Saturday, December 4, 2010

Who Put the Dip in Diplomacy?

Pat Buchanan rails in today's paper about what he terms a "devastating leak of diplomatic documents"... "a diplomatic disaster of the first order"... "this national humiliation and diplomatic Pearl Harbor" -- all referring to the recent WikiLeaks core dump of the State Department's dirty laundry. Well... sorry, Pat, but I really do have to disagree on this one. To begin with... well, I've always thought that the whole "diplomacy" thing was a crock, and a mountain of hypocrisy. And as for the diplomatic corps -- who was it that said it consists of "men with no future and women with no past"? Still true. Someone once said, "Diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggie' while you look for a rock". Also true! And what's more, any diplomat who's not brain-dead (OK, that doesn't mean all of them) pretty much knows what the other side thinks of him and his country... and he knows that his counterparts know what he and his country think of them and their country... and so on ad infinitum. Can anything that the WikiLeaks leak revealed really be considered a surprise? A scandal, maybe... a bit awkward... but a surprise? Of course not. Iran has always known who its enemies are, for example... Karzai knows that we consider him a corrupt pigmy... and so on. I think the people who are the most offended in this matter are the ones who just like to keep secrets... like Hillary Clinton, for example, who has been the very picture of indignation ever since the leaks took place. (Of course, we know that she carries around some scar tissue when it comes to leaks... but let that go for now.) In any case... well, it's kind of like the time the Russians shot down that U-2 spy plane. They knew we were spying on them from high above... we knew they knew it... etc. But having an actual plane, and a live pilot, to parade before the international press, well, that's a bonus. So we did the proper groveling and apologizing, and life returned to normal. And no, we didn't stop spying on the Soviets. And nothing is going to change this time either... in fact, the revelations might actually speed things up a bit at various negotiating tables. It will, for example, save our people the time and effort (and mortification) of having to butter up and brownnose certain foreign leaders. No more "introductory remarks". They can get right down to cases. It would be like starting a football game in the third quarter. Think of the savings! It's kind of like a nude encounter group -- it saves a lot of time that would otherwise be spent speculating and plotting.

And frankly, I'm surprised that Buchanan is spending so much adrenalin on this issue. You'd think he'd be glad that at least some of the corruption and inanity, and insanity, and incompetence, of our foreign policy and of Hillary's State Department had been exposed. But instead he waxes wroth. What precisely does he think has been lost? What disadvantage have we suffered? He admits that this is "an age where diplomatic insults are common". But "what it reveals is that the world's last superpower cannot be trusted with diplomatic confidences or secrets". Maybe so, but how does that stack up against our zeal for "spreading democracy", and our proven habit of attacking any country, or regime, that we see fit at any time? Frankly, I'd rather have the lack of confidentiality and secrecy if it meant that the wheels would come off the American Empire and its war machine. Plus, does he really disapprove of the outing of Hillary's program "to have U.S. diplomats spy on and steal credit card numbers of allied diplomats at the United Nations"? She's managed to avoid incarceration so far... but this could be the turning point!

He's worried that many U.S. diplomats will now "see their usefulness diminished or destroyed". Um... how "useful", exactly, are most of those airheads? We already know that some of the biggest hacks around were sent into Iraq after the invasion to supervise the occupation... er, whatever we called it at the time. And we're still living with the results of their towering incompetence! You'd think we would have sent our most skilled people into that mess, but no... it had to be business as usual, and political payback, and "seniority", and all that typical bureaucratic jive. See, we're not really serious about diplomacy because, ultimately, we don't believe in it. What we believe in is military force and the threat thereof, plain and simple. The rest is all, as I said above, the "nice doggie" stuff, and no one is fooled. If we sit over here bristling with nuclear warheads, ICBMs, cruise missiles, submarines, fighter jets, bombers, and warships... well, who's going to refuse to sit down at a table and talk nice with us? No one but North Korea, I guess, and they're certifiably insane. The world knows that if we get P.O.'d enough, we're going to pay them a little visit, and we don't need the O.K. of any limp-wristed U.N. type. So really, our "diplomacy" is not much different from the protection-racket guy telling his "clients" what demonimation bills he wants to be paid in. But, I suppose, it's a game that some people think must be played -- as dreary as it is. I just don't see why Buchanan insists on defending it -- especially considering the kind of people who are practicing it these days. You'd think he'd be laughing himself silly; I sure am.

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