Diplomacy, any West Wing watcher will tell you, is never what it seems on the surface. The pageantry of the US ambassador telling a local media outlet (News24) that SA provided weapons to Russia would have been well rehearsed.

Teams at the US state department will have done the game theoretic analysis to plot out SA’s response: an “inquiry” to kick into the long grass, much indignation, say of apologies but non-apologies. The objective, it seems to me, was to set the cat among the domestic pigeons to try to get SA’s institutions to take seriously the country’s odd dalliance with Russia's President Vladimir Putin. There is no doubt that something strange happened when the Lady R docked at Simon’s Town...

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