by Milo Clark
(Swans - October 23, 2006) Diplomacy was once a gentleman's game (should I now say Gentleperson's game?) with rather precise rules and processes. Politesse was the supreme virtue, measure and mark of skills.
The general idea was to maintain balance. Diplomats were also career people who learned their trade in an orderly progression of education, exposure, and experience.
Ambassadors came and went with the winds of politics. They were expected to be seen at the rounds of parties among the diplomatic corps and to bring enough money to attempt to one-up the circuit with quality canapés, champagne, and brandy. The small talk of ambassador-level diplomacy was coded with cricket matches, extra innings, and rugger rumbles.
Serious business was the province of the career bureaucrats. It mattered little in practical effect if the career people were products of Oxbridge England, Confucian China, or Ivy League America; French was the language of diplomacy and its chess games were denominated in entretante and revanche.
Recently I watched some of the speeches occasioned by the opening of the 61st General Assembly of the United Nations. The CNN cameras regularly broke away to scan the assembled delegates seated behind their national nameplates. Heads of state, all 190 or so, got their minutes of occupying verbal space. For most that I watched, large numbers of delegates listened with expressions varying from feigned attention, to doodled boredom.
I listened once to George W. Bush with growing amazement that he can continue to lie so broadly and right through his teeth. Long ago I've given up trying to fathom how he does it with little, if any, clue that he is other than automaton.
Then I went back and ran him in fast forward. The programming is then more apparent. His pony book has to be in large type as he flips pages frequently although with little apparent attention to details. I couldn't tell if he was using a Teleprompter.
The seats of nearly all delegations scanned by CNN cameras were occupied. About the only ones who clapped on schedule were Rice and Bolton. Others turned their heads down in embarrassment. Even the Blairite Brits avoided ritual hand movements lest they be interpreted as possibly muted applause.
As I watched and listened to the translation of the speech by Iran's president I became gradually more impressed by the essential logics of his core themes (some of which are designed to curdle the ire of Bushophiles). He spoke in Farsi least readers fall into the propaganda trap that Iranians are Arabs and speak Arabic.
He was not going to be bullied from the bully pulpit. He is not blind to the extraordinary efforts of the once United States of America to establish military hegemony within Iraq to the north and west and Afghanistan to the east.
He cannot ignore the blatantly pro-Israel cheering section led by Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld and echoed by Blair of Britain during the recent and most embarrassing humbling of the mighty Israeli military machine by the Hezbollah of Lebanon. So what if hundreds of thousands of Lebanese were again blown out of houses and homes by weapons supplied by the once US of A? Who cares that the Israelis used internationally abhorred phosphorus munitions? Who cares that their parting raids spread millions of cluster bombs guaranteed to takes lives for months to come?
The problem of his area of the world was rooted firmly in the formation of Israel and the attendant treatment of the Palestinian people. The unremitting threats from the once United States of America to his nation and the unremitting abuses of the Palestinian people more overtly and more strongly supported by the once US of A are more than sufficient justification to pursue nuclear ambitions. Israel's possession of WMD, not the least of which is an arsenal of nuclear weapons, indelibly marks the hypocrisies.
I noticed that seats in front of which the sign read United States of America were empty. In contrast, the Brits held firm to the diplomatic niceties, doodling on.
So much for diplomacy. Bush the boor shows his stripes.
For over a decade we've brought you uninterrupted ad-free advocacy work free of charge. But while our publication is free to you, we are long on friends and short on cash. We need you, our readers, to help us financially. Please consider sending anow. Thank you.