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(Foreign Policy)   For US diplomats, "Speak softly and carry a big stick" has turned to "Speak loudly and flail around with the stick like a blindfolded drunk going after a piñata"   (foreignpolicy.com ) divider line
    More: Fail, United States, Machiavelli, United Nations Security Council, diplomats, Commerce Secretary, rational actor  
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2175 clicks; posted to Politics » on 03 May 2013 at 1:27 PM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-05-03 12:12:15 PM  
Aand you linked to page 2 of the article.
 
2013-05-03 12:25:08 PM  
I know 14 years olds that can come up with better drivel than this.
 
2013-05-03 12:53:21 PM  
Why aren't we attacking more people?
 
2013-05-03 01:01:49 PM  

James!: Why aren't we attacking more people?


To be fair to the author, he specifically says he's not advocating that. Still, saying that we don't use our big stick against North Korea or Iran just because we don't invade them is kind of silly, crippling economic sanctions may not be a cruise missile, but they aren't kid gloves either.
 
2013-05-03 01:03:36 PM  

nmrsnr: James!: Why aren't we attacking more people?

To be fair to the author, he specifically says he's not advocating that. Still, saying that we don't use our big stick against North Korea or Iran just because we don't invade them is kind of silly, crippling economic sanctions may not be a cruise missile, but they aren't kid gloves either.


Our stick got so big it can wipe out entire nations.  We're better off keeping it restrained.
 
2013-05-03 01:03:40 PM  
The problem is that the rhetoric is increasingly targeted towards a domestic audience as opposed to the nations with which we want to communicate.

Pew, pew, pew! 'Murica!!
 
2013-05-03 01:21:04 PM  
If Obama had simply shut up and never talked about red lines and game changers everything would be alright. But no, he had to go and act with bluster and pretend that America would not tolerate it and would be really serious about it and this shiat won't fly, son. And now that, woops, turns out that this line has been crossed, the game has been changed, he really doesn't want to follow through.

I can't believe you still have politicians who don't realize that if you're going to make threats, you've got to back them up.
 
2013-05-03 01:24:14 PM  

Tatsuma: If Obama had simply shut up and never talked about red lines and game changers everything would be alright. But no, he had to go and act with bluster and pretend that America would not tolerate it and would be really serious about it and this shiat won't fly, son. And now that, woops, turns out that this line has been crossed, the game has been changed, he really doesn't want to follow through.

I can't believe you still have politicians who don't realize that if you're going to make threats, you've got to back them up.


I thought we just couldn't wait for the smoking gun to come in the shape of a mushroom cloud...
 
2013-05-03 01:35:40 PM  
don't big stick shame please
 
2013-05-03 01:36:41 PM  

Tatsuma: If Obama had simply shut up and never talked about red lines and game changers everything would be alright. But no, he had to go and act with bluster and pretend that America would not tolerate it and would be really serious about it and this shiat won't fly, son. And now that, woops, turns out that this line has been crossed, the game has been changed, he really doesn't want to follow through.

I can't believe you still have politicians who don't realize that if you're going to make threats, you've got to back them up.


And if Obama had simply shut up then he would have been attacked for doing nothing while muslim extremists killed people.

A lose-lose situation. One which the rest of the world sees as a superpower collectively losing their mind and becoming increasingly dangerous to not only themselves but the people around them. And they will remember, and bear this in mind for future dealings.
 
2013-05-03 01:39:29 PM  

Discordulator: And if Obama had simply shut up then he would have been attacked for doing nothing while muslim extremists killed people.


No, most Americans are saying 'fark it, we shouldn't do anything about Syria' on both sides of the aisle. And even if he's going to be attacked anyway, no reason to say that he's going to do something that most Americans don't want and then not go through it with.

That's just farking stupid.
 
2013-05-03 01:41:52 PM  
Murder, murder, murder. The US will die if we don't destroy everyone else first. First the Arabs, then the Asians, then the Blacks, Hispanics, Slavs, Anglos, and finally the Canuks. We will never be safe until every living being is dead.
 
2013-05-03 01:42:33 PM  
Did I miss it, or were there any quotes from, you know, actual diplomats in the story? While the President may count, he's also the domestic leader, and as far as I could skim, all the rest of the quotes were from people in similar domestic roles.
 
2013-05-03 01:43:03 PM  
The State Department has been derided as the home of commies for 40 years.  Makes it hard for them to do their jobs.
 
2013-05-03 01:43:08 PM  

Tatsuma: If Obama had simply shut up and never talked about red lines and game changers everything would be alright. But no, he had to go and act with bluster and pretend that America would not tolerate it and would be really serious about it and this shiat won't fly, son. And now that, woops, turns out that this line has been crossed, the game has been changed, he really doesn't want to follow through.

I can't believe you still have politicians who don't realize that if you're going to make threats, you've got to back them up.


like when Bush said he would get bin Laden and then said he wasn't worried about where he was?
 
2013-05-03 01:45:59 PM  

Tatsuma: Discordulator: And if Obama had simply shut up then he would have been attacked for doing nothing while muslim extremists killed people.

No, most Americans are saying 'fark it, we shouldn't do anything about Syria' on both sides of the aisle. And even if he's going to be attacked anyway, no reason to say that he's going to do something that most Americans don't want and then not go through it with.

That's just farking stupid.


Isn't part of the current 'wait' in making sure we know A) How the weapons were used and B) Who used them?

Target verification is pretty important, after all. Otherwise, if one isn't doing due diligence, isn't properly verifying targets, and is instead acting recklessly, things like attacking and destroying the assets of allies can occur...
 
2013-05-03 01:48:03 PM  

Felgraf: Tatsuma: Discordulator: And if Obama had simply shut up then he would have been attacked for doing nothing while muslim extremists killed people.

No, most Americans are saying 'fark it, we shouldn't do anything about Syria' on both sides of the aisle. And even if he's going to be attacked anyway, no reason to say that he's going to do something that most Americans don't want and then not go through it with.

That's just farking stupid.

Isn't part of the current 'wait' in making sure we know A) How the weapons were used and B) Who used them?

Target verification is pretty important, after all. Otherwise, if one isn't doing due diligence, isn't properly verifying targets, and is instead acting recklessly, things like attacking and destroying the assets of allies can occur...


i see what you did there
 
2013-05-03 01:48:05 PM  
Is that anything like when "SHOCK AND AWE" became "AAAH, SHUCKS..." ?
 
2013-05-03 01:49:36 PM  

Tatsuma: Discordulator: And if Obama had simply shut up then he would have been attacked for doing nothing while muslim extremists killed people.

No, most Americans are saying 'fark it, we shouldn't do anything about Syria' on both sides of the aisle. And even if he's going to be attacked anyway, no reason to say that he's going to do something that most Americans don't want and then not go through it with.

That's just farking stupid.


Obama wouldn't have gotten blasted for ignoring Syria?

Maybe you need to hop in the wayback machine and take a look at the time just before and just after we got involved in Libya.  You know, where you'd have people saying on Monday that Obama should do x, y, and z - and then super pissed on Wednesday because doing x, y, and z showed how much of a tyrant he was.
 
2013-05-03 01:51:03 PM  

Felgraf: Tatsuma: Discordulator: And if Obama had simply shut up then he would have been attacked for doing nothing while muslim extremists killed people.

No, most Americans are saying 'fark it, we shouldn't do anything about Syria' on both sides of the aisle. And even if he's going to be attacked anyway, no reason to say that he's going to do something that most Americans don't want and then not go through it with.

That's just farking stupid.

Isn't part of the current 'wait' in making sure we know A) How the weapons were used and B) Who used them?

Target verification is pretty important, after all. Otherwise, if one isn't doing due diligence, isn't properly verifying targets, and is instead acting recklessly, things like attacking and destroying the assets of allies can occur..


That's sissy talk. Someone in Syria probably used chemical weapons. Obama should get liquored up good and proper and kick everyone in the country's ass. Anything else makes us look weak.
 
2013-05-03 01:53:17 PM  

Tatsuma: If Obama had simply shut up and never talked about red lines and game changers everything would be alright. But no, he had to go and act with bluster and pretend that America would not tolerate it and would be really serious about it and this shiat won't fly, son. And now that, woops, turns out that this line has been crossed, the game has been changed, he really doesn't want to follow through.


You do realize that eleven of the fourteen quotes in the article were  notspoken by Obama, right?
 
2013-05-03 01:55:57 PM  
Both Iran and North Korea are showing the world that, for all its bluster, the United States is unwilling to back up its words with actions. The problem being, as the article points out, that we shouldn't be using such words in the first place.

We've taken it upon ourselves to become the moral axis of the world, proclaiming the actions of other countries good or bad (mostly on the basis of whether they are allies or not) and then setting up a game of diplomatic chicken with empty ultimatums.

Axis of Evil, with us or against us, red line. It's all polarizing language that leaves no room for compromise. If we were willing to dive in and enforce the principles behind those words, they wouldn't be just empty rhetoric. However, by pretending to have a stance and then failing to back it up with force just makes us less trustworthy in the long run.

Which is not to say we should be diving in every time we make an ultimatum. That is certainly not in the interest of the country. Rather, the language that we use should be carefully measured to give ourselves wiggle room to distance ourselves from obligation.
 
2013-05-03 01:56:13 PM  

Karac: Obama wouldn't have gotten blasted for ignoring Syria?


An overwhelming majority of Americans don't want the US government to get embroiled in Syria. He could have given the usual platitudes without blustering about red lines and unacceptable game-changers.

It's not either 'Ignore it completely' or 'Declare war right farking now'

You guys really missed the point about nuance in the farking article.
 
2013-05-03 02:05:36 PM  
Well, the most plausible scenario is that Obama *IS* using diplomatic channels right now. He's coming up with a way to get Britain, France, Russia and China to support a United Nations resolution against Syria. Once we have that, Syria is toast.

And if that fails, he'll fall back on our NATO allies to get some support for military action against Syria.

And if that fails, well, I just hope he doesn't go into Syria with as little international support as Dubya did into Iraq (thanks Britain).

/and Poland
 
2013-05-03 02:09:28 PM  
For those unsure, if we move on Syria, it will be a carbon copy of we acted with Libya.

I'm a bit surprised that people think otherwise. There's zero chance of us doing anything unless the whole region is behind us on it.
 
2013-05-03 02:09:38 PM  
Somewhere along the line, this seems to have changed. Today, many of our senior-most diplomats (and I include the president in that general category) seem to substitute shrillness for suavity, hectoring intransigence for erudition, and prissy pomposity for persuasion.

The examples are too numerous to cite, but take that peculiarly popular word "unacceptable"

 So a quick google search later:

Ford At News Conference .Oil Price Hike 'unacceptable' .
Lodi News-Sentinel - Jun 26, 1975

Us Rejects Unacceptable Korean Note .
Gettysburg Times - Aug 23, 1976
WASHINGTON - The State Department has rejected a North Korean statement on the deaths of two American officers

 Carter: Deregulation Flatly Unacceptable .
Telegraph-Herald - Sep 27, 1977
WASHINGTON - Ending federal price controls on natural gas is "flatly unacceptable"

Some Iran Demands Unacceptable To Carter .
Pittsburgh Press - Nov 6, 1980


Hostage Trials Unacceptable, Baker Says .
Spokesman-Review - Nov 19, 1979
AUSTIN, Texas - Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker said Sunday that a trial of Americans held captive in Iran is "totally unacceptable"

Soviets Make 'unacceptable' Arms Proposal .
Lakeland Ledger - Aug 1, 1982
Administration officials called the Soviet proposal unacceptable

Nicaragua Behavior Called Unacceptable .
Tuscaloosa News - Jan 13, 1984
WASHINGTON The Re- agan administration is blaming unacceptable" Nicaraguan behavior for the slaying of a US Army pilot
 
2013-05-03 02:16:32 PM  

Tatsuma: Karac: Obama wouldn't have gotten blasted for ignoring Syria?

An overwhelming majority of Americans don't want the US government to get embroiled in Syria. He could have given the usual platitudes without blustering about red lines and unacceptable game-changers.

It's not either 'Ignore it completely' or 'Declare war right farking now'

You guys really missed the point about nuance in the farking article.


You really missed everything I said after that question mark.  And the last 5 years of 'if he's fer it, then I'm agin' it' approach to government by some parties.
 
2013-05-03 02:17:06 PM  
So our diplomats are just like our tourists, then?
 
2013-05-03 02:17:39 PM  

Felgraf: Tatsuma: Discordulator: And if Obama had simply shut up then he would have been attacked for doing nothing while muslim extremists killed people.

No, most Americans are saying 'fark it, we shouldn't do anything about Syria' on both sides of the aisle. And even if he's going to be attacked anyway, no reason to say that he's going to do something that most Americans don't want and then not go through it with.

That's just farking stupid.

Isn't part of the current 'wait' in making sure we know A) How the weapons were used and B) Who used them?

Target verification is pretty important, after all. Otherwise, if one isn't doing due diligence, isn't properly verifying targets, and is instead acting recklessly, things like attacking and destroying the assets of allies can occur...


I'd settle for at least having the reports verified by someone who's not a self-admitted screwball.
 
2013-05-03 02:19:16 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: I know 14 years olds that can come up with better drivel than this.


Yep. that was one of the less insightful reviews of our foreign policy I have seen.

Whether it is two weeks from now or six-month from now, if the US government decides to intervene in Syria... we will use the evidence of chemical weapons as a reason (plus anything else that may turn up). Even if our intervention only consists of increased military aid, it will very likely be connected to the chemical weapons report. Just because you draw one of these lines, it doesn't mean that the response has to be immediate or brutal (unless you actually said that is what would happen). Like it or not, a gradual response is often how diplomacy works.

If this author wanted to look at bad US diplomacy, he should use better cases. One of my recent favorite ones: Before Evo Morales was elected president in Bolivia (something that America considered against its best interests)... our ambassador publicly intervened in their election by making a statement to their press that foreign aid and relations with america would suffer if they elected Evo. The result was that he went from being a long shot to winning second place in that election. Apparently the ambassador didn't know that brown people hate to be told who they should vote for by the US ambassador. Evo went on to win the next election and became president. This week, he kicked out USAID from Bolivia (goes to show how much he cared about the foreign aid when he perceives it as a tool to undermine him). This was particularly dumb, because a similar thing happened in Chile before Allende won and apparently an ambassador assigned to a neighboring country did not bother to learn history. THAT is poor diplomacy. That is a concrete rookie mistake that directly contributed to the opposite of what we wanted to happen. (If Syria did use chemical weapons, they didn't use them because we told them not to... that was incidental).

There are many other examples of this exact same rookie mistakes because a lot of our diplomats meet the criteria to be characterized as ugly Americans. Mostly the uglier ones are not career diplomats but appointees. Although I have seen some really dumb career diplomats out there.
 .
 
2013-05-03 02:29:10 PM  
www.greatplanes.com
 
2013-05-03 02:29:47 PM  
a248.e.akamai.net
 
2013-05-03 02:35:53 PM  

Tatsuma: If Obama had simply shut up and never talked about red lines and game changers everything would be alright. But no, he had to go and act with bluster and pretend that America would not tolerate it and would be really serious about it and this shiat won't fly, son. And now that, woops, turns out that this line has been crossed, the game has been changed, he really doesn't want to follow through.

I can't believe you still have politicians who don't realize that if you're going to make threats, you've got to back them up.


It's a little soon to say he hasn't done something. No one moves that fast.
 
2013-05-03 02:36:28 PM  

Infernalist: For those unsure, if we move on Syria, it will be a carbon copy of we acted with Libya.

I'm a bit surprised that people think otherwise. There's zero chance of us doing anything unless the whole region is behind us on it.


Probably this.
 
vpb [TotalFark]
2013-05-03 02:37:03 PM  
Tatsuma:
No, most Americans are saying 'fark it, we shouldn't do anything about Syria' on both sides of the aisle. And even if he's going to be attacked anyway, no reason to say that he's going to do something that most Americans don't want and then not go through it with.

That's just farking stupid.


No, he can get serious and refer it to the UN security council.
 
2013-05-03 02:38:42 PM  

American politics is a rude, highfalutin, finger-pointing game.

Just look at the Fark POLITICS TAB discussion comments.

We get the government we deserve... of the people and by the people.

 
2013-05-03 02:40:24 PM  

thurstonxhowell: That's sissy talk. Someone in Syria probably used chemical weapons. Obama should get liquored up good and proper and kick everyone in the country's ass. Anything else makes us look weak.


Oh, they PROBABLY did it?  That's good enough for me, let's invade!
 
2013-05-03 02:41:44 PM  
Wow, I agree with Tatsuma on this one.

Nobody in the United States, either in the Obama administration or outside it, has the stomach for another war in the Middle East.  Don't make threats with your mouth that your ass can't cash.
 
2013-05-03 02:42:35 PM  

Lost Thought 00: Murder, murder, murder. The US will die if we don't destroy everyone else first. First the Arabs, then the Asians, then the Blacks, Hispanics, Slavs, Anglos, and finally the Canuks. We will never be safe until every living being is dead.


"And then all you've got left is a couple of brain-dead rednecks, and that's no fun now, is it?"
 
2013-05-03 02:43:33 PM  
The problem goes back further than this author will admit (disclaimer, didn't read entire thing).  We've assumed that we can simply impose our will anywhere in the world since 1945, and we've propped up genocidal monsters whenever and wherever it suited us.  And genuinely believed that this was the "right thing to do," because by definition, what America does is "the right thing to do."  Now a good bit of the world is either under the jackboot of one of our pets, or it has thrown off the pet and the people loathe us as the people who imposed the monsters on us.

The two best examples are Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein.  We created both of them, propped them up and kept them in power, then one day we discovered ZOMG these are very bad men--and we want to assure you, it has nothing to do with the fact that they stopped playing The Game the way we wanted them to, it was because truly they were very, very bad men to their own people, truly, and for strictly humanitarian, America-is-best reasons, we had to take them out.  Why, Noriega was involved in--can you believe this--drug dealing!--Noriega!--the man we trusted!--tainted by drug money!(Clutch pearls and call for smelling salts.)

Now we face a world where there are too many fires burning at once, and meanwhile our patriotic Republican party will do literally anything to discredit and drive any Democrat from the White House.  So they bang the war drums, and yes, sadly, too many on the left, like Clinton, bang the war drums too, to stay in The Game (I'll never forgive her for pushing the Iraq Murder Party).

But this crap didn't begin post 9/11.  Rather, 9/11 was the first time that it dawned on the rank and file that yes, the chickens have flapped home to roost, and the politicans discovered that the drunkenly-swinging-at-a-pinata trick works every time out in the sticks.
 
2013-05-03 02:46:22 PM  

Tatsuma: Discordulator: And if Obama had simply shut up then he would have been attacked for doing nothing while muslim extremists killed people.

No, most Americans are saying 'fark it, we shouldn't do anything about Syria' on both sides of the aisle. And even if he's going to be attacked anyway, no reason to say that he's going to do something that most Americans don't want and then not go through it with.

That's just farking stupid.


This.  Completely agree.  I'd rate Obama a little above average in foreign policy, but his handling of Syria has been baffling, like watching a single guy trying to take care of an infant or something.
 
2013-05-03 02:46:40 PM  
Queue the Star Wars Kid .gif
 
2013-05-03 02:48:52 PM  

Kibbler: The problem goes back further than this author will admit (disclaimer, didn't read entire thing).  We've assumed that we can simply impose our will anywhere in the world since 1945, and we've propped up genocidal monsters whenever and wherever it suited us.  And genuinely believed that this was the "right thing to do," because by definition, what America does is "the right thing to do."  Now a good bit of the world is either under the jackboot of one of our pets, or it has thrown off the pet and the people loathe us as the people who imposed the monsters on us.

The two best examples are Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein.  We created both of them, propped them up and kept them in power, then one day we discovered ZOMG these are very bad men--and we want to assure you, it has nothing to do with the fact that they stopped playing The Game the way we wanted them to, it was because truly they were very, very bad men to their own people, truly, and for strictly humanitarian, America-is-best reasons, we had to take them out.  Why, Noriega was involved in--can you believe this--drug dealing!--Noriega!--the man we trusted!--tainted by drug money!(Clutch pearls and call for smelling salts.)

Now we face a world where there are too many fires burning at once, and meanwhile our patriotic Republican party will do literally anything to discredit and drive any Democrat from the White House.  So they bang the war drums, and yes, sadly, too many on the left, like Clinton, bang the war drums too, to stay in The Game (I'll never forgive her for pushing the Iraq Murder Party).

But this crap didn't begin post 9/11.  Rather, 9/11 was the first time that it dawned on the rank and file that yes, the chickens have flapped home to roost, and the politicans discovered that the drunkenly-swinging-at-a-pinata trick works every time out in the sticks.


I'll never forgive Nixon for invading Vietnam.

/Fighting the incoherence arms race.
 
2013-05-03 02:51:51 PM  

Tatsuma: If Obama had simply shut up and never talked about red lines and game changers everything would be alright. But no, he had to go and act with bluster and pretend that America would not tolerate it and would be really serious about it and this shiat won't fly, son. And now that, woops, turns out that this line has been crossed, the game has been changed, he really doesn't want to follow through.

I can't believe you still have politicians who don't realize that if you're going to make threats, you've got to back them up.


Well it's easier to do when you're making threats with someone else's army...
 
2013-05-03 02:51:56 PM  

Kuta: Well, the most plausible scenario is that Obama *IS* using diplomatic channels right now. He's coming up with a way to get Britain, France, Russia and China to support a United Nations resolution against Syria. Once we have that, Syria is toast.



Why?  Not trolling, just curious as to your assessment of the impact of a UN Resolution against Syria.
 
2013-05-03 02:53:13 PM  

FLMountainMan: Tatsuma: Discordulator: And if Obama had simply shut up then he would have been attacked for doing nothing while muslim extremists killed people.

No, most Americans are saying 'fark it, we shouldn't do anything about Syria' on both sides of the aisle. And even if he's going to be attacked anyway, no reason to say that he's going to do something that most Americans don't want and then not go through it with.

That's just farking stupid.

This.  Completely agree.  I'd rate Obama a little above average in foreign policy, but his handling of Syria has been baffling, like watching a single guy trying to take care of an infant or something.


I'm sure that someone taking their time, getting evidence and weighing options IS a very confusing thing for you. I agree with you, we should invade Iraq.
 
2013-05-03 02:57:46 PM  
Walk softly and carry a big stick only works when people fear your big stick.  While most of the world doesn't want to draw the ire of the United States, they know that most of our military is tied down, and the American public does not have the stomach for another protracted war.

We showed how weak our military leadership was/is when we couldn't get Bin Laden coontil much later) and we couldn't control Iraq or Afghanistan.
 
2013-05-03 03:02:04 PM  

Dubya's_Coke_Dealer: FLMountainMan: Tatsuma: Discordulator: And if Obama had simply shut up then he would have been attacked for doing nothing while muslim extremists killed people.

No, most Americans are saying 'fark it, we shouldn't do anything about Syria' on both sides of the aisle. And even if he's going to be attacked anyway, no reason to say that he's going to do something that most Americans don't want and then not go through it with.

That's just farking stupid.

This.  Completely agree.  I'd rate Obama a little above average in foreign policy, but his handling of Syria has been baffling, like watching a single guy trying to take care of an infant or something.

I'm sure that someone taking their time, getting evidence and weighing options IS a very confusing thing for you. I agree with you, we should invade Iraq.


WTF are you babbling about?  I didn't think we should have invaded Iraq and I damn sure don't think we should invade Syria.  And I've said that in every fark thread on Syria I've seen.  And no, I wouldn't expect you to keep up with my posting history, unless you try to imply that you know my views on a subject.
 
2013-05-03 03:04:54 PM  

FLMountainMan: Kuta: Well, the most plausible scenario is that Obama *IS* using diplomatic channels right now. He's coming up with a way to get Britain, France, Russia and China to support a United Nations resolution against Syria. Once we have that, Syria is toast.


Why?  Not trolling, just curious as to your assessment of the impact of a UN Resolution against Syria.


Because then we can easily get other nations to help us and Russia can't get pissed since they agreed. They would be pretty pissed if we went in right now. Especially unilaterally.

Anybody see Lindsey Graham talking about how upset he is with Obama's handling of the situation. He's saying that we could create a no fly zone without putting any of our troops in harm's way. All we have to do is use drones and set up a bunch of Patriot batteries.

No, seriously, he actually said that.
 
2013-05-03 03:06:19 PM  
You know, the world was full of sophisticated and suave diplomats a century ago.  Granted, they did start World War I, but they were very urbane about it.
 
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