All the talking heads scrutinizing the whole wikileaks “scandal” are, to me, missing the point, as well as an incredible opportunity. What’s my naive, idealistic solution? Don’t say anything behind closed doors you aren’t willing to say in public, and be willing to say in public whatever you might say behind closed doors. Are honesty & integrity and diplomacy really so mutually exclusive? Rather than glad-handing in public and defaming in private, why couldn’t diplomats respectfully express their concerns in equal terms to all concerned parties?
Barack Obama calling David Cameron a “lightweight” achieves nothing. If President Obama has concerns about Mr. Cameron’s fortitude, why couldn’t he express them to the man, in person, respectfully? Apparently, referring to Iran, “King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia repeatedly beseeched visiting American officials to ‘cut off the head of the snake!'” Such wanton hyperbole has no place in positions of leadership, regardless of how passionate an individual’s opinions might be.
The biggest failure here, to me, is the seeming inability of world leaders to recognize that in a world of truly pervasive globalism—a world in which industry in China can melt glaciers in Greenland and flood islands in the South Pacific—we are all on the same team. Aren’t nationalistic paradigms focused on borders and competition instead of interconnectedness and collaboration doing more harm than good at this stage of the game?
Returning to my original point, my moment of idealistic naivete, why are people in the mold, to varying degrees, of Gandhi, or Lou Gehrig (or even of many of the characters of Gary Cooper, who famously portrayed Gehrig), of those who consider honesty a requirement not subject to convenience, dismissed as quaint? Why can’t Mr. Smith go to Washington once again?