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The truth behind secret diplomacy

For all Washington’s outrage at Wikileak’s publication of hundreds of thousands of hitherto secret diplomatic cables from America’s embassies around the world, they confirm much that was already known.

Who doubted that the United States has ever-so cosy relations with Israel at the expense of the Palestinians and that none of the cables published so far mention the continuing suffering in Gaza resulting from the vice-like blockade?

Or that the US spies on the United Nations?

The tittle-tattle gossip about various world leaders says more about the low level of “analysis” made by US embassy staff than anything else. No wonder the United States has been way behind just about every major international change in recent decades.

They were sleeping when the Shah of Iran was overthrown by a popular uprising in 1979 and failed to detect the changes in the Soviet Union in the early 1980s. More recently, the absence of a coherent analysis left the United States vulnerable to the attack on the twin towers in 2001. Ironically, the latest Wikileaks releases were made possible by Washington’s decision after the 9.11 failure to pull together in digital form all diplomatic communications from its embassies and link them to the Pentagon.

Clearly there are insiders in the US State Department who believe that the public has a right to know about these cables. And they are correct. You may ask: what has secret diplomacy ever done for us? Behind closed doors, diplomats and states have prepared for war, using pretexts where necessary (before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, for example) and signed away the rights of smaller nations (Yalta and Potsdam at the end of World War II).

Diplomats, it is said, are sent abroad to lie for their countries. The real truth about American foreign policy will never appear in these kinds of cables. For example, to what extent is Washington involved in the current round of assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists?

Two scientists have been killed this year and others injured in highly-sophisticated attacks that have all the hallmarks of Mossad-CIA operations. These will be “deniable” attacks possibly carried out by third parties on behalf of Israel and the US. Perhaps they are the alternative to the full-scale military attack that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and others are demanding or the prelude.

The cables will certainly not reveal the illegal policy of systematic assassination of suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda personnel in the Afghan-Pakistan border area. These are carried out by unmanned drones and have resulted in “collateral damage”, including the deaths of many innocent women and children.

Nevertheless, the publication of the cables has wrong-footed Washington, in particular secretary of state Hillary Clinton. That can be no bad thing. You have to admire the courage of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. He is victim of a Swedish state frame-up and some US politicians want Wikileaks categorised as a “terrorist” website.

It is fitting that Ecuador has offered Assange "unconditional" residency in the country. Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas praised people like Assange "who are constantly investigating and trying to get light out of the dark corners of information". In the 1970s, Ecuador was destabilised by the CIA and a brutal military junta ruled until 1979. In September this year, President Rafael Correa was held hostage during an attempted coup d’état. No prizes for guessing who Ecuador’s politicians held responsible.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor
30 November 2010

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