Leaked Documents Provide View Into U.S. Diplomacy The Obama administration is in the midst of international damage control now that WikiLeaks has released 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables. The cables cover an array of subjects including assessments of terrorist and nuclear threats, and offer candid assessments of world leaders.
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Leaked Documents Provide View Into U.S. Diplomacy

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Leaked Documents Provide View Into U.S. Diplomacy

Leaked Documents Provide View Into U.S. Diplomacy

Leaked Documents Provide View Into U.S. Diplomacy

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/131660855/131660824" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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The Obama administration is in the midst of international damage control now that WikiLeaks has released 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables. The cables cover an array of subjects including assessments of terrorist and nuclear threats, and offer candid assessments of world leaders.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

NPR's Michele Kellerman joins us now to talk about some of the revelations. Good morning.

MICHELE KELEMEN: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Now, these documents that have been dumped, if you will, are much broader than what WikiLeaks has done before. And tell us about some of the more candid moments that you find there.

KELEMEN: There were also embarrassing moments for someone like the leader of Yemen who, according to one cable, told the U.S. that he was worried about drug smuggling from Djibouti, but wouldn't mind whiskey smuggling as long as it's good whiskey.

MONTAGNE: Iran was a major topic in many of these diplomatic cables, with Arab leaders seeming to push for much tougher action to curb Iran's nuclear and regional ambitions than I think most of us would know about. What more did we learn about?

KELEMEN: Yeah. You know, we've often heard that Arab leaders are nervous about Iran's influence in the region. They're nervous about the nuclear program, but we've never heard it with such candor.

INSKEEP: They lie to us, and we lie to them. In another, the king of Saudi Arabia is quoted as saying the U.S. should cut off the head of the snake. And he seemed to be pushing for military action.

MONTAGNE: Against Iran.

KELEMEN: Not all were advocating for a military solution. You had Abu Dhabi's crown prince saying that military action would delay Iran's nuclear program but wouldn't derail it completely. And he apparently advocated another way, and it was to quote, split the Iranians from the inside.

MONTAGNE: And there were also directives from Secretary Clinton that seem to blur the line between diplomacy and espionage. What is exactly - give us some examples of what U.S. diplomats were asked to do. What does the U.S. have to say about that now?

KELEMEN: State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley tweeted last night that contrary to some of the reporting around this, U.S. diplomats are diplomats and not intelligence assets. He says that diplomats collect information that shape U.S. policies and actions, and that diplomats for all nations do the same thing.

MONTAGNE: Well, just briefly, what are the implications here for U.S. diplomacy and international diplomacy?

KELEMEN: So the U.S. has to really reach out to a lot of people now, and make sure this doesn't translate into troubles for cooperation on terrorism and non- proliferation, and other issues.

MONTAGNE: Michele, thanks very much.

KELEMEN: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Michele Kelemen.

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