December 1, 2010  

Diplomatic response

TO AFGHANISTAN PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI for his surprisingly cool-headed and pragmatic response to WikiLeaks’ embarrassing diplomatic cable disclosures. Among the secret cables made public were less-than-complimentary comments about Karzai by U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry.

To huge American relief, Karzai swiftly dismissed the disclosures as “beneath his interest” and later added that people sometimes say things casually in private that do not reflect their more considered views. Days later, Karzai, Eikenberry and Defense Secretary Robert Gates met in Kabul, and it was as if nothing had happened.

As Gates put it, Karzai showed extraordinary statesmanship. From a practical perspective, Karzai grasped that there was little to be gained by adding — at least publicly — to America’s embarrassment.

Equally important, the president demonstrated a tactic against these WikiLeaks bombardments that other leaders might be wise to employ: Ignore them.