From soporific to sizzling – What WikiLeaks revealed

Plenty of gossip, some titillation—and also a few surprises - Published on The Economist, Dec. 2, 2010.

… Mostly the new information fleshes out worries and strategies that are already known. It falls broadly into three categories.

One is casting public light on the private behaviour of prominent personalities. An American diplomat who attended a meeting with Britain’s Prince Andrew, on a trade-promotion visit to Kyrgyzstan, was both captivated and appalled by his forceful behaviour and candid language. He railed at anti-corruption investigators for their “idiocy” in almost scuttling the al-Yamama arms deal between Britain and Saudi Arabia. The prince also claimed that France was corrupt and Americans’ command of geography was weak … //  

… The third category, a tendentious one, purports to show other countries’ private thinking. Tantalising glimpses appear of China’s views on North Korea’s collapse (long a taboo subject) and its incorporation into the capitalist South. One official calls the troublesome neighbour a “spoiled child”. Chinese diplomats responded to the leaks by saying that they have long backed peaceful reunification.

It is no surprise that Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries detest and fear Iran. But the cables reveal how they are privately urging America to take speedy military action to block its nuclear plans. King Abdullah, a cable says, urged America to “cut the head off the snake”. And the prime minister of Lebanon was actually in Tehran, on a friendly visit, when he was revealed to have told the Americans that an attack on Iran was “necessary”.

Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, dismissed the leaks as a “worthless” psychological-warfare campaign against his country. Unusually, he did not blame it on a Zionist plot. But Israel and its supporters are proclaiming vindication: their worries about Iran are only what other countries in the region think, but are too shy to say. A website linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, however, highlighted the connections revealed between pro-democracy protesters and American officials.

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange says that his next target is an unnamed, but big, bank. In nervous anticipation, Bank of America’s share price suddenly dipped when he spoke. America’s stock is down, too. (full text).

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