- By Uri Friedman
Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland.
John Kerry, we’re told, has committed his "first gaffe" as secretary of state. In a slip of the tongue ahead of his overseas trip this week, Kerry appeared to confuse the Central Asian nations of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, blurting out what the Global Post heard as "Kyrzakhstan." Today, news outlets from the U.S. to the U.K. to Russia are ribbing the newly minted State Department chief for inventing a new country.
Here’s the thing — listen to the video closely, and it sounds more like Kerry simply mixed up the "z" and the "g," saying something like "Kyrzygstan." Is that really what qualifies as a gaffe these days? Especially when compared to George W. Bush not knowing the name of Pakistan’s top general, or a U.S. presidential candidate deliberately and dismissively mangling another country’s name? If Kerry’s critics want something to latch onto, they might want to focus on the difficulties he’s having in securing a meeting with Syrian opposition leaders.
Even if Kerry mixed up Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, it’s worth noting that he wouldn’t be alone. West Wing fans may remember that Sam Seaborn stumbled into a similar trap when he tried to impress a newspaper columnist by spouting off about nuclear weapons in Kyrgyzstan. "There are barely pots and pans in Kyrgyzstan," he ruefully observes once the mistake dawns on him (starts at 4:00):
Support solidifies on Syria while American public wary; An odd day at yesterday’s Senate hearing; It’s a game of poker now; al-Qaida forms cells to attack U.S. drones; Rodman to North Korea; and a bit more.Gordon Lubold
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| Situation Report |