Today in Tablet Magazine, Mideast columnist Lee Smith shows that the Wikileaks cable reveal less about how, say, Arab Gulf countries actually feel about, say, Iran, and more about how they believe the United States can be seduced—and the dangers of the United States’ giving certain impressions about that. “Perhaps it is helpful,” Smith suggests,
to think of the Wikileaks cables in lay terms as a transcript of a guy (in this case, the Saudis) trying to pick up a pretty girl (the Americans) at a bar. What the boy says to the girl may or may not be true. What is most significant is the effect he means to produce, which is to convince the girl to go home with him. Hence, for observers what’s most interesting about the boy’s end of the conversation is the insight it offers into his own psyche—is he subtle, overbearing, self-obsessed, sensitive to others?—and into his perceptions of the girl.