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Debate: WikiLeaks release of US diplomatic cables

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Revision as of 22:47, 6 December 2010; Brooks Lindsay (Talk | contribs)
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Background and context

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Pro

  • Lying diplomatic cables needed to be shaken up. Kristinn Hrafnsson, Wikileaks spokesperson: "If global stability is based on deception and lies, maybe it needs a bit of a shaking up."[1]
  • Transparency is a valuable part of democracy. Kristinn Hrafnsson, Wikileaks spokesperson: "We believe that transparency is the basis of healthy democracy. It is one of the foundations of what we base our operation on. A world without secrets is a better world."[2]
  • Wikileaks release serves public interest of revealing US objectives. The New York Times: "the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match."[3]
  • Cables show (can counter) US spying, missteps, and corruption. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a November 2010 statement: "The cables show the U.S. spying on its allies and the U.N.; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in 'client states'; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries and lobbying for U.S. corporations."[4]
  • Cables reveal contradiction b/w US public and private statements. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a November 2010 statement: "reveals the contradictions between the U.S.'s public persona and what it says behind closed doors."[5]


Con

  • Wikileaks release is an assault on global democracy. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini recently stated that the WikiLeaks release could be considered the "September 11 of world democracy."[6]
  • Wikileaks release undermines trust and, thus, diplomacy. "WikiLeaks Starts Publishing US Cables, US Considering Legal Action." Metrolic. November 29th, 2010: "For short, they all agree that it wasn’t a good idea for Wikileaks to make public some very important documents that could seriously contribute to hostile relationships between the US and a lot of countries worldwide. The key ingredient to all relationships is trust. With the release of the cables you could say that the trust that’s essential to diplomacy has been broken. As Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan mentioned, shortly after describing the release as very damaging, a lot of countries, whether US allies or enemies, might ask themselves “Can the United States be trusted?” and might wonder if the country can keep a secret. Apparently it can’t since its top secret documents are readily available on the web, for anyone to read. There is a lot more that can be said regarding the US cables that just became available through WikiLeaks and we’ll probably be back with fresh reports."
  • IR depends on frank and private conversations within govts. Cameron Munter, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan. "Wikileaks - the U.S.-Pakistan Relationship." US Embassy in Pakistan. November 29th, 2010: "United States deeply regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be confidential. And we condemn it. Diplomats must engage in frank discussions with their colleagues, and they must be assured that these discussions will remain private. Honest dialogue-within governments and between them-is part of the basic bargain of international relations; we couldn't maintain peace, security, and international stability without it. I'm sure that Pakistan's ambassadors to the United States would say the same thing. They too depend on being able to exchange honest opinions with their counterparts in Washington and send home their assessments of America's leaders, policies, and actions."
  • Private reports do not represent official US policy. Cameron Munter, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan. "Wikileaks - the U.S.-Pakistan Relationship." US Embassy in Pakistan. November 29th, 2010: "I do believe that people of good faith recognize that diplomats' internal reports do not represent a government's official foreign policy. In the United States, they are one element out of many that shape our policies, which are ultimately set by the President and the Secretary of State. And those policies are a matter of public record, the subject of thousands of pages of speeches, statements, white papers, and other documents that the State Department makes freely available online and elsewhere."


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