DIPLOMACY takes some strange forms. In Havana, Cuba, the office of the United States representative has installed an electronic display on which passages from Martin Luther King's “I have a dream” speech are being shown in 9 foot high red letters. Interspersed with the Rev King's stirring words are excerpts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and words of wisdom from anti-communist leaders such as Poland's Lech Walesa and the Czech Republic's Vaclav Havel. Cuba's President Castro has taken offence at this crude propaganda and pointed out that what is going on in the strip of US territory on Cuba known as Guantanomo Bay is not eactly an advertisement for the principles in the Declaration of Human Rights. Even more bizarre is the case of the fake rock in a Moscow park which allegedly contained equipment that enabled agents employed by the British Embassy to transmit radio messages to their handler without ever actually meeting or having to use the old “dead letter drop” method. Russian TV pictures have shown British diplomats installing and maintaining the rock and in doing so inevitable drawing attention to their activities. This is one of those news stories that makes one wonder whether the calendar has somehow fastforwarded to April 1. But the diplomats have been identified and their movements filmed. All that remains now is to wait to see what use President Putin plans to make of this hamfisted piece of espionage. Mr Blair has expressed “surprise”, but he would, wouldn't he. Everyone knows that even among close allies (the United States and Israel, for instance) spying goes on, but the surprise in the Moscow rock case is just how hapless the British operation seems to be. It has been pointed out that last year MI6 advertised for recruits who might have “the skills to devise high-tech gadgets or deploy them in a hostile environment.” The new entry must already be at work.


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