Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tough Times For Diplomacy In Post - WikiLeaks World

Reuters published this article on January 30, 2011.

The World Economic Forum held a forum on WikiLeaks . The article is a recap of what happened at that event. Reuters reported that governments had been "profoundly spooked" by Cablegate.

"This has deeply shaken every U.S. foreign service officer and every ambassador," said one former U.S. diplomat.

I typed that quote into my spreadsheet of information. Next to the quote, I wrote the following note: Maybe I need to start looking through the cables more carefully. After I wrote that quote, I remember my government "telling" me something like, "Maybe you need to read what you've written more carefully." I took this to mean that what I had been writing was in the unreleased cables. Of course, as of yet, I have not made an appearance in those cables, at least not that I can find. On the other hand, WikiLeaks has only released a handful of the cables from the embassy in Tokyo. Had they released all of those cables, I might have made an appearance. I am very disappointed that WikiLeaks has not released those cables. I was hoping to make an appearance. But more importantly, I want to learn the truth.

At the forum, one European official said the incident had destroyed America's reputation for keeping a secret. This seems laughable, to say the least. America has released classified information as leverage against other nations for as long as I can remember. For a foreign official to say such a thing implies one of two things. Either that official is stupid, or he is not being honest. Ironically, at the forum, some officials from Europe and Asia said they would be a lot less frank with America after Cablegate. But from what I've seen, those cables haven't shown a whole lot of honesty from anyone. In other words, it's not like they were honest before WikiLeaks came along.

I am writing this post on May 6, 2011. If my memory is correct, Reuters altered this article somewhat since the original publish date.

If I remember correctly, the original article stated explicitly that Richard Haass, a former member of the National Security Council, believed that Cablegate had not harmed America while citizen journalism did make things difficult for people in his line of work. The new version of the article hints at this conclusion but doesn't state it explicitly. If I am right, this could be significant because I believe that Haass was referring to what I've been writing when he mentioned citizen journalism.

The other thing that has changed, if my memory is correct, is that the original version explicitly said that it was a European government (I forget which one, I think it was in Scandinavia), who tried to have a public discussion about policy on one of their websites. I believe the original article stated that an official from that country said that experiment had not worked out so well. This omission is significant as it removes the fact that a European government had argued, basically, against democracy.

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