Reuters Investigates

Insight and investigations from our expert reporters

Diplomacy Inc


By Ben Berkovitz

Diplomacy is a complex thing, and it gets even more complicated when diplomats are trying to act as salesmen.

A series of State Department cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and provided to Reuters by a third party, demonstrates just how intertwined American political and commercial interests really are. (See special report “Weapons, frozen chicken, and the art of diplomacy“)

Sometimes it takes an illustration, like this one, to explain just how these sorts of deals work. One conversation leads to another, which leads to the mention of someone’s interest, which gets passed up a chain of command – and all of a sudden, perhaps unexpectedly, someone gets what they wanted. It may seem simple but it rarely is – some of the transactions mentioned in the cables played out over the course of years, and in some cases they still have not been finalized. (There are examples where the flowchart would take up two computer screens just to summarize.)

(For a multimedia PDF version of the special report, click here)

A machine that makes it hard to die

USA/Our latest special report by Toni Clarke and Debra Sherman examines how a new heart pump is revolutionizing heart failure treatment.

Dr Lynne Warner Stevenson, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, raises a fascinating ethical question about the device, made by Thoratec. “This is one of the ways our technology has moved ahead of our humanity,” she said. “We haven’t had enough experience yet about how to help people die naturally who have a ventricular assist device. And I can tell you, it is difficult to die with one of these things in place. The body does not give up easily when the blood flow is maintained.”