Monday was supposed to be a day of earth shattering revelations after WikiLeaks, a cheeky web site founded by an Australian, leaked 250,000 diplomatic cables, most of them not-so-diplomatic observations of U.S. diplomats around the world.
I’m not sure what I was waiting for, but so far, in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, it’s déjà vu all over again.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is an “alpha dog” and his hand-picked President Dimitri Medvedev “plays Robin to Putin’s Batman.” As if we didn’t know who was really in charge all along, and as if Putin really cares who knows.
Robert Mugabe, the nasty old President of Zimbabwe. Turns out he thinks his 18 doctorates give him license to suspend the laws of economics, in particular supply and demand. We’ve been watching Zimbabwe unravel for years under Mugabe’s diktats. What I really want to know is how many of his doctorates came off the back of a book of matches.
Then there’s German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who’s “risk averse and rarely creative,” which is diplomatic language for “boring.” Oh, really? Old news. If you’re looking for exciting, you have to go to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a renowned scalliwag. Diplomats report that he likes to host “bunga bunga” parties, whatever they are. Anything called “bunga bunga” is not boring. But we already know Berlusconi is anything but boring. Corrupt and creepy maybe, but never boring.
Speaking of corrupt and creepy, we have Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, in that order. Karzai, Afghanistan’s foremost fixer, is painted as “widely understood to be corrupt and a narcotics trafficker,” but the go-to guy when you want to get something done in Absurdistan. As for Gaddafi, he never goes anywhere without his “voluptuous” Ukrainian nurse. Any of this surprise you yet?
My favourite? French President Nicholas Sarkozy is “an emperor with no clothes.” Aren’t they all?
In leak after leak, suspicions are confirmed, worst fears realized, faith in human nature disappointed. But what’s missing, with one notable exception, is any reason for optimism. That one exception? China has come to realize that its long-term ally, Kim Jong-Il of North Korea, acts like a spoiled child. We already knew that anyone who spends more than half a million bucks a year on cognac while the average North Korean makes $1,000 a year is spoiled, to say the least. Now China finally gets it.
Hey, you take what you can get.
Paul Sullivan is a Vancouver-based journalist and owner of Sullivan Media Consulting; email@example.com.