhiles do tend to be quite odd people, with strange obsessions.

        • BarkingAtTreehuggers

          Where did I state America was the enemy? And how could you possibly assert the thinking classes in Europe were not in favour of precisely that? Show me the data, pal.

          The ‘US of E’ is a construct in many ways *modelled* on its namesake – some will argue the naming was chosen to attract the interest of those who have inhabited these isles for centuries but are sick of this tiresome obsession with *Splendid Isolation by default*. Care to elaborate on your obsession with that?

          • Tony_E

            You haven’t made one positive argument as to why we are ‘better together’ .

      • Q46

        May I refer you to history, 1803 to 1815, 1914 to 1918, 1939 to 1945.

  • allymax bruce

    There’s one thing I’ll say about President Obama’s administration; they’ve all got balls! President Obama is the greatest USA President since President Kennedy; USA should be proud of such forthright politicans and above-average intelligent Admin’.

    • HookesLaw

      This is the US Administration that does not want to see an independent Scotland?

      • allymax bruce

        Ermm; no! You couldn’t be more wrong.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Kennedy? What’s Kennedy other than a serial adulterer with big teeth.

      • allymax bruce

        What’s Hollywood other than a Zionist cabal, and a ‘legitimised’ way for these same Zionists to abuse women?
        Hypocracy is in all Mankind; all depends to what degree you decide how moral, immoral something is in that degree.

  • kyalami

    44 diplomats in Barbados. Room for one more?

    • dmitri the impostor

      Diplomats. What do they do? If a country is friendly, we trade with it. If it is hostile (and smaller) we drop the bomb on it. Simple.

      Embassies should be shut down and their effete, Ferrero-Rocher guzzling inhabitants made to dig the roads.

      • Andy

        What do they do ? Simple: play golf, go sailing and party.

  • In2minds

    Pro-democracy campaigners who want to join the EU, do they really understand the EU?

    • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

      I wonder how much money is coming from the EU to support their campaign?

      • Colonel Mustard

        Not much apparently. The Soviet Union – er, I mean Russia – are forking out millions.

      • BarkingAtTreehuggers

        Vitaly Klitschko has spent a heavily endorsed life in Berlin. ‘He was awarded Germany’s highest civilian award, the Federal Cross of Merit, for his varied accomplishments.’ It comes as no surprise that he is not opposed by the Brussels crowd.

  • Slim Jim

    Amen to that! Also, what Norman Lamont said is absolutely bang on.

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