Archive for November, 2010

Slipping Through the Net – the Wikileaks Impact

November 30, 2010 Leave a comment

‘There is nothing laudable about endangering innocent people, and there is nothing brave about sabotaging peaceful relations between nations on which our common security depends’, Hilary Clinton

‘The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure’, Thomas Jefferson

Julian Assange has been compared to a true-life Jason Bourne, a comparison he does little to downplay. A John Pilger, Woodward and Bernstein all rolled into one for the cyber age, he has consistently wrong footed the World’s only remaining Superpower. Traveling undercover, in constant fear of arrest (or worse), the Wikileaks Chief bears an uncanny resemblance to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium hero Mikael Blomquist as he seeks to, in his mind, uncover corruption, lies and state abuses being done in the name of freedom. The recent Guardian leads, and their Investigative Editor David Leigh says there are ‘scores of stories’ to come, show how the US State Department has behaved like diplomats throughout the ages – speaking out of both sides of their mouths while lying for their country abroad.

These leaks are highly problematic for the US establishment as they reveal the Emperor to be a lot more naked than was always assumed. From a country where technological security has always been a given, this series of leaks is astonishing. It is also remarkable that the US Foreign Service literally gets its diplomats to report back on anything and everything including Prince Andrew Windsor behaving like an idiot (is this news/intelligence?).

There are some extraordinary claims within this vast release. Chief among the revelations is the US perception that China is ready to ditch her long-term support for ally and original rogue nation, North Korea. The timing is also remarkable: North Korea’s military adventuring is scaring the hell out of their neighbours right now. We’re left with the question, is internal instability among this loose cannon state more or less preferable than the current political situation? Are the Chinese, to paraphrase the UK Government line on Northern Ireland, tilting towards having no ‘selfish or strategic’ interest in the future of their wretched erst-while comrades? What does it all mean for regional stability and, by implication, all our futures?

The Middle Eastern genie has been well and truly let lose from the bottle. In summary, ‘Despots want war with other Despot’. The appalling human rights record from both the Arab monarchies and Israel has been documented for years. What hasn’t been on the record is how much the Saudis really fear an Iranian bomb. The duplicity of this cruel regime was never in question, but now we have clear evidence of the Saudis wanting to destabilise the region even more. The US did well not to be hooked in on this one.

America Inc will try to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted and seek to restructure an obviously grossly inadequate system of diplomatic communications. The State Department has always, like most foreign corps, got up to murky business. The worry is that the activities of the US Government abroad will taint the Obama administration at home. Obama will be seeking to ramp up his foreign policy goals in the next two years; this leak could cause havoc with his agenda. Long term: better not to shoot the messenger but to align public and private statements and policy making. Robin Cook talked of an ethical foreign policy; these leaks show just how far a big power has to go to achieve this when playing the great game.


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