It should have remained a secret, but now everyone knows what the British ambassador thinks about the White House: “divided”, “unpredictable” and “clumsy”.
Ambassadors have no official opinion. You will never hear them make a political statement in public: they are civil servants, not politicians. But they are the eyes and ears of their national government in another country. They are expected to give their opinion honestly and unsalted, but only for internal use.
So now that the honest and unsalted opinion of the British ambassador to America, Sir Kim Darroch, has leaked, it becomes pretty uncomfortable. He calls the US government “incompetent and uncertain”, “unprecedented dysfunctional” and “divided.” He does not have much hope that it will improve in the future: “We do not believe that this government will become substantially more normal, less dysfunctional, less unpredictable, less hassle and fewer diplomatic blunders.”
Sir Kim is also not impressed by the American Iran policy: “incoherent” and “chaotic.” President Donald Trump’s claim that he recently called off an attack on Iran at the last minute, the ambassador calls “nonsense.” “He wasn’t even fully involved.” And another sneer at Trump: you can get through to him, but only if you present things very simply or are very blunt.
It is not the first time that this type of confidential message has been leaked. In December 2010, Wikileaks revealed thousands of emails from American ambassadors to their governments. And that was made of thick wood, people saw boards. Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende was put away as a cunning politician who resembled Harry Potter. Afghan President Hamid Karzai was paranoid and extremely weak. The Argentinian presidents couple Cristina and Nestor Kirchner: also paranoid and they did not understand foreign policy at all. The Chinese leader Xi Jinping was extremely ambitious and redder than red; the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a control freak; Nicolas Sarkozy authoritarian, quickly kicked on his toes and an emperor without clothes; Angela Merkel had a teflon layer; and even Geert Wilders did not escape the judgment of the ambassador in The Hague: a wild bras with a golden fat crest.
It was reported that it took years for the Americans to iron everything out again. The British have not apologized this weekend. They did not even say that the messages from their ambassador were incorrect. A Foreign Office spokesperson said only that Darroch did exactly what he was being paid for, and that ministers and officials in London would “handle the news” in the right way.