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Sunday, December 5, 2010

U.S. Diplomacy and Wikileaks Outrage

  The Wikileaks release of secret and confidential U.S. diplomatic cables has been far less embarrassing than many would have assumed. Certainly there are some diplomats who are bumblers: How can there not be when many ambassadorships are given out after each presidential election based on campaign contributions or political debts of one sort or another? But what is most surprising to me is the largely high-quality level of political analysis contained in many of the cables, and the frankness with which it is presented. That's refreshing. (See Hillary Clinton's comments on this here.)
  In Latin America, the most striking cable was from U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens in Honduras in the immediate aftermath of the coup by the Honduras military and conservative political leadership. Radicals throughout the region blamed the U.S. for backing the coup. That was nonsense, and the Llorens cable was a clear condemnation of the illegality of the removal of Manuel Zelaya from the country. (see this analysis of the Honduras cable). Only when the issue got politicized and became a political football in the U.S. Congress, with Republicans and others pushing for the U.S. to back conservatives in Honduras, did the whole mess go awry. 
  It used to be that there were so many foreign journalists in the field that diplomats often would read our reports in order to better inform themselves, even about countries or issues, events or personalities for whom they were responsible. Today, however, well-informed foreign correspondents are few and far between, and editors and journalists around the world are reading State Department cables to find out what's really happening. That's a worrisome trend, since government sources always are to be viewed with appropriate skepticism. Another sign of the changing times.
  One thing that has not changed is the motivation behind Wikileaks' release of the documents, and that of his supporters. It seems clear to me that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is an anarchist who believes that all government is bad and that undermining the actions of government is akin to a heroic act. Not since the early years of the 20th century, before the Russian Revolution and World War I, has anarchism had such a following around the world and anarchists such an impact on world events. Anarchists will take pride in that; the rest of us should shudder.

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