American Proscenium


The diversity and overall quality of U.S. diplomatic documents released by WikiLeaks on November 28 is breathtaking.  A quarter-million confidential communications between 274 missions and the State Department will eventually be released—16,000 of them marked “Secret”; 100,000, “Confidential.”  The trove’s 261 million words exceed the entire Foreign Relations series, packed with almost two centuries of American foreign-policymaking.  It makes an aficionado feel like a 12-year-old with a million-dollar Best Buy gift card.

A sampling of the raw material available on (avoid the New York Times-edited derivatives) indicates an impressive level of professional competence and talent in U.S. outposts around the world.  Some reports, notably on Pakistan and the Far East, could have come from the pages of Chronicles.  There are also quality cables from Russia, the Middle East, and Western Europe.  The description of the president of Chechnya attending a Dagestani wedding and dancing clumsily, his gold-plated automatic stuffed down the back of his jeans, is unforgettable.  Turkey’s main opposition party is “no more than a bunch of elitist ankle-biters.”  Prime Minister Erdogan believes in God “but doesn’t trust him.”  His “rhetorical skill, while etched with populist victimhood, [is] redolent...

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