THE EU HAS been left embarrassed after thousands of diplomatic cables spanning a three-year period were leaked to journalists at the New York Times. While the cables released so far show no diplomatic bombshells - highly confidential material is handled differently to the leaked bits and pieces - there's still enough in here to give the world a taste of global diplomacy in an insecure world where the EU juggles a Trump White House, Russian aggression and the ongoing Brexit boondoggle.
You can get a taster of some of the full cables on the New York Times site here, and buried in the formal diplomatic prose are a few telling lines. Donald Trump's said he enjoyed a "productive dialogue" and "got along well" with Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki summit, but the EU cable is a little more damning, describing it as "successful (at least for Putin)."
Another colourful note reads: "While Trump admired Putin, Putin saw Trump as an outlier." In other words: "honey, he's just not that into you."
Many of the cables concern Trump, one way or another. In another entertaining set, Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting with European diplomats highlights his annoyance at America's tariff-drive trade war. Accusing the US of "bullying" China, Xi is reported to have said that the country would "not flinch in the face of others," even if the "US was behaving as if it was fighting in a no-rules freestyle boxing match."
If China seems to come out of the cables better than other nations, it's worth taking a moment to reflect on how the cables were leaked. The leak was discovered by cybersecurity firm Area 1, and one of the company's experts, Blake Darche, told the New York Times that "There is no doubt this campaign is connected to the Chinese government."
And what devilish tricks did they use to access secret diplomatic cables? It must be something pretty cunning, right? Uh, no: they phished some Cypriot diplomats. "People talk about sophisticated hackers, but there was nothing really sophisticated about this," said Oren Falkowitz, Area 1's CEO.
You'd imagine diplomats from the EU member states will be receiving terse emails this morning, reminding them that not every deposed Nigerian prince is who they claim to be in their emails. µ
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