- December 17, 2010
- 8 minutes read
Another Look at Wikileaks – America the Indispensable?
The revelations of Wikileaks has had little impact on US policy or diplomacy, despite all the analysis and headlines. Only a handful of the cables actually contain information that reveals secret deals of government leaders and their cronies.
But what we see most from the cables’ messages being delivered is a bit of gossip and factual reporting back to Washington of mostly mundane diplomatic events. In fact, much of what is contained in the cables could be quickly accessed upon request under the US Freedom of Information Act – it is perhaps a matter of knowing how to access the information and what to be looking for.
The outstanding public response to the leaks shows that many people believe governments spend their time hatching plots and concocting conspiracies and the leaks are a way to ‘prove’ what they believed all along. Julian Assange believes that authoritarian rule is maintained by conspiracies and that by unveiling the conspiracies, that rule can be broken down.
According to Assanges’s criteria, the effectiveness of the leaks should be judged according to how many conspiracies the leaks have exposed to public scrutiny. What is obvious from the leaks, and perhaps this is where their real value lie, is that they provide some confirmation of things we already had ample grounds to suspect. For example, the leaks give specific evidence that the Yemeni government is prepared to lie openly about US missile strikes on its territory, claiming that these strikes were conducted by the Yemeni, not the US military. Another example of a leak this is hardly surprising, is that Sunni Arab leaders are urging the US to get rid of the Iranian leader, even if it means allowing US ground forces into Iran. Egypt is also revealed to have blocked Iran’s efforts to smuggle weapons to Hamas, using a supply line in Sudan.
One repetitive theme throughout the cables is that many countries assume the US can solve their problems. In other words, it seems that some nations do not mind turning a blind eye to US inconsistencies if it does the ‘dirty work’ for them, like the Arab countries rebuking Iran but having no plan of how they will deal directly with their neighbour, even though publicly they opposed the action. The Prime Minister of Qatar remarked: “They (the Iranians) lie to us and we lie to them.”
Many things that people had read about or heard about but were held as conjecture, now, thanks to Wikileaks, appears in print and because America ‘says so’ it has a stamp of approval; is believed to be true and authentic. This gives rise to the irony of Wikileaks; that the US is seen as an indispensable nation – the final word; the last resort. The final irony is that the word of the US is being believed at a time, when Americans are being told by their own pundits that their day of imperial dominance is over. This is apparently not quite true.
Wikileaks, if read like a juicy gossip magazine, will do little to produce positive change in the world. As the information flows, it depends on what we, the people, do with it.