What WikiLeaks does, is inhabit the cracks in our democracy and their revelations hold up a mirror to those in authority and shows us all their true selves, speaking truth to power. For those, such as Rennie’s dining companion, who inhabit the world of the elite, courtesy of the taxpayer, we can see just how arrogant and out of date they are. Apart from the obvious, that if these guys were so good, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in.
—SADDAM WISHED TO CONVEY AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO
PRESIDENT BUSH: IRAQ WANTS FRIENDSHIP, BUT DOES
THE USG? IRAQ SUFFERED 100,000’S OF CASUALTIES
AND IS NOW SO POOR THAT WAR ORPHAN PENSIONS WILL
SOON BE CUT; YET RICH KUWAIT WILL NOT EVEN ACCEPT
OPEC DISCIPLINE. IRAQ IS SICK OF WAR, BUT KUWAIT
HAS IGNORED DIPLOMACY. USG MANEUVERS WITH THE UAE
WILL ENCOURAGE THE UAE AND KUWAIT TO IGNORE
CONVENTIONAL DIPLOMACY. IF IRAQ IS PUBLICLY
HUMILIATED BY THE USG, IT WILL HAVE NO CHOICE
BUT TO “RESPOND,” HOWEVER ILLOGICAL AND SELF
DESTRUCTIVE THAT WOULD PROVE.
Americans like to believe in American exceptionalism, that the United States is a force for good around the world, not just another country pursuing its interests via geopolitical horse-trading. This is part of why there is such a visceral public backlash against WikiLeaks — because it lays bare U.S. diplomacy in all its blunt, unromantic reality.
WikiLeaks should be treated by our government as a terrorist organization, their goal from the start has been to damage the U.S standing in the world as the super power. For average Americans, lives are not yet directly impacted by the leaks, but the goal of the sites founder Julian Assange is to strip us of our credibility, and put us on the road to becoming a less powerful nation. Releasing classified documents is infuriating enough, but to have it masterminded by someone in another country screams espionage, and Assange should be captured, punished, and made an example of. Lives have been put in danger, and American diplomats, as well as our allies, have been compromised.
Asked if he saw Assange as closer to a high-tech terrorist than the whistleblower who released the Pentagon papers in the 1970s, which disclosed the lie on which US involvement in Vietnam was based, Biden replied: “I would argue it is closer to being a high-tech terrorist than the Pentagon papers. “But, look, this guy has done things that have damaged and put in jeopardy the lives and occupations of people in other parts of the world. “He’s made it more difficult for us to conduct our business with our allies and our friends. For example, in my meetings – you know I meet with most of these world leaders – there is a desire now to meet with me alone, rather than have staff in the room. It makes things more cumbersome – so it has done damage.”
In U.S. elite media, the main revelation of the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables is that the U.S. government conducts its foreign policy in a largely admirable fashion. These conclusions represent an extraordinarily narrow reading of the WikiLeaks cables, of which about 1,000 have been released (contrary to constant media claims that the website has already released 250,000 cables). Some of the more explosive revelations, unflattering to U.S. policymakers, have received less attention in U.S. corporate media. Among the revelations that, by any sensible reading, show U.S. diplomatic efforts of considerable concern.
In Ellsberg’s day, it took nearly a year to photocopy the 7,000-page Pentagon papers and most of another year to get excerpts published. The push-button model of WikiLeaks compresses the timeline radically and permits the universal broadcast of voluminous archives in full, so much so that leak hardly seems to suffice as a metaphor. This year’s breach of containment spilled nearly half a million documents, including 76,607 military reports from Afghanistan, 391,832 from Iraq and, beginning Nov. 28, a stream of diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks says will eventually number 251,287.
Diplomatic relations have always been a matter of common interests and wether or not country leaders were on the same page. Of course diplomacy needs subtlety which in turns needs discretion, but I don’t really think it needs obscurity. Why would it ? Why would a diplomat need obscurity when he is suppose to represent (indirectly of course) his people (ideally in a transparent way) ? The answer is quite simple : because diplomats act in a way that would not be tolerated in a democratic country !
Everyone wonders how WikiLeaks will change the world. Will diplomacy become impracticable in an age when everyone everywhere knows everything? That seems unlikely, but the possibility that any given assessment or policy could become known will hugely increase the cost of doing something that must remain hidden. This, in turn, will put a premium on being able to publicly justify and explain what you’re doing. Would that be such a terrible outcome?