RENEE MONTAGNE: Some of these dispatches, they have a novelistic quality, a literary quality.
Prof. GARTON ASH: Again, I'm very impressed. There's a wonderful and hilarious account of a Dagestani wedding attended by the president of Chechnya with his gold-plated automatic stuffed down the back of his jeans. There's extraordinary stuff in there. But that's, in a sense, the icing on the cake, to change the culinary metaphor ... The real substance is the serious political reporting.
-- snip --
MONTAGNE: Does any of it that you've seen so far in these cables change fundamentally your view of how the world works?
Prof. GARTON ASH: Well, it revises upward my personal opinion of the State Department. In other words, what I've seen about how they report and how they operate is really quite impressive. Secondly, what emerges very, very clearly is that if this were a person, it would be a traumatized person - someone who'd gone through a great shock, and that shock was, of course, 9/11. And the way in which security and counterterrorism concerns permeate almost every aspect of U.S. diplomacy in whatever country it is, is for me very striking.
You can listen to the four-minute interview here.
I've noticed similar comments from other interviewees recently. So you can't say nothing good ever came out of this mess.
Update - Just saw another example:
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange crowed yesterday that the State Department "is going to have a hard time of it trying to spin" his organization's ongoing document dump. U.S. diplomats, he said, will "find their very privileged position in life undermined by having their lies revealed."
Presumably, he wasn't talking about the latest tranche of documents, which cover the 2005 civil unrest in the French banlieues and the subsequent U.S. perspective on France's integration (or lack thereof) of its Muslim minority. These cables show the U.S. diplomatic corps grappling reasonably with how to bring American resources to bear to improve this endemic problem in French society.
-- snip --
In short, these are the most sensible, boring cables that I've come across yet. And I'm at a loss why Julian Assange thinks that they will do anything but increase the American public's belief that its government, by and large, acts responsibly on the international stage
Read the rest here.