The Wikileaks cables have brought us tales of nuclear intrigue in Pakistan, secret geopolitical negotiation in China, and the threat of all-out war in the Middle East. But what about our diplomatic mission in Canada? What untold secrets do their classified communications reveal to the world? Now that those cables have been released, we finally know: Canada is a pretty dull place to be a U.S. diplomat.
The most significant Canadian cable to emerge from the Wikileaks release is this long -- really long -- cable that, and we swear that we are not exaggerating its boringness, summarizes Canadian TV shows. If that does not have you feeling sorry for the State Department employee who probably dedicated years of hard study and work to joining the foreign service, only to end up in Ottawa transcribing CBC sitcoms, then consider the fact that he or she also has to pretend that his or her TV summaries have immediate geopolitical implications with "insidious" -- insidious! -- consequences.
The level of anti-American melodrama has been given a huge boost in the current television season as a number of programs offer Canadian viewers their fill of nefarious American officials carrying out equally nefarious deeds in Canada while Canadian officials either oppose them or fall trying. ... While this situation hardly constitutes a public diplomacy crisis per se, the degree of comfort with which Canadian broadcast entities, including those financed by Canadian tax dollars, twist current events to feed long-standing negative images of the U.S. -- and the extent to which the Canadian public seems willing to indulge in the feast - is noteworthy as an indication of the kind of insidious negative popular stereotyping we are increasingly up against in Canada.
The report is absolutely brimming with analysis of just about every single instance of a Canadian TV show mentioning the U.S., which appears to happen about once every seven minutes. Here's a representative sampling that no doubt made it straight to the desk of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
Episode two expands on this theme, featuring the arrival of an arrogant, albeit stunningly attractive female DHS officer, sort of a cross between Salma Hayek and Cruella De Vil. The show portrays the DHS official bossing around her stereotypically more compassionate Canadian colleagues.
The conclusion is written, and again we promise we are not exaggerating, with far greater urgency and alarm than, for example, the 2009 cable from Libya reporting loose weapons-grade uranium.
We need to do everything we can to make it more difficult for Canadians to fall into the trap of seeing all U.S. policies as the result of nefarious faceless U.S. bureaucrats anxious to squeeze their northern neighbor. While there are those who may rate the need for USG public-diplomacy programs as less vital in Canada than in other nations because our societies are so much alike, we clearly have real challenges here that simply must be adequately addressed.
Simply must be addressed! We assume that Congressional hearings are imminent.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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