How can the State Department have messed this up?


No really, how?

Hillary Clinton wanted to symbolise a ‘new start’ in US/Russia relations by handing over to Russian Foreign Minister Lvrov a gift of a red button with the Russian word for ‘reset’ on it.


They want to reset the relationship the way you press a button and bring back to life a frozen Palm device. But did they want a Soft, Warm or Hard reset? Not clear.

Anyway, Hillary produced a little red button mounted on a black base with the Russian word перегрузка (peregruzka) on it:

“We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” Clinton asked.

“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said. 

Instead of “reset,” Lavrov said the word on the box meant “overcharge.”

Well, that too.

As any fool can see, peregruzka is a Russian feminine noun, not a verb. It comes from the Slav root suffix meaning over/through/too/again (perestroika = restructuring) and the root word meaning weight/load.


перегрузка (f)
n. overload, overburden; transshipment; congestion; overwork

It took me a couple of minutes via Google to find out what this word exactly meant. It obviously has nothing to do with re-setting anything.

If not even doing that is what the US State Department under new management calls working hard, call me a Cossack.

Still, unlike another bafflingly naff US high-level diplomatic gift this week, this one will hold for decades to come pride of place in the Russian Foreign Ministry.

As an awesome example of unipolar ineptitude and Unsmart Diplomacy by the Americans.

It reminds me of another excellent Clinton blunder, when President Bill Clinton’s team wrote to thank the Romanians for presenting him with a poncho, when in fact he had been given a symbolic Romanian flag with the communist ensignia cut out. A senior Romanian diplomat assured me that this had indeed happened, to Romanian private stupefaction.

Are these people by some chance related?

Change! Hope!

Update: Welcome readers from Tim Worstall who tersely asks “Do normal people, real people, actually give a shit what politicans and bureaucrats do? Other than paying for it all, of course?”

I suspect that they do not care that much, if at all. But maybe they at least gloomily yearn for a certain minimal competence on the part of their leaders, especially in their high-profile pronouncements and actions when dealing with foreigners. Keeping up appearances and all that.

Unless, that is, they have given up hope in democracy entirely and are so worn down by it all that they actually want more incompetence, not less, as it both makes things more amusing and serves to discredit politicians all the more?