Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Wikileaks: All I have to say on the subject...

Is that the current set of leaked documents do not unveil any government wrongdoing that requires public exposure to be redressed. What they do, however, is make it much harder for diplomats to actually do the difficult work of preventing wars and easing international tensions. Our diplomatic corps are heroes, in my eyes. And whilst it is certainly very interesting to know that China - for instance - might be open to allowing the reuinification of North and South Korea, it is also deeply saddening to realise that the exposure of these views now makes it far less likely that any deal could be struck to make this happen. The prospect of peacefully defusing some of the threat from one of the world's most deadly nuclear aspirants strikes me as a compelling public interest and a great example of the kind of thing that diplomacy can do as long as it remains in the category of a closely held secret.

So I do not agree with Julian Assanage's simple-minded "More transparency always makes the world better," viewpoint. Some things worth doing can only be done in secret, and he has done no one in the world any favours by making that work impossible. Alas.

That does not mean I'm against transparency - or that all leaks are bad. If there is criminal or unethical activity it shoudl be exposed, and if public servants are wasteful or ineffective that should be known. But these documents seem to show nothing but US diplomats doing effective and difficult work and providing honest, candid advice. A shame that such advice will be virtually impossible to draft in future.

2 comments:

Josh Feldberg said...
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Josh Feldberg said...

The problem is: how and who determines what is 'unethical'?

For instance, US army generals probably don't think it was unethical to drop depleted uranium on Fallujah but others would disagree. So who then decides what should or shouldn't be exposed? it can barely be the governments if they're the ones who orchestrate the atrocities.