Whenever European leaders want to justify the drive for ever-closer union in foreign policy, they quote Henry Kissinger’s famous remark – “Who do I call if I want to speak to Europe?”. The comment is meant to epitomise Europe’s failure to get its act together on the world stage. The hope in Brussels is that if the Lisbon Treaty goes through, the Americans will finally get that single number to dial; it will be the new EU foreign secretary for Hillary Clinton, and new EU president for Obama.

The Kissinger “who do I call” remark was trotted out at almost every seminar I ever went to Brussels. So I’m delighted to add it to the list of “famous sayings that were never said”.

Reginald Dale of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington (and before that of The Financial Times) has written to me to say: “Kissinger never made the famous remark about Europe’s telephone number. According to the late Peter Rodman, who knew him well, the saying is apocryphal, and in fact Kissinger’s concern was the precise opposite – he was fed up with having to deal with a Dane whom he regarded as incompetent and ineffective, who was trying to represent the whole of the EU as President of the Council. Kissinger himself has disowned the remark, and it seems that he was actually seeking to divide and rule in Europe, rather than be restricted to a single voice on the telephone.”

Any more myths need puncturing?

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