The only insight I have to offer is this: Eroding diplomacy will certainly not prevent wars. The current document dump doesn’t really enlighten anyone about much, but casts doubt on everything. People aren’t wired to think it through, or to look at a bigger picture. They will focus on The One Single Thing — whatever that is — which offends them or their sensibilities, and all else will be left to others to interpret or consider.
I don’t think Julian Assange is a hero or a villain. He’s just a self-absorbed crusader in his own mind, who acquired documents via illegal means and published them on the Internet. And now we have them. It will be a test of journalists’ integrity to see if they can put together a bigger picture, or choose to stay focused on a narrower, literal interpretation with no nuance.
Any way you cut it, the end result will be eroded diplomacy and more fodder for all politicians to posture. But hey, at least we’ll all know about it, eh?
I’m a document junkie. I love reading original documents. I love it more when they’re in context and past a point where there’s danger to any of the players, including the people in the US Department of State.
So far, there’s been a dribble of out-of-context cables. I’m unimpressed with the content, but interested in the context. Jury is out.
UPDATE: Having read through the 250 or so cables published so far, I will add this observation. These cables are being released in such a way as to give maximum embarrassment and humiliation to diplomats and observers doing their job. As juicy as it may be to read little snarky nuggets about Caucasus weddings and raise your eyebrows about missile parts being shipped from North Korea to Iran via Beijing, there is nothing released so far that in any way, shape or form edifies or informs the public in a way that promotes constructive dialogue.
Indeed, what emerges is a picture of Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu as more of a lunatic than anyone thought he was, the Bush administration efforts at diplomacy as inept in many cases, overbearing in others, and sincere efforts and concerns about Iran’s ongoing saber-rattling and threat to the region.
In light of that, I can only assume Assange chose his initial releases carefully to get maximum leverage for what amounts to a whole lot of nothing. I have to agree with BooMan on this: it does more harm than good to diplomatic efforts and so far, at least, doesn’t really serve to inform the public.
One other thought: Howard Fineman is full of baloney. As a journalist, it’s his JOB to make sure the public knows full well exactly WHO made the mess and WHO is cleaning it up. He ought to try leaving the opinionating alone and actually settle down to some reporting.
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