...are just what the doctor ordered! As the television pundits repeatedly state, all the diplomats are already aware of this kind of behaviour happening on a daily basis. If at this point you have no idea what I'm banging on about, you'd best check out the story that's making the enthroned quake in their boots!
http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/ (Actual source)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11858990 (Multiple analyses)
Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State for the United States of America yesterday claimed that the unprecedented large-scale release of classified embassy material and communicae, acquired from a military leak...somehow...was "an attack on the international community." [BBC] I find it amazing that a country that has for decades championed democracy and free speech would react in such a fiery fashion. But then, this really has nothing to do with democracy or free speech. No, this feels much more like a window into a world that we as regular folk don't get to see or hear of all that often. And I think that fascinates us. That which which was once the reserve of the precious select few is now blown wide open. The aged oak doors of international diplomacy, in-jokes from shared educational experience and the colossal bitchiness of those who would profess to be the measured and rational versions of our most intelligent of elected selves have been opened. And I like it. We like it.
Yes, the coverage was fairly short I'll accept that. But it seems that only a day on, the battered reputation of Wikileaks and its founder has been allowed to recover. Instead, new diplomatic lines are being drawn, rules of verbal engagement rewritten and mouthy representatives chastised. Backstabbing comments, secret opinions and virtual How To guidebooks for the leaders of the world are not really the cause of the uproar or the subsequent political re-evaluations going on - it seems far more likely that the catalyst is us as people, as commonfolk getting hold of this information. The fact that the public now knows means there is no longer any mystique behind diplomacy - or at the very least it has been significantly reduced - and so it almost seems like anyone could do it! Those very same rational and measured individuals (only some of whom are elected of course) have been exposed as...drum roll please...people.
Plain people. People who like to hate, to gorge on gossip, to relish in the glow of schadenfreude. People who curse, who slander, who despise their opposite number for the most trivial of reasons. People who are "cocky" and "verging on the rude," who enjoy parties or even who occasionally, from time to time enjoy the company of a fair haired nurse with enormous breasts. Secretary Clinton, in charge of the body from which most of the leaked documents come, is in fact scared. The Republicans who want to put Wikileaks in the same bed as Al Q'aeda are in fact scared. The accusation that lives are put at risk is as fearful a comment as it is baseless. Diplomacy with China jeopardised? Malcolm Rifkind is shivering too - although that might just be from the cold snap in the UK.
No, what we have here in my humble opinion is a window into the world of diplomacy. Whilst this is not directly about free speech and democracy, it is incident enough to remind us how quick we are to seize upon the comments of our diplomats when really, they are just human and we cannot hold them in such high regard - it is unsustainable, even for the saintliest of them. Who amongst us can honestly say in dealing with some of the tyrants, thieves and fools that govern our nations that we wouldn't identify their worst qualities, giving us that social power that we all crave and exercise in our own daily lives. "That Deidre from accounting, what a jerk!"
In truth we can't do their job at all, and it is a little sad that the politicians and diplomats involved in this case as well as those outside of it feel threatened by us knowing what is little more than a colourful selection of profiles. But...in contrast to almost the entirety of this blog entry, I believe this to be little more than a thinly disguised planned leak. We're getting them more and more often now, especially in the UK. USB sticks left in cars, on the train and in public places; CDs just lying around for a disillusioned soldier to obtain and upload. Because it would be a soldier wouldn't it. Who believes a greedy hacker over a valiant soldier, hands up? I'm not saying Wikileaks is a government facade...but...this is too good to true...without actually being good at all. It's all personal, there's nothing new, it's big but empty, there's little substance and now...doesn't everybody feel just great about the power we have over our states using the digital tools.
Doesn't everybody just feel so...powerful? And what's even better is that the previously stagnant diplomatic landscape is getting a cute little makeover. Progress is nice when it takes us all along with it.