Sunday 16 May 2021 | 06:54 | SYDNEY
Sunday 16 May 2021 | 06:54 | SYDNEY

Diplomatic faux pas throughout history, part trois


Sam Roggeveen


21 February 2008 12:31

From reader Paul Monk:

My own favourite is from Henry Kissinger's first visit to China, in 1971, when he met Zhou Enlai and said, somewhat unctuously, 'Dr Zhou, it is a great pleasure finally to be able to visit your mysterious country.' The urbane Zhou Enlai responded, it is said, in fluent English, 'Dr Kissinger, there is nothing especially mysterious about China, once you know a little bit about it.'
I'm not sure whether it counts as a faux pas, but another Kissinger story appeals to my sense of humour. It was his first visit to Israel, as Nixon's National Security Adviser, in 1969. He met Golda Meir, then still Prime Minister of Israel, and felt it necessary to remind her that just because he was Jewish he could not be manipulated by the Israelis. He told her, 'Mrs Meir, I think I should point out to you that I am an American first, a diplomat second and a Jew only third.' She replied, 'That's all right, sonny; we read from right to left.'

Here are parts un and deux in the series. Keep 'em coming.