Wikileaks embarrass US government

The US has strongly criticised the release by the website Wikileaks of thousands of extracts from secret messages between officials in America and abroad. However, Wikileaks says the information is of no threat to security around the world.

Jonathan Marcus

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So what do the Americans really think about the heads of state and government they have to deal with? Not a lot in some cases and that, let’s be honest, is one of the most interesting aspects of the Wikileaks material; the candid, uncensored and often rather colourful descriptions of people like the Libyan Leader, Muammar Gaddafi, or the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

All this is hugely embarrassing for the Americans and hugely entertaining for us, but it isn’t going to change much. Countries do not break off ties over such things. Indeed there is little in this first batch of cables that will send shock-waves through any of Washington’s bilateral relationships with its friends and allies abroad.

What the publication of the cables has done though, is enable us to begin to sketch in some of the detail of stories, like the Gulf rulers' antipathy towards Iran, which was known but never spelt out in such crystal clear terms. The evolution of US policy towards Iran over the past two presidencies now becomes clearer; how the Obama Administration in particular has sought to bring Russia and China on board; and how Israel’s relationship with Moscow has also become part of the equation.

However one story in particular, the revelation that the US was trying to get enriched uranium out of Pakistan, also illustrates the potential damage that these sorts of revelations can do. Some things can be done behind the scenes which would be impossible in the full glare of publicity. Secrecy is part of the currency of diplomacy and this huge haemorrhage of information has, temporarily at least, devalued an essential element of that currency.

Jonathan Marcus, BBC News

Listen to the words

francas, sinceras

break off ties
rompen relaciones (formales)

batch of cables
colección de mensajes / comunicados

bilateral relationships
relaciones / amistades bilaterales

sketch in some of the detail
dar más detalles

antipatía / aversión

crystal clear
muy fácil de entender

behind the scenes
entre bastidores / en privado

the currency of diplomacy
el método / proceso para la diplomacia entre naciones

haemorrhage of information
(literalmente) hemorragia de / mar de información