Monday, November 29, 2010

So, Wot's Gnu?

The unveiling of thousands of classified documents by WikiLeaks has garnered a lot of media attention and no little amount of embarrassment for the United States. All the new revelations as they are reported receive plenty of breathless commentary, and people strain to find interesting tidbits of information here and there to enlighten themselves about arcane, behind-the-scenes activities of their governments and how they are perceived through the random comments of U.S. diplomats reporting to home base.

But really, what's new? The revelations are interesting, but they are not new. Where before there was conjecture and hypothesis, and unproven allegations, and theories that seemed reasonable to explain events and occurrences, there are now further conjectures, and hypotheses, and unproven allegations and theories. What we are reading, after all, are only commentaries by U.S. diplomats; how they interpret what they see and experience.

It is largely embarrassing because of their having succumbed to the easy comfort of gossip and personal descriptions of principals with whom they find fault in one way or another. They also divulge to their masters data that they have picked up from various sources, some of which has been or will be corroborated, some of which cannot be. So they're still in the arena of allegations and theories until proven otherwise.

On the other hand, there is some danger, and much mischief in disclosing the contents of documents that are meant to be shielded from public view. A nation's security and intelligence is placed in jeopardy and where's the sense of that? What, really, is the purpose of all of this disclosure? Whom will it benefit? Well, there might be an improvement in the calibre of response from diplomatic sources abroad to headquarters.

Other than that, was it previously unknown that Syria was channelling new and improved armaments to Hezbollah, when the U.S. had pledged to Israel that it would undertake to prevent this from occurring, to persuade Israel to withdraw from its onslaught against Hezbollah in Lebanon? Was it unknown that Afghanistan's lawmakers were enriching themselves with the profits from drugs, and siphoning off of international aid money?

Was it unknown that Yemen's government did not want to be seen by the rest of the Islamic and the Arab world as being too heavily involved with the United States' efforts to bring down the al-Qaeda elements in that country for fear of reprisals? And wasn't it well enough scuttle-butted that the Obama administration was anxiously trying to persuade its allies to resettle Guantanamo Bay inmates?

The fact that Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-majority Arab countries in the Middle East were fearful of Iran's acquiring of nuclear weapons, leading them to hope that Israel and/or the United States would act pre-emptively and bomb the nuclear installations to relax their fears was pretty well known and extensively reported. American suspicion of United Nations' top officials is well documented, so what's new in those revelations of information-assembly?

That the United States, South Korea, Japan and other stake-holders in peace in south-east Asia would prefer a re-unified Korea with the fervently-hoped-for implosion of North Korea can be no secret to anyone. In light of which, although there are admittedly far more documents to be unveiled and distributed for public display, where are all the startling new revelations?

WikiLeaks has managed to make a reputation for itself. At what cost? And really, what's the point?

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