Sunday, December 12, 2010

Damage Control

As though the President of the United States and his Secretary of State aren't sufficiently embroiled in high-level executive decision-making, they are now engaged in a very lively manner in soothing the outraged feelings of their international colleagues, as one nation after another is made aware of some fairly humorously disrespectful and undiplomatic confidences aired through WikiLeaks' mischief posing as righteous disclosures.

In all likelihood, Silvio Berlusconi alone would fail to be displeased over the revelations in perception pertaining to his penchant for partying, by U.S. State Department diplomats eager to have their discerning comments noted and ticked off for further advancement consideration. The frank assessments, most of which hit the mark fairly accurately in summing up personalities and situations, must have had the effect of bruising some inflated egos on the international scene.

No one takes pleasure over their official stances and their personal shortcomings as others see them, being pointed out for the reading delectation of junior diplomats and their high-ranking masters. No head of state would take kindly to the thought that someone out there, a colleague, a peer in executive governance, is secretly laughing over their foibles and peccadilloes. It pricks a hole in their dignity and self-esteem.

But there's President Obama, speaking smoothly and comfortingly to hurt feelings, assuring his international counterparts that no harm was intended, and what lower-level diplomats assay is most certainly not reflective of the serious respect they can believe emanates from his office and his Cabinet. The esteem in which they are held is not to be questioned, and the president will make it his business to see nothing so unfortunate re-occurs.

The United States needs its allies. And those who present as allies to the United States - still the most powerful and influential nation on Earth, despite its faltering reputation and presence - do believe in the capacity of the U.S. administration to govern wisely and with an eye to the fortunes of the international community. The United States still represents a leadership role in the international community.

So when President Obama calls upon Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to impress upon him the "...enduring importance of the U.S.-Turkish partnership and [to] affirm[ed] their commitment to work together on a broad range of issues", it's the real deal. The deplorable, deeply regrettable distribution by WikiLeaks of U.S. diplomatic cables was unfortunate.

But it should not place a wedge between countries that have worked well together in the past, and will continue to do so, and pledge that to be reality. So everything's all right.

Even if, in reality, Turkey has become less of an asset and more of a real problem in the traditional Turkish-European relationship, and Prime Minister Erdogan himself represents nothing less than a threat to Europe in his evolving relationship with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.

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