that’s what diplomacy is, isn’t it?

The Economist weighs in on the latest WikiLeaks “whistle-blowing” that tries to serve up vignettes from the standard global diplomacy dance with a hefty slathering of ZOMG TEH SEEKRITS clandestine sauce.  (Who knew that our diplomats don’t divulge the same information to all their foreign counterparts?  Shocking, that.)

Money paragraph:

At this point, what WikiLeaks is doing seems like tattling: telling Sally what Billy said to Jane. It’s sometimes possible that Sally really ought to know what Billy said to Jane, if Billy were engaged in some morally culpable deception. But in general, we frown on gossips. If there’s something particularly damning in the diplomatic cables WikiLeaks has gotten a hold of, the organisation should bring together a board of experienced people with different perspectives to review the merits of releasing that particular cable. But simply grabbing as many diplomatic cables as you can get your hands on and making them public is not a socially worthy activity.



9 thoughts on “that’s what diplomacy is, isn’t it?

  1. MarkHB says:

    You know, anyone who speaks up against Big Government should have nothing but praise for WikiLeaks. I’ll be honest – I have big hum-haws about their policies, but also, by the same token – what else can bring Government to heel like the truth?

    I don’t like secrets, and I don’t like lies. I’m a scientist by nature, and an artist by career. Neither of these things respond well to bullshit. I have little patience with the extant powerstructure which is, you know, built on bullshit.

  2. LittleRed1 says:

    Wasn’t there a kerfuffle in England a few years ago when one of Her Majesty’s diplomats was found to have said unflattering (but not disputed things) about the government and representatives of another country? It seems to me that this is a lot like that. And this AM “Squawk Box” announced that Assange says he will release a pile of documents from a major bank after the New Year. *shrug* I guess fed docs are getting boring.

  3. scott says:

    They may not be hugely significant, but if you have the documents, it would be irresponsible to keep them secret. Speak the truth, shame the devil government?

    • Marko Kloos says:

      So if my brother sends me an email and tells me that Mom’s new hairdo makes her look like an idiot, and you read that email over my shoulder, would it be irresponsible of you to not forward that email to my Mom?

      • perlhaqr says:

        There is, IMO, a significant difference in the amount of privacy an individual should be able to expect in their communications, versus a government in theirs.

        • TimP says:

          I’m going to have to bring up the D-Day secrets here. Would a British citizen that found out that the actual D-Day invasion was to be in Normandy be in the wrong for revealing this to anyone who would listen? If yes it just become a discussion about what sort of secrets the government should be allowed to keep. Not embarassing the diplomats you are negotiating with seems to be rather important to diplomatic success, so if you believe that diplomacy is a legitimate role of government it necessarily follows that keeping at least some diplomatic negotiations secret is a power that the government needs to have, and someone who reveals diplomatic secrets without a good reason is doing the wrong thing.

      • scott says:

        No, revealing information about the Normandy landing would be neither right nor wrong. As with anyone else, a government is free to try to keep secrets, but once someone else finds out, continuing to keep the secret is her prerogative.
        It absolutely does not follow that suppressing free speech is right (I really don’t like moral language, but it’s being thrown around a lot, so why not) simply because governments need to talk to each other.

  4. Al Terego says:

    “…not a socially worthy activity.”

    What the fuck has that got to do with it? Follow the money!

    The world is full of whores and hustlers who will sell or do anything for fame and/or fortune…and I’m not sure a capitalist libertarian can fault that. So maybe it would be a good idea for gov to keep sensitive information out of the hands of privates and hackable data files.

    If you don’t want somebody to take your shit and sell it for crack, lock your door and keep your piece handy.


  5. MarkHB says:

    It utterly breaks my heart that the last US company to fold like Origami to a phone call from a Congresscritter was Dynamic Network Services of Manchester, New Hampshire.

    “Live Free Or Die Unless We Get A Call From A Congressman In Which Case Fuck You”

    This. Fucking. Sucks. Ten years and half of this thing’s gone. Another ten years and the Great Experiment will be over.

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