Just Embarrassing

by Joshua Foust on 3/9/2009 · 5 comments

First, Hillary Clinton couldn’t pronounce “Medvedev.” Now, she doesn’t know how to spell “reset” (the “reset” button said peregruzka instead of perezagruzka).

When will our long nightmare come to an end?

Subscribe to receive updates from Registan

This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

For information on reproducing this article, see our Terms of Use


michaelhancock March 9, 2009 at 9:18 am

I bet someone in the State Department just lost their job. Or was forced to go out and buy a good dictionary. And I think “Reload” would be a better translation of перезагружать but that’s because I remember it from my Russian version of Windows XP.

noah tucker March 9, 2009 at 9:53 am

The thing that scares me a bit about it is that it was the russian press that pointed this out… meaning no one noticed until… well, nobody on our side noticed, period. Granted, the trick is in the transliteration and in the latin alphabet it’s fairly easy to mentally fill in the “h”, but still…

Curmudgeon March 9, 2009 at 10:40 am

“When will our long nightmare come to an end?”

As soon as someone who isn’t a semi-closeted imperialist gets appointed SecState? We haven’t had much luck in that area for longer than I can remember….

There’s not a lot of motivation to get these kind of things right if the pervasive belief from the top is that the proper place for the rest of the world is a position of subservience to the United States.

Matthew March 10, 2009 at 9:55 pm

The stupid push buttons they gave out are far more embarrassing than any misspelling on them. Anyway, while I’m sure Josh is exaggerating to make a point, calling this a “nightmare”, especially after after the last eight years, is just silly. This isn’t even an “Ich bin ein Berliner” level of gaffe.

Michael Andersen March 11, 2009 at 3:57 am

Come on, Michael, don’t be so hard on the poor people in the State Department – why would you expect that there would be someone in there who knows proper Russian?
At least they speak very good American, having lied beautifully and effectively about human rights in Uzbekistan and Central Asia for many years, and – see the last report from this month – they are still at it.
And Noah, why be surprised that no American/Western journalist noticed the wrong word on the push button? Surely you are not implying that actually knowing Russian is a prerequisite for being a Russia correspondent for any US outlet? Now that’s just crazy talk that, that’s what we have stringers for.
And calling it ‘a nightmare’… for whom? Yes, maybe for the Central Asians who back then in 2001-02 actually hoped that some improvement would come of the US involvement in the region…. ha-ha to those naïve souls (read Sean Roberts’ great analysis recently of US involvement in the region on his site)
And by the way, ‘peregruzhka’ is, of course, a perfect decription of the US-Russian relationship right now.
‘Over-load’ or ‘too heavy a load’ is, btw, a better translation I believe – seeing as so (too) much is depending on this doomed relationship – Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, NATO’s future, not too mention Iran etc. And Obama and co naively believe that smiles and persuasion and giving funny push buttons to cleptokratic murderers will make any difference.
Great that we have somebody so schooled and knowledgeable in international affairs in charge as Mrs Clinton (well, she and her daughter have been under fire in the former Yugoslavia as we all know, and look how well she handled the whole Manas air base affair….. and I believe she often followed Bill around, sipping tea with the other president’s wives).
I predict we will soon hear her talk about when she looked into Medvedev’s eyes and soul……
Oh, don’t mind me – I am just being fastidious, of course – it must be this constant stream of emails from journalist colleagues, human rights defenders and politicians being harrassed, attacked or worse by Hilary’s friends in the Caucasus and Central Asia…..

Previous post:

Next post: