My initial reaction to the latest Wikileak is mixed. On the one hand there is concern about the release of “classified” diplomatic cables and its consequences. Some, for example in a Guardian editorial, have made the point that much of the released information is not that serious and maybe should not have been classified in the first place.
On the other hand, reading what has been released so far, those examples of classified information that are revealing, provide more evidence and texture for what everybody knows and expects already—that U.S. diplomatic relations are deceitfully contoured in service to U.S. Empire building, for example, in the revelation about spying on UN leadership and its general secretary Ban Ki-moon.
The 251,287 cables go back over four decades, from 1966 and into February of this year, exposing what Wikileaks describes as “the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in ‘client states’; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.”
All this is not only something that is not controversial among high ranking U.S. elites—and assumed as their given right and duty to spy (as in, their thinking won’t allow the slightest doubt about such practices anyway)—but there are actually very recent and more devastating examples illustrating a magnitude of deceit far outweighing anything I have read released since yesterday.
For example, the manufacture of false evidence of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in Iraq, to invade and occupy that country—a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. Of course, this is obvious to anyone who has been paying attention to U.S. foreign policy in any serious way.
Although previous Wikileaks have exposed brutal military operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan there are limitations to these, in that massive data dumps such as this are just that—dumping the raw data for all to see where it is more likely that mainstream media will cherry-pick the data, and in doing so, set the parameters of our thinking.
Instead of developing a structural critique of U.S. imperialism highlighting the daily abuses of power by rulers over the ruled, both at home and abroad—and also before and after the leaks—there will be focus on various diplomatic scandals, people and personalities, and middle layer bureaucracies of U.S. government.
Although the long-term diplomatic consequences and fall-out are unpredictable, how past, present, and future leaks like this one will affect popular consciousness about the structural roots of these revelations, in the long-term, is largely up to the Left.
As Wikileaks explains, “The documents will give people around the world an unprecedented insight into US Government foreign activities.” Will there be popular anger or apathy? Perhaps there will be a combination that is hard to read.
Will there be building resentment on top of already existing distrust and adding kindling to embers of skepticism about Obama or any government after his administration? Will the distrust and anger feed into the Tea Party? How will this manifest itself without an existing mass movement for people to participate in, to improve, not just U.S. foreign policy and government bureaucracy, but more far reaching changes in our everyday lives for a new society and world that is classless, internationalist, self-managing and participatory?
Related: See interview with Michael Swartz about the Iraq War Logs, “War Logs Now and in the Future”