The Destructive Power of WikiLeaks

Posted: November 26, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

How destructive will the WikiLeaks fallout prove to be? It could be bad. From the Washington Post:

“Without getting into specifics, typical cables describe summaries of meetings, analysis of events in other countries and records of confidential conversations with officials of other governments and with members of civil society,” Crowley said. “They are classified for a very good reason. They contain sensitive information and reveal sources of information that impact our national interests and those of other countries.”

Crowley is State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. And with a few specifics stuck in, it gets worse. Much worse.

The cables could also show that allies sometimes take private actions that directly contradict publicly declared policies. The London-based daily al-Hayat reported that WikiLeaks is planning to release files that show Turkey has helped al-Qaeda in Iraq – and that the United States has helped the PKK, a Kurdish rebel organization. The documents reportedly suggest that the U.S. has supported the PKK, which has been waging a separatist war against Turkey since 1984 and has been classified by the State Department as a terrorist organization since 1979.

So what is the most powerful nation in the world left to do? To issue what’s effectively a non-state demarche.

“We condemn what WikiLeaks is doing,” Crowley said. “Its actions are gratuitous, harm relations among countries and erode the trust that enables governments to cooperate and collaborate and work together to resolve regional and global challenges. Little good will come from what WikiLeaks has indicated it plans to do.”

There may be less public actions, but if there aren’t, this is a pretty toothless response.

  1. Coyote says:

    The real problem with Wikileaks is not obvious–and it is a point that is lost in the public discussion. It is hardly a revelation that international relations are not the songs of joy that politicians and diplomats paint them to be. Whatever “truths” Wikileaks reveals will not surprise the vast majority of politicians, diplomats, or members of the intelligence and security communities in any country. They generally know what is going or suspect such. They wear their smiles in public and do photo ops with their enemies to reassure the public. Meanwhile, they work dire issues behind the scenes–keeping a business-as-usual wrapper on state affairs. Any student of history knows this is what responsible governments do. It prevents war while it promotes stably. This point is lost on the Wikileaks community. They target the very elements that provide transparency to politicians that enable peaceful, diplomatic solutions to problems. Or are they just trying to make trouble? Trouble for whom? At whose bidding? (Hmmm… Worthwhile questions that will not be addressed here, no matter how obvious the answers.)

    The real problem with Wikileaks, however, is twofold. First, conspiracy theorists will use disparate information out of context and with insufficient analysis for the purpose of inciting an uproar among their audience. Second, there are no assurances that whatever is posted on Wikileaks are actual government documents. Foreign intelligence operatives (or high school hackers) could easily slip bogus documents into Wikileaks that seemingly reveal everything from the real location of Elvis, to subtle documents that will foment riots and revolutions, stimulate terrorist activities, and otherwise distract people from their peaceful daily lives.

    Wikileaks itself will become a mechanism for manipulating the public instead of informing them.

    But as all academics know, never cite any Wiki source. They are unreliable.

  2. Rogue says:

    We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty, and friends dissent is the greatest act of patriotism!

    • Coyote says:


      Nor should we confuse criminal anarchists and foreign intelligence operatives for patriots–or characterise either as noble.

      The paradox is that the Wikileaks disclosures do not undermine the brute force of the military instrument. Instead, they undermine the subtle opportunities for diplomacy, international partnering, and other elements of softer power to avert war and make a better, safer world.

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