Read all about it!

Stop the presses, read all about it!  Saudi Arabia does not like Iran! The Royal Family are prone to gaffes! Mr Putin is really in charge of Russia and no one likes America and they don’t care! I have not read any of the top secret cables published by wikileaks on the web, and I do not expect to read any. Many of them from the present reports seem to be statements of the bleeding obvious.

There are over a quarter of a million communications which will be disseminated to the press but only 15,000 of them are secret. There are another 100,000 cables which are classified as “confidential”. At the time of writing wikileaks has only published 200 of these communications on its web site.

The problem with such indiscriminate disclosure is that news media, in search of headlines, will distort what has been written, because even though the words may be accurately quoted, the context of the communications must be analysed before you can understand what the words really mean. I expect that even in the world of diplomacy secret communications are often not true. The communicator may be positioning, for example, rather like the ordinary bargaining process with which we are familiar.

Can any bad come of the disclosures? Some nations maintain that the lives of those who spy for them may have been put at risk. The United States claims that the lives of some of their diplomats may now be in peril. I hope not. I doubt it.

All this information sooner or later seems to end up in the public domain; perhaps this may result in nations spying on each other less and criticising each other less. I do not think that it will come as news that certain world leaders do not respect each other or that certain nations are at loggerheads. It was always thus.

I have never understood the benefit of covert operations. Do they really ever achieve anything? It is easy to make claims about the success of covert diplomacy but the claims are never substantiated, rather like claims about the success of torture – easy to make but impossible to prove.

Many individual politicians and nations will be embarrassed by some of the disclosures. It is not a bad thing that exposure of untoward conduct results in embarrassing those who have behaved badly. Politicians behaving badly? Surely not –another headline about the sins of our servants.

There is every point in keeping diplomacy confidential for a period of time, but if all the diplomats and their political masters knew disclosure was inevitable perhaps they will adjust their diplomacy so that it is more transparent in future. It may not be a bad thing if we were less obsessed with secrets and more concerned with providing fair outcomes, as opposed to asserting what we believe to be our national interests.

It must be in everyone’s interest that diplomats can report their findings to their governments in confidence, so that they can honestly appraise the situation in places where they are based. But confidentiality and secrecy are not the same thing.

The lesson to be learned is that information that is reduced to an electronic format is easy to steal and easier to publish. I doubt if any of the secrets will surprise us. So far, the secrets seem less like matters of world importance and more like school yard gossip.

3 Responses

  1. Yet another goon show for the populous to get their uneducated teeth into, nothing will come of this fiasco on the ridiculous, the people in power are telling you what they want you to hear nothing else.

    In these times of downturn where many home grown companies have taken away and deskilled the major manufacturing based countries for their vested profits and then also run and hide from the taxes by taking their accounts to the Swiss carrots, IE

    Barclays have just saved their investors about a billion pounds this year by taking their account to an 8% instead of a UK 28% tax bracket, loosing our government valuble earnings, guess who foots the tax bill difference once again.

    To see the tax farm is to leave it behind as they say and bugger the poor people who remain to pay their way out of the balance with very little left to do so.

    15 years from now in our united states of Europe we will surely be in the deepest of poverty, which could last for about another 20 years just like the old Soviet model did before it also collapsed, time will tell I suppose.

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