WikiLeaks reveal marketing as part of diplomacy

Monday - 1/3/2011, 3:38pm EST

It's not unusual for U.S. diplomats to market things like Boeing jets and space flights as a part of international relations, according to hundreds of cables released by WikiLeaks.

The New York Times reports some of the latest releases from the website describe some very high-level politicking -- and bargaining.

A couple of the examples:

  • The king of Saudi Arabia wanted the United States to outfit his personal jet with the same high-tech devices as Air Force One.

  • Meanwhile, the president of Turkey wanted the Obama administration to let a Turkish astronaut sit in on a NASA space flight.

Both leaders had one thing in common: They were trying to decide whether or not to buy billions of dollars' worth of commercial jets from Boeing or its European competitor - Airbus.

American diplomats basically took on roles as marketing agents. They reportedly offered deals to heads of state and airline executives, whose decisions might be influenced by things like price, performance, and perks.

Tens of billions of dollars were on the line, along with hundreds of thousands of jobs. The WikiLeaks cables offer a very detailed look at what the public had only seen glimpses of before -- the sales war that goes on between American diplomats and their European counterparts.