Now That's How You Do Diplomatic Criticism

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British Ambassador to Poland Charles Crawford has gotten into a spot of trouble after giving the lash to the European Union's despicable Common Agricultural Policy in a "joke" e-mail that leaked. The CAP, Crawford wrote, is

a programme which uses inefficient transfers of taxpayers money to bloat rich French landowners and so pump up food prices in Europe, thereby creating poverty in Africa, which we then fail to solve through inefficient but expensive aid programmes. The most stupid, immoral state-subsidised policy in human history, give or take Communism.

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  1. … in a “joke” e-mail that leaked.

    Congratulations Matt, that is the most fitting use of, the much overused, non-quote quotation marks since Charles Foster Kane married a “singer”.

  2. spot on, lads…cheerio. Who says the brits aren’t funny?

  3. Ambassador Crawford sounds like a perceptive and honest fellow. Of course, it is gauche in Eurabia to speak disparagingly of Bolsheviks. After all, they have so bloody much in common with Islamofascists…

  4. Joke? Sounded like a fair and accurate description to me.

  5. Ironic isn’t it that diplomats are often the ones speaking least diplomatically? My guess is that they get their jobs in the first place for making big monetary contributions to the party, therefore they feel entitled to speak up.

  6. Give that man a promotion to Ambassador Extraordinaire.

  7. Now somebody should get the guts to say the same truth about the parasites (a.k.a. farmers) in our Mid-West, living off farm subsidies paid for with my taxes. Those farm subsidies are the REAL welfare, yet how many politicians have the guts to say it?

    Axel Kassel, stop hibernating and wake up. The bolsheviks disappeared in the early ’30s. The official communists followed in ’91. Start catching up on your right-wing terminology, dude 🙂

  8. But if it weren’t for farm subsidies, the French countryside would transform from farmland to woodland! Oh, the horror.

  9. If French farms were converted to forest, could they blame Kyoto?

  10. Yuri: some people just can’t let go.

    Actually, I think the good ambassador has summed it up nicely. The African countries are now in the peculiar position of trying to get the Western world to adopt free-market reforms. Reason had a nice article recently about how the US casually shatters otherwise stable markets in Third World countries every time there’s a bumper crop by giving away “free” grain paid for by the US taxpayer as a price support program at home.

    This is, of course, precisely what the US accuses the Japanese of doing with electronics: whenever they overproduce, they sell at a discount in secondary markets to recoup some of their losses. The US calls it “dumping” and files a complaint with the WTO. But when the US does it with corn, it’s called “aid.” The local farmers are ruined, and the “aid” promptly disappears when market conditions change in the US.

  11. Matt Welch,

    While the CAP is lame, European agricultural subsidies hardly on benefit the French. When the British start demanding that their monarch stop getting agricultural subsidies I’ll know they are serious and that their criticism is something more than mere national chauvanism.

    Number 6,

    Sounded like someone who shouldn’t throw rocks in glass houses to me.

  12. …hardly only…

  13. Then again, Charles Crawford ought to realize that the Poles are fairly heavily into agricultural subsidies to protect the large number of farmers in Poland who wouldn’t be farmers without them.

  14. Didn’t the former British Ambassador to Washington also write an unflattering, tell-all book about the run-up to the Iraq War? Seems that the UK Diplomatic service is a lot less lackey prone than America’s. Or, at least, they’re more wittier what with the British sense of humour and all that.

  15. Hak, if I was cutting off subsidies, I’d start with subsidies to OTHER countries first.

    That quote was worth a big smile, thanks Matt.

  16. The “give or take communism” line was priceless. Buy that man a drink.

  17. While the CAP is lame, European agricultural subsidies hardly on benefit the French.

    Maybe, but the CAP itself is primarily French. Check out this article from The Economist.

  18. While the CAP is lame, European agricultural subsidies hardly on benefit the French.

    Maybe, but the CAP itself is primarily French. Check out this article from The Economist:

    http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=5278374

  19. A politician who tells the truth – amazing.

    He should be running for Prime Minister.

  20. Cue a series of articles by European writers that “hyperliberal” right-wing politics has spread from America and is threatening fair Europe…

  21. The “give or take communism” line was priceless. Buy that man a drink.

    Hear, hear! Understated brilliantly.

  22. Like how my highschool econ “teacher” would talk about how FDR saved the farmers by destroying part of the crops to bolster prices. Then in the same breath would talk about our compassionate giving of food to third worlders.

  23. Like how my highschool econ “teacher” would talk about how FDR saved the farmers by destroying part of the crops to bolster prices. Then in the same breath would talk about our compassionate giving of food to third worlders.

    Did teach creationism at that school too?

  24. Like how my highschool econ “teacher” would talk about how FDR saved the farmers by destroying part of the crops to bolster prices. Then in the same breath would talk about our compassionate giving of food to third worlders.

    Did they teach creationism at that school too?

  25. “WHOOPS – did I ACCIDENTALLY LEAK that? Don’t LET IT INFLUENCE YOU. And by the way, DANCE, PLUMBER BOY.”

  26. Where’s the ‘joke’ in that email?

  27. MP,

    The CAP – in one way or another – benefits numerous European countries, which is why zeroing in on France is so bizarre. The CAP is part of the horsetrading they do in the E.U., part of the merry-go-round of a quid pro quo system that the E.U. functions under.

  28. The most stupid, immoral state-subsidised policy in human history, give or take Communism.

    Raather! Charles Crawford for P.M.!

  29. And exactly how much of the CAP goes to Polish farmers?

    Thought so.

  30. Sandy,

    Given that the ambassador considers the Poles “rude and ungrateful” for not backing Blair’s “reforms,” what do you think?

  31. “Ironic isn’t it that diplomats are often the ones speaking least diplomatically? My guess is that they get their jobs in the first place for making big monetary contributions to the party, therefore they feel entitled to speak up.”

    Actually, British diplomats are all career professionals. US diplomats are donors to the party in power who buy their embassies on the open market. Key difference.
    Interestingly, the US has yet to extend this policy to, say, the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

  32. I think they don’t get much:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4407792.stm#where

    Together, it and 17 other countries get 18% of the CAP. France gets a disproportionate share despite having an economy nearly 400% bigger but only 50% more people to share the wealth.

    Poland will support France because their farmers are nearly as powerful as France’s and make French farmers look efficient, due to historical reasons dating from the Partitions. So any payout beats none and is perceived as vital for the stability of any government who doesn’t wish to have suddenly disposessed people voting them out.

    That doesn’t mean they still don’t get a raw deal, or that France isn’t the main beneficiary of the CAP, even under the new rules.

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