4 December 2010

The Meaning of the Wikileaks leaks

The US embassy cables put into the public domain by Wikileaks do not contain any top secret intelligence and hardly tell us anything that we did not already suspect. Nevertheless, they are important in two ways: first, they are highly embarrassing to the US, so those who oppose US imperial power around the world can enjoy the Schadenfreude; and second – and more importantly – they provide evidence for much of what the left has previously believed to be true.

For me the most interesting is the confirmation of the utter subservience of the British government (both New Labour and the Coalition) to US interests. The constant and repeated mendacity of Blair-Brown government is well illustrated; for instance in deceiving the electorate and parliament on matters such as the outlawing of cluster bombs for PR purposes while clandestinely allowing the US to continue to hold them on British soil.

That Liam Fox gave full details of planned military procurement to the US Embassy hardly raises as eyebrow. Yet it is interesting to note that when the cables revealed that a FDP official had given details of the coalition negotiations in Germany to US diplomats, he lost his job within hours.

Will the publication of these cables do long term harm to the US? I don’t think so. If three million Americans with security clearance had access to this data base, we can be sure the information therein was already common knowledge in Paris, Moscow and Peking. Certainly, publication will force those wanting to cooperate with the US to think twice before opening their mouths to US diplomats, but overall the cables prove something very favourable to the US: for the most part US embassies function properly and orderly in promoting US interests around the world.

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