There has been a furor in recent days when the data dump from Wikileaks finally made its way to diplomatic cables published by the United States Embassy in Manila. The premise of Wikileaks is to reveal government secrets. Where Deep Throat was crafted, and thoroughly researched, Wikileaks is raw, and without context. Like previous leaks from around the world, Philippine media awaited its availability, and jumping on it. The news media, whether traditional or social cover, and rightly so— the reaction of victims. That is the role of the news media; to report the news, and without a doubt, no matter what our opinion on and about Wikileaks, it is newsworthy.
Wikileaks in many ways is like reading someone’s diary without their permission. Wikileaks offers an unfiltered look at American diplomatic conversations. Wikileaks is raw. And while it reveals commentary and opinion of the American agent, it was never meant to be made public. News organizations of course now come up with articles on the commentary. They write commentary on the commentary. There is something sexy to be in the know. It is human nature. To know what other people say, are saying, are thinking. In many ways that’s why people are hungry for Wikileaks. Secrets are juicy. Whether it is Aquino, or Arroyo, the only thing hurt by the revelation are bruised egos, and the undermining of American diplomacy, and relationships, and reputation built over the years.
With every relationship— as friends, as business partners, as a supplier-contractor, employee-employer, and so many others, we deal with each other differently. It is why in social networks we now create lists and circles. Not everyone wants to know you ate a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich for lunch. Your mom might be interested in that, your supplier? Not so much. It is why we strive to find that filter in our social networks because it is natural for humans to relate to each other differently. To act differently depending on the state of our relationship.
As humans, we are bruised whenever a friend would reveal something we mentioned in confidence to another person. This is when relationships often break down. It really isn’t proper. Is it?
What happens to the sources of the information described in the cables? Have they become lamb for the slaughter? Collateral damage, then?
Nation states are no different. They form relationships, and form an understanding with the various people they meet. Is it any surprise that American diplomats would write about their contact reports? That is after all, the nature of their job. To convey information, and understanding about the places they are stationed at, and report back to their superiors. Every country in the world does this. Every employee visiting a possible customer does this— form an understanding whether they can win a contract with a client.
Is it any wonder why Julian Assange is seen as an anarchist? Wikileaks after all exposed the American diary for all the world to see. It has, over the years released War Logs about the Afghan and Iraqi wars, as well as information about Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
These are the questions, I ask. Has Wikileaks made an impact that improved human life in some fashion or has it simply made diplomats even more guarded, and even more secretive? Will it make sources more weary of reveal information? Has Wikileaks, by their revelations made peace around the world, closer to reality, or made it worst? Has Wikileaks in some way, brought a corrupt official to jail, or made a leader, better? If we answer, “No”, has Wikileaks lost its way from revealing information from closed regimes? How is Wikileaks then, any different from reading gossip in the tabloids?
Image credit: Wikileaks logo, some rights reserved.