How they see us: A diplomat’s dismal take on Trump
Britain’s ambassador to the U.S. has been punished for “doing his job,” said William Hague in The Daily Telegraph (U.K.). Two years’ worth of secret memos from Sir Kim Darroch to the prime minister’s office were leaked to the media this week, and they were stuffed full of unflattering observations about President Donald Trump. Darroch warned that Trump might be indebted to “dodgy Russians,” that his “uniquely dysfunctional” White House could do “profoundly damaging things to the world trade system,” and that his administration might end in “disgrace.” But Darroch, 65, also told London not to underestimate Trump’s resilience, likening him to the Terminator, the almost indestructible cyborg played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The comments infuriated Trump, who called the veteran diplomat “a pompous fool,” adding, “We will no longer deal with him.” Darroch resigned soon after, saying his position had become “impossible.” His downfall is a scandal: We expect our diplomats to provide honest insights about the country where they are posted, dispatches that help shape policy. If such reports had to be composed with an eye on avoiding giving offense to foreign governments, “they would be utterly useless.” Whoever leaked these documents is “no friend or servant of this country.”
Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May has opened an inquiry into the leak, said Tom Newton Dunn in The Sun, and because Darroch’s cables “were sent only to a very limited distribution list,” a handful of senior cabinet ministers are under suspicion. It’s possible that the leaker was a Brexit supporter intent on discrediting Darroch, a former U.K. representative to the European Union who is regarded by many in government as a Europhile. Whomever the ruling Conservative Party picks in two weeks to replace May—lawmaker Boris Johnson is the favorite—the new prime minister will have to make sure that the next ambassador meets with Trump’s approval. Actually, said Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph, if Johnson secures the top job, he should forget about middlemen and work with Trump directly. Darroch and May were “too nervous of EU displeasure” and too horrified by the vulgar U.S. president “to exploit the special relationship after the Brexit vote which Trump warmly welcomed.” But Johnson, a charismatic Brexiteer, understands the importance of our American allies. He can rectify those missed opportunities “almost overnight if he flies to see President Donald” after winning his party’s vote.
The irony of this whole flap is that nothing in Darroch’s cables was shocking or new, said Simon Jenkins in The Guardian. “He said little that anyone could not read in a newspaper,” which makes it baffling why he chose to put his less-than-diplomatic opinions in writing. Perhaps he thought his scathing comments would be kept secret. “If so, he was a fool.” A lifetime member of the establishment, he should have known that Britain’s post-Brexit government is riven with factions, all jostling for power and happy to weaponize embarrassing information. “If Darroch was so keen to convey his pearls of wisdom to his colleagues, he should have given them lunch in his club.” ■