How Western diplomacy got devalued
Diplomatic practices of the West got devalued almost irreparably as a
quarter-million diplomatic cables dug up by WikiLeaks exposed their
villainous nature. Conscientious diplomacy gave way to unadulterated
voyeurism, said one analyst.
The leaks depicted many diplomats as Machiavellian creatures seeking
spurious information that undermined the moral fibre of the hallowed art
they vowed to uphold. In several diplomatic dispatches from Paris,
French President Nicolas Sarkozy were caricatured as 'mercurial',
'hyperactive', 'authoritarian', 'erratic' and 'monarch-like.' Someone
was practicing a dubious backroom parlour game.
Worse, the half-wits were at their best embellishing or twisting
things taking cudgels against many Asian nations. Diplomacy preached and
practiced by them never broke new ground in disclosing with clarity or
persuasive flair the complex issues they handled.
Notoriety had devalued the sanctity of the profession and healthy
candour fled through the back door. Most diplomats did not observe,
discover and report accurately but relied on hear say. Trying to enforce
their moth-eaten self-serving strategies had become sacrosanct.
Masters of humbuggery
The rapprochement among countries in Asia, for example, did not
appeal to the West but evoked grumblings and eventual de-stabilizing
attempts. Diplomats had become the masters of humbuggery. Trying to
de-stabilise the Third World became second nature to them.
Sri Lanka's flourishing trade relations with China, Iran and others
seemed an affront to the established orthodoxy of the West. It looked as
if prior approvals were needed for trade to commence.
Even the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee's plea to re-chart US
strategy away from the counter-productive human rights bogey fell on
So it is now-as I write-the general prospect of a Sino-Japanese
rapprochement after decades of hostility is again brushed aside by the
top-notch mindset of Western diplomacy.
They are unable to fathom that the Chinese and Japanese are brokering
their own policy renewals without a central role by the US.
Strangely, that comes amidst a rocky period in the US-Japan
relationship, with fears of a realignment of Japanese interests away
from Washington and towards Beijing-logically acceptable to most Asians.
Among the long list of revelations the WikiLeaks documents showed for
example, collaboration among US, German and Spanish Governments to quash
investigations into torture. The contempt for international law sticks
out like a sour thumb.
Countries leaving the Western fold
The WikiLeaks exposed the daily intrigues of State departments and
their allies. Reciprocity among most Western nations to thwart what they
perceived as 'countries leaving their fold' looked damningly shallow and
WikiLeaks showed that there were secret discussions in the West over
the possibility of war with China and Russia. That took the cake because
the talk of war never appeared in any form. Diplomacy was meant
to-check-discover and report accurately in order to persuade.
Sri Lanka was thought to be obtaining arms from North Korea or Iran.
Both rejected as total fabrications by Sri Lanka. It is a fact that
Government Forces never faced shortages in ammunition and equipment
needed to sustain the terror war offensive.
Authoritative data from Lanka Logistics and Technologies Limited,
which functions under Defence Ministry control, proved that Sri Lanka
procured the required equipment from regular suppliers.
Yet, Sri Lanka's strong bilateral relations with North Korea and Iran
alarmed the West.
The unprecedented 120-day interest free credit facility from Iran to
help Sri Lanka obtain its crude oil supplies annoyed them, more so,
because the oil deal eased pressure on the Treasury in 2008 at the
height of the terror war.
Such WikiLeaks showing speculative assumptions were diplomatic
gaffes. Even high school children would not take them seriously. Another
Western dispatch after the terror war in Sri Lanka said that civilian
deaths were being talked of and they were on the look out.
Double standards beyond the pale
Vague and unsubstantiated accusations were heresies unworthy of the
profession deemed to be based on factual assessments.
Besides the double standards in letting the terrorist Tigers go
unscathed while taking a sovereign state to task was indefensible. That
was beyond the pale.
Where on earth were the thoughtful, well-informed and dedicated
servants wearing diplomatic lapels during the killing sprees of the
Tigers? Tigers could purchase arms from any sources with impunity-but
not Sri Lanka. Their turning a blind eye to Tiger atrocities seemed a
disgraceful diplomatic acquiescence to terror tactics.
They preached Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to Heads of States but
behaved in a callous and deplorable manner dealing with ruthless
As WikiLeaks undermined diplomacy in a jiffy, the contacts the
diplomats relied on started to self-edit. They will go quiet-some would
just fade away, particularly in the more conspiratorial parts of the
world which also tend to be the most unstable, like the Middle East.
Layers of secrecy will be added. We have not heard much in the
torrent of post-Wiki-chatter about those admirable career diplomats
whose diplomacy is now condemned to be more secretive. The conscientious
diplomacy died. What awaits the world is hard to fathom.