Pity the historians. In the past, we would leave the excavation of nuggets of candid observation about world leaders to academics who would spend hours sifting through documents in dimly-lit libraries many years, if not decades, after the events had occurred and when their subjects were probably nesting comfortably in the afterlife.
Wikileaks has changed that. For now, anyway. What we have courtesy of Julian Assange, the oddball impresario of political indiscretion, is a sudden splurge of nuggets, an incontinence of information. There is something for everyone. Isn't that the new normal in the age of social media? The dark art of diplomacy has been reduced to a giant chat-room of online bullies. The Royals are insulted. So is Britain's freshly minted prime minister. The Saudis want the US to bomb Iran. Do they mind, by the way, if the Israelis participate? Berlusconi is Putin's lapdog. Etc, etc.
None of these highly classified revelations, so far at least, comes as a complete shock. Prince Andrew behaving boorishly abroad. Really? David Cameron inexperienced. Duh? Sunni Arab leaders afraid of the Shia Persian bomb? We have been saying it for years. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi travelling to the UN with a busty blond Ukrainian nurse in tow? Well, his "international" guard of armed, voluptuous escorts has been well documented ever since he came to power some time in the last century.
So US diplomats have more or less the same insights as most foreign correspondents, although their language may be more uncouth. Perhaps, now that they know their telegrams will end up on the web, they will spend more time on the prose. Once they have stopped calling for the public lynching of Mr Assange and much tighter whistle-blower laws, some politicians are bound to take aim at the US state department and the harried ranks of exposed diplomats.
Well, Wikileaks may have revealed diplomacy at its most raw but the fragmented, messy new world order of today also demands their skills more than ever before in recent memory. The trouble with North Korea, the headaches over Ireland and Spain, the arm-twisting over Iran, all require the deft hand of diplomats who know how to mediate, sweet talk, negotiate and threaten without insult or injury. That takes skill and, as we now know, a better firewall.