Wikileaks: Diplomacy vs. Policy

Having skimmed a few more write-ups of the Wikileaks diplomatic cables release, I have to sign on with the consensus that the revelations offer a very reassuring inside view on American diplomacy. (Sam Roggeveen here, Andrew Sullivan here, and Fred Kaplan here. Update: And the EU Observer, citing European diplomats, here.)

For his part, Art Goldhammer is underwhelmed by this Le Monde summary of the dispatches sent by the U.S. Embassy in Paris regarding French President Nicolas Sarkozy, from both before and after his election to the presidency. Goldhammer rightly states that the account reveals relatively little that any close observer of French politics wouldn't already know. And yes, the cables do track pretty closely with my own analysis of Sarkozy's foreign policy and posture toward the U.S. For Goldhammer, that's a sign of the limits of U.S. diplomacy. I'd argue the contrary, especially when you correlate the assessments with the dates at which they were made, and would be far more alarmed if the U.S. Embassy in Paris diverged dramatically from Goldhammer's analysis and my own.

What's most striking, though, as Kaplan underlines, is that at a time when it's become cliché to talk about America's decline, U.S. diplomacy has proven itself to be pretty skilled at its primary tasks: developing the relationships necessary for keeping Washington well-informed and well-advised, and for effectively carrying out the policy directives Washington uses that information and advice to formulate.

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