WikiLeaks documents: five world leaders disparaged by US diplomats

World leaders back-slap like old friends at summit meetings. But behind the bonhomie they may be judging each other with the brutal candor of high school students sizing up rivals.

3. Germany's Angela Merkel

Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters/File
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a party convention in Karlsruhe, Germany November 15.

German Chancellor Merkel may be a woman from a center-right party in charge of an important US ally, but any comparison with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ends there. Unlike Ms. Thatcher, who was decisive to a fault when in power, Chancellor Merkel is risk-averse, according to cables released by WikiLeaks.

For instance, at the end of 2006, former US Ambassador to Germany William Timken wrote in a confidential message to the State Department that Merkel “has not taken bold steps yet to improve the substantive content of the relationship.”

As an analysis by the German publication Der Spiegel notes, “that is not exactly high praise.”

Merkel gets off easy compared to German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, though. In a cable, current US envoy to Berlin Philip Murphy says that Westerwelle's thoughts “were short on substance.”

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