Remember when Donald Rumsfeld made a distinction between “old” and “new” Europe? Remember how undiplomatic it supposedly was? Remember how many people got upset as a consequence?
Germans were already smarting from revelations that U.S. intelligence listened in on the phone conversations of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Then came Nulandgate.
On Thursday, a video was posted on YouTube in which Victoria Nuland, the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, disparagingly dismissed European Union efforts to mediate the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine by bluntly saying, “F— the E.U.” On Friday, Merkel, through press attache Christiane Wirtz, described the gaffe as “absolutely unacceptable,” and defended the efforts of Catherine Ashton, the E.U.’s foreign policy chief.
“The chancellor finds these remarks absolutely unacceptable and wants to emphasize that Mrs. Ashton is doing an outstanding job,” Wirtz said.
Still freshly furious over the phone-tapping scandals, Germans took to Twitter and other social media in a litany of bitter comments. “Since we know now that the leadership circles in the #USA don’t give a s— about Europe, we should just stop the Free Trade Agreement,” came one tweet from @kl1lercher, referring to ongoing negotiations to forge a transatlantic free-trade deal. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said at a media briefing Friday that “this just goes to show once more that wiretapping is stupid.”
And of course, this is the part when the overwhelming majority of those who got worked into a lather over Rumsfeld’s comments maintain a very noticeable silence.
Yes, in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t mean very much (though I too cannot believe how indiscreet State Department officials chose to be over an unsecured line). But this story does make for a good entry in the “Imagine if a Republican Said this Kind of Thing” file.