Friday, December 03, 2010

In search of America's diplomatic conscience

I haven't seen much news yet in the WikiLeaks cables regarding the Balkans. Discussions about how to make Kosovo independent are about tactics. The preceding strategy discussion is more important and until now lacking in the diplomatic mail.

In one of the articles I read about the Wikileaks an old diplomat complained that about the low quality of the communication. In his days it was on a much higher intellectual level. This may be nostalgia of a retired old man but I share the feeling. Every politician has its quirks. But in the days of the Cold War there was more of a feeling that you had to work out things together. Nowadays US international politicy is made in isolated "think tanks" in Washington with often a strong input of lobbyists and diplomats have been reduced to pawns who have to impose it on the foreign politicians. In their frustration they resort to calling those politicians names.

Some of the things I would like to see are:
- anything about human rights. My feeling is that they only serve as an excuse to criticize but that no one really cares.
- any discussion about Kosovo's independence declaration. It would have been a good working strategy if - before making the decision - the US had asked its diplomats to give their vision on whether it was the best strategy and how it would work out.
- anything about the 1995. With their support of Operation Flash and Storm in Croatia the US had embraced a policy of ethnic cleansing. It would be interesting to see how that was seen in the diplomatic corps.
- anything about the period 1990-1992 when Yugoslavia started to fall apart - for which the West bears much guilt.

1 comment:

Gerard Gallucci said...

Wim. I can tell you for sure - as a former if not yet "old" US diplomat - that the reporting revealed in these cables has become gossipy and snide. To understand the other side, you need to take them seriously and listen carefully. The tone of many of these cables suggests no real effort to do this. Conveying the reality as seen by the other side is a core element of diplomacy. Maybe these leaks will lead to a return to more sober and serious reporting. Maybe.