Thursday, December 09, 2010

An insight into "diplomacy"

The US cables released by Wikileaks tell us something about diplomacy and a lot more about "peddling influence."

Firstly let's think about the US Embassy conclusion that Kevin Rudd is "an egotistical control freak". As this morning's Herald cartoon noted - thank goodness the leak didn't tell us something we didn't already know.

In fact a lot of what goes for background looks like it could (and was) lifted out of the local newspapers. After all, that's ultimately what someone local can do for you.

Diplomats are like any other people - they have a limited range of possible information sources, they need to decide the relative reliability and they need to summarize the information and reconcile points where sources disagree.

The more worrying cables are those suggesting that certain figures, drawn from what could loosely be called the industrial right, were identified as having particular influence with the Government. The article in particular highlighted Mark Arbib.

Now once again the Embassy was only following fashion - everyone thought Arbib was influential. This was especially true amongst professional lobbyists and the gallery.

But analyse further how that influence occurs. Arbib tells everyone outside Parliament that he's influential, so everyone wants to meet with him. Because he meets with so many people Arbib can speak with authority inside the Parliament because of the impressive array of people he can say he's had discussions with.

I'm looking for help here in identifying anything Arbib ever did influence, other than the disastrous walk away from the CPRF. And to the extent that he carried any influence it seems that it was based more on his possession of polling data than personal influence.

So the method is simple - be convincing when you tell people you are influential and people will believe you. It really is that simple!

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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