Reuters Investigates

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Diplomacy Inc

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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)