Diplomatic Stupidity

Written By: - Date published: 11:47 am, December 23rd, 2010 - 11 comments
Categories: accountability, Media, political education, spin - Tags: , ,

I find that I’m increasingly bemused by the subjective component of the various diplomatic cables being leaked. What the  hell is it with the US having a bit of a tizzy over the Labour Party screening Fahrenheit 9/11 as a fund raiser? I get that US diplomats serving in Wellington probably aren’t the smartest of the bunch. But really! Contacting the Prime Minister’s office because of a film screening? As the Guardian comments:

Labelling the event a “potential fiasco”, the classified cable from the US embassy in Wellington in 2003 reads like a failed plotline for an episode of In the Loop, breathlessly reporting a series of calls to the New Zealand prime minister’s office and to the minister involved, Marian Hobbs

Then there was the claim that the arrest of Israeli spies trying to procure false passports was nothing to do with arresting people for illegal activities, but a cunning ploy to boost lamb sales to Arab countries. Where do these people get their amazing analytical prowess from? I understand that they operate from a certain ideological perspective, but when everything is viewed in terms of ‘anti Americanism’ (whatever that means) or trade, then the point of their function really has to come into question.

If diplomats are meant to be the eyes and ears of their governments, what does it say for the informed viewpoint of their government when real world events are routinely contorted and squeezed to fit the ideological prerogatives of their government? Misleading the public by spinning a line is one thing, but what’s the point in misleading and spinning yourself?  When I hear of diplomats claiming,  for example, that Cuba banned ‘Sicko’ when in fact it had been shown on state TV, I’m reminded of Mao’s China.

Apparently, officials there reported ideological expectations in the face of contradictory realities, going so far as to transplant rice paddies, thus making it appear that ideology was trumping natural agricultural limitations.

And where does our media sit in this strange battle ground of ideology versus reality that has been unveiled by Wikileaks? Well, by happily failing to separate the objective content of the cables from the extra-ordinary pronouncements of the diplomats, our media is lending credence to the strange disconnected world of ideology, within which, the self referencing diplomatic community and their governments seem to be irredeemably mired.  Ascribing undeserved news worthiness to subjective diplomatic commentary means our media is presenting puerile gossip in lieu of news and failing to inject any notions of accountability into proceedings. And that’s lamentable. But not only are they squandering an opportunity to construct meaningful insights or analyses on the nature of the diplomatic community and gvernment, they are diminishing the potential future  impact of any serious content contained in the cables. And that’s not acceptable.

11 comments on “Diplomatic Stupidity”

  1. Marian Hobbs 1

    Thanks for this thoughtful comment. Wikileaks has really thrown a spotlight on “intelligence-gathering” and how off the mark it can be. I am in the fortunate position of being reported on in some meetings on disarmament, and the American version of events is not mine. No one other than you is treating these American cables as their version of events, and what a strange version they are. As well, it has been more than a little disconcerting to hear NZ diplomats apparently softening what the Minister has said. It’s just as well that I have retired. We should all be grateful to Wikileaks for the style of what they have exposed; the way of working that is so far removed from the people. Enough.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 1.1

      And who would be telling the US of every minor detail about Labour in Wellington Central electorate?

      The fingers point to a virtually ‘Stasi’ like network of informers for the embassy, but my guess that Farrar was the source of this particular tittle tattle. Anything to get free drinks!

      • Bill 1.1.1

        Ghost. Who cares about the US knowing every minutiae of NZ domestic politics? Shouldn’t governance be wholly transparent in a democracy?

        The problem with the more minor diplomatic cables is not what they show to be known by the US, but how diplomats spin those things that they know.

        On more substantial matters, the problem would be any disconnect between what the government is telling us it’s doing and what the government is actually doing.

        On the media front, they should be focussing on the bigger picture of how governments form their world view ( as revealed by even the most insignificant cables) and highlighting just how arbitrary, out of touch with reality, and driven by ideology that world view is.

        The cables, at worst reveal a mind set that pervades government, and at best a mind set that is afforded currency by government. Now, these idiots in government are managing lifes and formulating or justifying policy based (at least in part) on the type of nonsense iterated in the cables.

        That should be a cause for concern, no?

        • Colonial Viper

          Ghost. Who cares about the US knowing every minutiae of NZ domestic politics? Shouldn’t governance be wholly transparent in a democracy?

          Yeah and should be both ways. If the US have deep insight into the workings and discussions of our Govt, then we should have the same into theirs.

          Yeah right.

  2. bbfloyd 2

    and so the downward spiral continues… at least we now know without any doubt that it’s got a right handed thread to it.

    at this rate, in ten years the news will be catering to ten to twelve year old children. and tories of higher intelligence.

  3. RedLogix 3

    Phil Goff’s comments this morning on RNZ are relevant … along the lines that most of the nonsense came from non-professional, non-career seat-warmers like Ambassador Swindells. (Who was a businessman appointed as Ambassador to NZ solely on the basis of some large donations to the Republican Party.)

    • Bill 3.1


      So there is a substantial difference in the cables sent by career diplomats, is there? Are we to believe that they, the ‘real’ diplomats are not inhabiting a world sorely divorced from the real world and not formulating cables informed by ideological imperatives and splattered throughout by their own misplaced sense of importance?

      Not saying that’s not the case, but I haven’t seen any supporting evidence that would indicate such as being the case.

  4. ghostwhowalksnz 4

    And these cables are only ‘State department’.

    The CIA has kept its secrets. Just imagine how much interference they have done in NZ !!

  5. RobertM 5

    To me our diplomats appear even more cynical than the US ones. Pretty boy ‘butch’ Swindels was after all just a donor and probably a party mate of W43. The kiwi diplomats philosophy is the Muldoon doctrine, ‘foreign policy is trade’ and we now have a post office clerk running the foreign affairs trade and are on a wild ride that 20 years of the Muldoon favourites , Grosser and Murdoch have given us.
    Actually we have to believe in something other than milk and lamb sales and maintaining the prosperity of unexciting ordinary people. Possibly our military could do more than show the flag and trail after US carriers on the North Pacific. So scrap the Anzac frigates and by 4 more more capable OPVs.

  6. Drakula 6

    The CIA have interfered with everybody’s business. I think a lot of the wikileaks cables are going to be a bit boring. But there will be a couple of diamonds found.

    But having said that I think that what they have done is heroic.

    Just to put another angle on this Google; Green Left australia and read what Fidal Castro had to say about Julian Assange!!!!!!!!

    “I’m tired of city life
    Summer’s on the run
    People tell me I should stay
    But I’ve got to get my sun
    So don’t try and hold me back
    Aint nothin you can say
    Snake eyes on paradise
    And we got to go today
    So take me to the April sun in Cuba”

    Dragon for Julian

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