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The Resigning Ambassador: Sir Kim Darroch on Donald Trump

Rarely do ambassadors resign after an intense self-assessment of worth. Diplomatic immunity does not merely extend to protecting the official from the reach of local laws; it encourages a degree of freedom in engaging as a country’s representative. Sir Kim Darroch, as UK ambassador to the United States, felt that any freedom afforded him in that capacity had ended. “The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would have liked.”

The storm between Darroch’s good offices and the Trump administration was precipitated by the publication in the Mail on Sunday of content drawn from leaked diplomatic cables. Darroch expressed a view both unsurprising as it was prosaic. “We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven less diplomatically clumsy and inept.”

Specific foreign policy areas were singled out. Regarding Tehran, a memorandum from June 22 notes that it was “unlikely that US policy on Iran is going to become more coherent anytime soon. This is a divided Administration.” Future British-US relations are in for a heady time. “As we advance our agenda of deepening and strengthening trading agreements,” comes Darroch’s warning in a June 10 memorandum, “divergences of approach on climate change, media freedoms and the death penalty may come to the fore.”

Darroch’s assessment might have been withering, but he was keen to provide his superiors a portrait on how best to approach Trump. All importantly, emphasise concentrated repetition. “It’s important to ‘flood the zone’: you want as many as possible of those who Trump consults to give them the same answer.” It was important to keep up his interest on the phone: speak two or three times a month, maybe more. Flatter him and treacle-glaze words. “You need to start praising him for something that he’s done recently.” Be blunt; if critical of Trump, be sure it is not personal and not a matter or surprise. Throw him parties, roll out the red carpet, and entertain the beast.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May, while caught off guard, did not flinch in backing her man in Washington. What mattered was not the content of the correspondence but the fact of its revelation. (Ignore the substance; punish the leaker). “Contact has been made with the Trump administration, setting out our view that we believe the leak is unacceptable,” came the view of May’s spokesman. “It is, of course, a matter of regret that this has happened.”

Such regret tends to take the form of safe, internally orchestrated inquiries. At their conclusion, amnesia would have set in, making no one the wiser. UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt has promised “serious consequences” for the source, but he was also open to the default position of Anglo-US politics when matters sour: the Russians might have done it. “Of course,” he told The Sun, “it would be massively concerning if it was the act of a foreign, hostile state.” Feeling some unnatural urge for balance, he felt it necessary to tell the paper that he had “seen no evidence that’s the case, but we’ll look at the leak inquiry very carefully.”

Former British ambassador to Washington, Christopher Meyer, cast the net wider. “It was clearly somebody,” he opined on BBC radio, “who set out deliberately to sabotage Sir Kim’s ambassadorship, to make his position untenable and to have him replaced by somebody more congenial to the leaker.”

On July 8, Trump issued a spray on Twitter designed to sink the ambassador’s continued appointment. “I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not well liked or well thought of within the US. We will no longer deal with him.” The comment was a prelude to his usual self-congratulatory view on such matters as Brexit. “I have been very critical about the way the UK and Prime Minister Theresa May handled Brexit. What a mess she and her representatives have created.” May, he felt, had refused to accede to this all shaking wisdom.

Darroch’s exposure to the Trump show was never going to have unqualified shielding. May will shortly vacate the prime minister’s office, leaving the way for either Boris Johnson or Hunt to take the reins. Given that the UK is set – at least as things stand – to leave the European Union on October 31, being in the Trump administration’s good books for a US-UK trade deal is a matter of distracting importance. To illustrate the point, UK trade minister Liam Fox made a note on a visit to Washington to issue an apology to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka.

Darroch’s remarks, to that end, assumed another degree of importance. Would Britain’s representative in Washington have the support of May’s successor? The stance taken by the main contender for the Tory leadership in a debate on Tuesday cast doubt on that position. Johnson’s opponent, Jeremy Hunt, failed to receive a clear answer after questioning Johnson on whether he would stick with the ambassador should he become prime minister.

On Friday, the BBC’s Andrew Neil got closer, but received a good deal of waffle by way of response. “I stood up completely for the principle that civil servants should be allowed to say what they want for their political masters without fear or favour.” Not quite. An old tradition was broken with, and Trump, as he continues to do, had gotten his way – again.

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  1. Jack Cade

    Darrock’s assessment is spot on, but ‘good diplomacy’ has done eff all for world peace since WW2. Career diplomats have allowed the ‘allies’ to attack Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya etc etc etc in my lifetime, usually on spurious grounds and always to satisfy US blood lust and in our case to allow arselicking Australian PMs with no war experience and no fighting age offspring but the lust to be deemed ‘great allies’.
    And our most recent ‘diplomat’ to the USA invited GM to bugger off.

  2. Phil

    What Jack Cade said.

    Trump is an imbecile the more dirt they dig up on him the more dangerous the world becomes. If he goes down he may just take the rest of us with him. Every time I wake up and turn on the news I think, will I see the sunset tonight? He has surrounded himself with a load of imbeciles, shysters, neo cons, and other assorted lick spittles. I for one hope that the likes of Pompeo and Bolton get struck by lightning. In Bolton’s case that forest he has under his nose catching fire would need the local fire brigade to put it out. A dangerous Dork. It is all becoming beyond a joke.

  3. Jack Cade

    Phil. What you have written is beyond argument. But while most people see Trump as an aberration, I see him as part of the continuum of the attitude the USA has of the world. He is not the only simpleton they’ve elected. The sainted Reagan was a 24 carat
    cretin and Dubya need not be mentioned. They were the same as Trump, mouthpieces for the military/industrial sector that dictates US foreign policy.
    The Democrats gave us presidents of high intelligence. But JFK invaded Vietnam.
    Obama destroyed Libya. Hilary Clinton would probably have done the same as Trump regarding Venezuela and Iran.
    The only ‘good and decent man’ the US ever elected was Jimmy Carter, and they gave him one term. He continues to speak the truth about his country’s exploits but nobody seems to care.
    We now have a PM who has already more or less egged Trump on in his urge to be a warrior president. Like a number of his predecessors, Morrison jumps up shouting ‘I’ll go! I’ll go. Take me! Take me!’
    That’s how it is. That’s how we are.

  4. Florence Howarth

    I have not read of one person who disagreed with what is written. Not one person.

  5. RomeoCharlie29

    I wonder, has the US and by extension, the UK and little brown-nose Australia, been on the “right” side in any of the conflicts it has initiated, and we have supported, in the past 75 years? Perhaps Korea. Our Murdoch dominated media have, generally, urged our participation in the overthrow of what have mostly been popularly elected regimes, the idea that the intellectually challenged accidental prime minister seems to be offering support to an equally intellectually challenged US President in regard to war with Iran, is frightening indeed.

  6. Phil

    Jack Cade.

    Agree with all that.

    Go on to Facebook there will you read the thoughts of people about Trump that would make you think they must be in an asylum.

    A snippet ref Vietnam. My eldest brother served there whilst I was living in Adelaide my parents received a telegram from channel nine that my brother would appear to deliver an xmas message. The journalist in Vietnam that approached him gave him a set of water ski’s and told him to wax lyrically about the skiing. He was also told what he could say and couldn’t say in the message. This btw had nothing to do with any military intelligence or logistics he may have known. This was purely feel good propaganda. They the establishment like their wars to be squeaky clean. The recent raid on the ABC is all about saving the coterie of babbling baboons masquerading as a government, any embarrassment.

    It’s dollars to donuts very few members of the Morrison cabinet, would remember the carnage that was brought into our living rooms on TV ref the Vietnam war. Any thing after that war is sanitized propaganda.

    I am old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis. Because of my families location on the globe at the time it was odds on we were a target. My direct family had meetings with other relatives about would they sit it out or get out of Dodge that’s how serious it was. The imbeciles leading us at the moment don’t have a clue.

    As an aside and I didn’t miss it, one of the commenters here after your spray asked you what you had been reading. You said ‘ history ‘( It was about the Nazi’s) The upshot of that of which was plain to me any way , was either you were confused or, indeed lying. I have studied the same subject in depth. This is what we are up against, the ignorance of our past by some people, is breath taking.

    There is a shit storm about to descend down on us of that I no doubt what so ever. You can taste it.

  7. John Boyd

    Hi Phil…I also am old enough to remember it. I was in college at Sydney Uni at the time, and a bunch of us were watching TV in the common room waiting to see what happened. One by one we drifted off to bed. I gave up about 3am, ‘If we are going to be vaporised, we may as well be asleep when it happens’.

  8. Stephengb

    I believe that war is inevitable, I hope that it will be contained to a regional war but I fear that war with Iran will be ever so dangerous because Iran is the last of middle eastern oil that is not subjugated by the USA.

  9. Stephengb

    The Leak is in Britain or the States, I wonder who stands to gain by discrediting British forign affairs

  10. Phil

    John Boyd.

    Sleep is the operative word, our leaders are asleep alright. We at least in Aus may have some time to make peace with our maker before the whole shit house goes up in flames. It is not looking good. If it kicks off in Iran for mine, it will spread. One of my sons has been to Afghanistan for me this is personal not just politics. While I lay in bed with his mother worrying my guts out, our leaders are feasting and fornicating and treating us like fcking mushrooms. I have never ever had so much contempt for politicians as I have in the last few years. I always wondered how a revolution actually got started, now I know. If Dutton becomes P.M of this country I as much as I hate them from experience, will buy a gun. Not to protect my family from a foreign enemy, but from our own authorities. I aint kidding. I have been speaking to people of late and there are many frightened pensioners, the sick and other waifs and strays who are wondering where this shower of shit houses governing us are going to take us. I despair.

  11. Pere Duchesne

    That the ambassador should have resigned should be regarded as an outrageous injustice, but it is exponentially worse because it is deference to a mad dog.

    I agree with Jack Cade. Like Morrison and in the US case Reagan and Nixon, Trump is the system unmasked, not an aberration of it.

  12. David Bruce

    We live in interesting times. I remember the Korean War and the nightly news broadcasts. Later I was in Vietnam, Borneo and Mindanao, doing things our wise governments sanctioned. It permanently changed my world-view when I saw “behind the curtain” and the only winners in war time are the banks and the arms merchants.

    What is happening in the Middle East was planned many decades ago and we are now seeing desperate attempts to get the anglo saxon mission completed before a catastrophic “geophysical event” takes place.


    By all accounts, the perps are running out of time to make the Iran-thing happen.

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