Wikileaks made history on October 22, 2010, for making public the “391,832 reports (‘The Iraq War Logs‘), documenting the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army.”
They are making headlines again, bigger headlines I think, for starting to release secret U.S. embassy cables from around the world. The embassy cables give a rare insight into the minds of world diplomats – albeit reported through the eyes and ears of the U.S.. The Germany based Spiegel Online had this to say about the new leak (“WikiLeaks Diplomatic Cables“):
251,000 State Department documents, many of them secret embassy reports from around the world, show how the US seeks to safeguard its influence around the world. It is nothing short of a political meltdown for US foreign policy.
I certainly don’t think it will be a “meltdown.” It is probably more of a blow to the U.S.’s credibility within the U.S.’s borders in my opinion. That will not amount to mean much. Actually, the documents are probably damning for many of the parties the U.S. work with.
Media around the world are hovering over the thus leaked set of documents now (more to come gradually according to Wikileaks). Rather get their interpretations, you can read the materials yourself. You can follow the above link or search via Google. Example below:
site:cablegate.wikileaks.org Saudi Arabia
Or replace “Saudi Arabia” with “Korea” or with any other keyword or combination as you would a normal Google search.
MSNBC has many reactions (mainly from the U.S.) here of the leak here: “Watching the WikiLeaks release of diplomatic messages.”
On “the Iraq War Logs,” Spiegel assembled a team of 50 reporters and researchers to analyze. I have no doubt they will assemble a similar undertaking over the embassy reports. And, likewise for other media organizations around the globe.
Few more passages from the Spiegel article below:
Never before in history has a superpower lost control of such vast amounts of such sensitive information — data that can help paint a picture of the foundation upon which US foreign policy is built. Never before has the trust America’s partners have in the country been as badly shaken. Now, their own personal views and policy recommendations have been made public — as have America’s true views of them.
For example, one can learn that German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the Germany’s most beloved politician according to public opinion polls, openly criticizes fellow cabinet member Guido Westerwelle in conversations with US diplomats, and even snitches on him. Or that Secretary of State Clinton wants her ambassadors in Moscow and Rome to inform her whether there is anything to the rumors that Italian President Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin have private business ties in addition to their close friendship — whispers that both have vehemently denied.
America’s ambassadors can be merciless in their assessments of the countries in which they are stationed. That’s their job. Kenya? A swamp of flourishing corruption extending across the country. Fifteen high-ranking Kenyan officials are already banned from traveling to the United States, and almost every single sentence in the embassy reports speaks with disdain of the government of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Even after the fall of Saddam Hussein, it still remained a challenge for the victorious power to assert its will on Iraq. In Baghdad, which has seen a series of powerful US ambassadors — men the international press often like to refer to as American viceroys — it is now up to Vice President Joe Biden to make repeated visits to allied Iraqi politicians in an effort to get them to finally establish a respectable democracy. But the embassy cables make it very clear that Obama’s deputy has made little headway.
Instead, the Americans are forced to endure the endless tirades of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek, who claims to have always known that the Iraq war was the “biggest mistake ever committed” and who advised the Americans to “forget about democracy in Iraq.” Once the US forces depart, Mubarak said, the best way to ensure a peaceful transition is for there to be a military coup. They are statements that add insult to injury.
On the whole, the cables from the Middle East expose the superpower’s weaknesses. Washington has always viewed it as vital to its survival to secure its share of energy reserves, but the world power is often quickly reduced to becoming a plaything of diverse interests. And it is drawn into the animosities between Arabs and Israelis, Shiites and Sunnis, between Islamists and secularists, between despots and kings. Often enough, the lesson of the documents that have now been obtained, is that the Arab leaders use their friends in Washington to expand their own positions of power.
If you are interested in the U.S. relationship with China and Asia, I encourage you to search for “Korea”, “China”, “Japan”, or whatever suits you.
- How is the view of our world through the mass media different from the view through these diplomats?
- Are there ‘facts’ in the documents you find interesting?
- What are your thoughts in general?
The U.S. government has officially condemned the release of these documents. It is still entirely possible Wikileaks.org gets shut down in the near future.
Here is Wikileaks introduction to the leaked materials:
Wikileaks began on Sunday November 28th publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables, the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain. The documents will give people around the world an unprecedented insight into US Government foreign activities.
The cables, which date from 1966 up until the end of February this year, contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington DC. 15,652 of the cables are classified Secret.
The embassy cables will be released in stages over the next few months. The subject matter of these cables is of such importance, and the geographical spread so broad, that to do otherwise would not do this material justice.
The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in “client states”; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.
This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.
Every American schoolchild is taught that George Washington – the country’s first President – could not tell a lie. If the administrations of his successors lived up to the same principle, today’s document flood would be a mere embarrassment. Instead, the US Government has been warning governments — even the most corrupt — around the world about the coming leaks and is bracing itself for the exposures.
The full set consists of 251,287 documents, comprising 261,276,536 words (seven times the size of “The Iraq War Logs”, the world’s previously largest classified information release).
The cables cover from 28th December 1966 to 28th February 2010 and originate from 274 embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions.