Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Do We Really Need to Know This?

As I comb through online news articles about the latest WikiLeaks disclosures, I keep on asking myself: what was the purpose of this round of disclosure beyond embarrassing the U.S. and causing more discord in increasingly difficult diplomatic times? Is WikiLeaks anything more than a vehicle through which disgruntled employees wreak havoc on their current/former employers?

Does it surprise anyone that there are unflattering descriptions of world leaders and other countries positions – even a country's allies – in any country’s archives?

Forthright assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of the various players and situations in world politics are in fact some of the most important tools any country has in its diplomatic bag of tricks. However in the past these time honoured traditions would not come to light for a sufficient period of time after the immediate situation so as to permit crises to resolve – for better or for worse - without these distractions.

How has deterring the current nuclear situations in North Korea and Iran been better served by the recent WikiLeaks publications? Isn’t this just going to enflame the situation by feeding their paranoia?

The fact that everyone is spying on everyone else to gather some of this information should also not be surprising. Spying is after all one of the world’s oldest “professions”.

Does the fact that CSIS – or any spy agency for that matter - think that it is “hamstrung” by the rule of law actually a revelation to anyone? Again I hope not; and I also hope that the courts world wide continue to play a strong role in reigning in the desires of secretive organizations to run amok.

I am all for appropriate protected whistle blowing that sheds light on illegal activities. Turning the spotlight on malfeasance, particularly when it is being carried out by governments that purport to adhere to higher standards, is an admirable pursuit.

But so far, this round of disclosure WikiLeaks has not done this, nor has it served the better good.

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