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Brief Wikileaks Addendum

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I generally agree with Charli that there’s not much to particularly shock about the latest set of revelations (while also acknowledging that I haven’t gone through everything).  I think that this is primarily going to be of interest to diplomatic historians, who normally don’t get this kind of stuff for years and years and years and years.  If any political scientists actually studied stuff like diplomatic cables, it might also be of interest to them.  For my own part, I was mildly surprised by the directness of Saudi entreaties to the US to attack Iran, and also by the degree of contempt that the US diplomats seemed to hold for the current Turkish government.  Most of the rest appears to be primarily embarrassing to the foreign governments in question.

In terms of political impact, I’m deeply skeptical that this release is going to be “good for progressives,” so to speak.  The neocons are quite literally cackling over the revelations of anti-Iranian attitudes in the Arab world, as well as a variety of cables critical of Russia and Turkey.  I’m also pretty skeptical that this release will incline the United States government to make more information publicly available in the future.  Bureaucracies don’t seem to react to attacks in that manner; I suspect that the State Department will rather act to radically reduce access to such material in order to prevent future leaks.

Finally, having just worked my way through a negotiation simulation, I am kind of fascinated by the idea of “open” diplomatic communications.  Diplomats lie to each other habitually, and also lie to their (portions of) their home governments.  Nobody takes this too seriously, because no one expects diplomats to tell the truth.  If Wikileaks and organizations of its ilk are really able to peel the layers of secrecy off the diplomatic world, it could potentially have far ranging effects on how nations relate to one another.  Or maybe not.

See also Marc Lynch.

…and Henry Farrell on the value of lies in diplomacy.

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