Diplomats have opinions? I’m shocked

Who else is underwhelmed by the diplomatic correspondence released by WikiLeaks? Berlusconi is vain? Putin is an “alpha dog”? No shit. Rudd’s a control freak who makes announcements without consulting anyone? We knew that already – did we really need almost the entire front page of the SMH to tell us again? The diplomat behind that one could have just been writing about the stories about Rudd while he was PM.

Maybe I’m missing something, but where did we get the idea that a diplomat should only say nice things about their host-country’s politicians in private correspondence to their home country? Isn’t it their job to play nice with the locals while quietly reporting back to the boss?

Yes, I understand that the release of this previously-secret correspondence represents a warning to people with power, rather than any genuine outrage over what’s in them. I get that. But I have this nagging feeling that each time Australia’s mainstream media focuses on the silly and tawdry – like Gaddafi’s Ukrainian nurse – it means they’re missing something that’s actually important. WikiLeaks is dumping thousands of secret documents, yet what have we found out? That diplomats have opinions about world leaders. Big woop.

There are certain words that cause hard-ons in newsrooms: sex, Facebook, Twitter, and now, WikiLeaks. Journos will use anything to link a story to either of these, no matter how tenuous. Someone who used Facebook to arrange to meet up with someone else they planned to kill becomes known as the ‘Facebook killer’. If they’d met at work, the murderer wouldn’t be called the ‘work killer’. A teacher accused of raping a child becomes (wrongly) known as the ‘sex scandal teacher’.

And now, since the collateral murder video, the MSM has soiled its pants over anything to do with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. So it’s not surprising that the sexual assault charges against Assange have made headlines around the world, in a way that those against, say, Roman Polanski didn’t. I don’t recall politicians calling for Polanski’s assassination for drugging and raping a child and then spending the next 33 years avoiding countries where he might get caught. Just to be clear: one is a high-profile spokesman for a whistleblower website who has be accused of sexually assaulting two adults. The other is an award-winning film director who admitted drugging and anally raping a child. So why was one just a news brief in the world section and the other The Most Important Story Of The Week?

I’m not saying the charges against Assange are bogus. He should go to Sweden and face court, just like anyone else. But look at what we’re all talking about – whether or not the women made it up. As Marian at The Conscience Vote writes, the condom issue has been used to demonise the women involved:

But wait a minute – whatever people think of this specific law, look at the hypothetical situation being described. One partner has withdrawn consent for whatever reason. Most rape laws in the Western world would agree that at this point, the sex is no longer consensual.

What I am saying is that we’re all missing the point. We’re too busy looking at the nude mouse in the corner to notice the elephant is tap-dancing and singing Frank Sinatra songs. It’s not just me feeling uneasy about this. James O’Neill writes in New Matilda:

Predictably the mainstream Australian media chose to emphasise the trivial at the expense of the many substantive issues raised by the Wikileaks disclosures. Now that Australia has been brought into the furore with revelations about Kevin Rudd during his prime ministership that may change. But don’t count on it.

The MSM obsession with anything to do with Assange and anything to do with sex means we’re arguing over whether it’s “rape” or “rape-rape” instead of looking closely at the documents that are being released. I don’t need to read a new WikiLeaks story every day. I just want to read the important ones.

16 responses to “Diplomats have opinions? I’m shocked

  1. Yep. That’s about the size of it.
    Well written.

  2. No doubt if Assange is actually proven guilty, the conspiracy theorists (the ones that come around to believing it is not actually a Big Frame Up by the Agents of NWO) will soon be starting the rumours that he was either a CIA agent put in there to PUBLICLY DISCREDIT them!!!! Or, a Giant Lizard Person.

  3. When the wikileaks story hit I was in HK and following on BBC asia, the first day it was nothing but “who said what about who” then as more of the documents came out there was some fresh light shined on some of the major issues in the region and one of them being the discussion between china and the US in relation to the issue of Nth Korea. The next day there was a grab from one of Chinas officials not denying the statement and shared concern over the issue…. This I believe is an amazing thing from china a nation that usually posts a “no comment” when it comes to Nth Korea. Without the leak of these documents the world would not know and Nth Korea too would not know that their big brother china was having second thoughts about backing up the crazy state.

    There are about a dozen of similar issues that have arisen from this and maybe nothing more than public debate will come of them but we are getting a good look at what is the opinion of a super power and what their concerns are and who knows….

    As the documents date back to 1966, I’ll be interested to see some of the correspondence that comes out from the 70’s in relation to the anti Vietnam issues and Australia’s involvement in Desert Storm II.

    I know I’ll have to go and find these myself as they are not sensational enough for the media….

  4. not in singapore

    in HK yes, great access both to print, TV and porn..

    🙂

  5. Thank you so much for this! I had a conniption at work yesterday, bursting with frustration at the banality of it all.

    So – diplomats have opinions. Kevin Rudd’s a control freak – well – that’s totally news to me!!

    Seriously, it’s like if you watched a bank robbery occur, but then the robber says s/he didn’t do it, and you go ”oh well, s/he didn’t do it”, and then get suprised when s/he admits to it?

    • Hi Natalie, welcome to the News with Nipples. The story today about Mark Arbib is much more interesting – and newsworthy – but I wonder how much of it is a beat-up? When does a few conversations about US and Australian politics with someone you get along with, turn into being an informant? Where’s that line?

  6. The age editor was talking on abc news and states they have loads of interesting stuff that they will publish by drip feed over the next few days. He looked pretty pleased with himself. It better be more of public interest than diplomats are more candid with their bosses than with the press .

  7. Did you read Ackermans piece in yesterdays ST? At first I wondered if it was necessary to know that Bradley Manning was homosexual, then I wondered how Piers came to know that he downloaded these files while lip synching to Lady Gaga, then I wondered how an article about Assange et al turned into a kickfest on Fairfax for basically being chosen for the scoops.

  8. I shall present you with some of my favourite quotes:
    ‘As readers of the best-selling author Stieg Larsson and fans of his most famous character, the tattooed Lisbeth Salander, well know, it pays to think at least twice before going to bed with a Scandinavian.’
    ‘but it does leave Leftist feminists in a dilemma over whether they should support him or their offended and now outed groupies-in-arms.’
    (A comment almost tailor made for this blog.)
    ‘It would seem that his two sexual partners, both initially enthusiastic participants, became most aggrieved when they discovered that their lover was celebrating Sweden’s sexual liberation with more gusto than they had hoped.’
    (consent was predicated upon the use of a condom. when Assange allegedly deviated from this condition, consent was no longer present. Thus if the alleged victims are accurate in their claims, it is rape in any jurisdiction including ours. Consent needs to be continuous.)
    ‘he was merely the conduit for a seriously unbalanced homosexual American military clerk named Bradley Manning who apparently decided to wreak his revenge on the US defence force for his perceived unhappiness by downloading all the cable traffic he could access while lip-synching to Lady Gaga.’
    (What?!?!)
    ‘Former Communist, now Green Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon, did not focus the adoration of her deluded followers on Manning during a demonstration in Sydney on Friday but the money pouring into Left-wing groups like the hypocritical GetUp should be used to provide support to Manning, not Assange, if the Left were true to any sort of principle.’
    (Of course Rhiannon was a communist and I have said so quite loudly however that has no bearing on this story. Also Manning is fucked no matter how many lefties jump to his aid.)

  9. Pingback: No need to know known unknowns | the news with nipples

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