Mr Obama hopes to “reset” in Moscow…or something like that
United States President Obama arrived in Moscow today and we can only hope that the Russians will overlook a series of gaffes begun earlier by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. First off during the campaign when running for the position as leader of the free world, Mrs Clinton couldn’t pronounce the name of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Then there was the case of the“reset” button. One hates to be overly critical but if you’re going to use the Russian language, at least get it right. But, Mrs. Clinton didn’t get the English text right either.
Let’s review: In March she presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a small red button mounted on a yellow base. She called it a “reset” button lettered in both English and Russian Cyrillic. She then asked him if she got it right.
Human nature says you only ask if you got it right when subconsiously you fear its wrong. Her subconsious was right, it was wrong. In fact, while the national media hasn’t fessed up yet, both words were wrong.
In English the button reads “reset” and the Russian word was both translated incorrectly, and mispelled.
The word she wanted to use and for which the Foreign Minister corrected her on TV, was ‘перезагрузка.’ Sorry Mrs Clinton, it doesn’t mean “reset” either. There is a distinctly separate word for that. This one means “reboot.” Thankfully Mr. Lavrovlet it slide.
In regards to the botched translation: do we not have any qualified translators left in the State Department? One big reason why they got the Russian word wrong was a failure to verify with the folks on the ground. We do have a United States Embassy in Moscow and assuredly lots of folks at the Moscow Embassy are fluent in Russian.
The State Department, which was busy already working with the Embassy making preparations for the Secretary’s trip, could have picked up the phone and asked someone at the US Moscow Embassy how to spell reset, or reboot, or restart, or whatever Mrs Clinton hoped to communicate.
But there is the problem: The Ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, was appointed by the previous US adminstration so technically he’s not “Obama’s boy.” This means that simple things like coordination and cooperation between the White House, State Department and the USA’s Embassy in Moscow is not a priority. That’s a shame for such important relations.
Ambassador Beyrle is a career diplomat who has served the USA ably in several countries. He’s not a political junkie and his door is open to helping make things work smoothly between the two countries. He was a professional, not a political appointment, of former President Bush.
But that won’t matter. This is an administration which sees no need for professionals. So brace yourself for more embarrassing moments in the next few years. Oh, there may be some successes, but the junior senator from Illinois and his staff don’t need help from experienced hands.
They can make silly blunders all by themselves.