So the USA expresses controversial opinions about other governments in private? And other governments ask the USA to step in over security concerns from other nations? And the USA spies on UN bureaucrats? That affirmative answers to these questions have been confirmed by leaks is pretty astonishing, but are these really revelatory?
I find it incredibly difficult to believe that the answer to these questions would not still be “yes” if you substituted any other country for “USA”. As distasteful as it may seem, espionage has been a vital component of diplomacy and national security for centuries. Any nation with strong military capability will receive pleas from supplicants to help settle local squabbles (especially if they could possibly balloon into global conflict). And for the love of Pete, hasn’t anyone ever expressed a private pejorative opinion that suddenly became public? As the comic Chris Addison tweeted this week, the Wikileaks are
the political equivalent of the baby monitor accidentally left on when you’re complaining about your dinner guests.
I would personally love to see the equivalent MI6 documents profiling George Bush or Dick Cheney – I’m sure they contain choice bon mots more stinging than the so-called “rude behaviour” of Prince Andrew or “rarely creative” of Chancellor Merkel.
Yes, the leaks are potentially very damaging, putting individuals in danger and jeopardising intelligence operations worldwide. Thankfully Ahmadinejad has dismissed the leaks as Western propaganda, and the UK’s feathers seemed equally unruffled. But let’s put these supposedly “embarrassing” leaks in context. Some of them allege pretty serious things (well, allegations generally require the offending party to make them public, which hasn’t happened in this case), but on the whole these leaks suggest the standard secret machinations of any modern Western power.
We’ll just have to hope the media doesn’t try and make mountains out of molehills…oh bugger.