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An estimated 4-minute read

Gossiping Wikileaks

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These are interesting times. And it is certainly exciting for any international relations enthusiast, to have multitudes of diplomatic cables on his computer screen. With cablegate leak, we are getting a peek into the secret world of diplomatic exchanges.  But apart from all the excitement of gaining access to forbidden, and after going through many many articles in newspapers all over the world, and tid bits of cables, what I realized was that if, US diplomatic network was bollywood, then the publication of the documents would have been largely similar to publication of any other bollywood gossip magazine. But I add to this a disclaimer that I have certainly not read the whole leak, and my knowledge and research on the subject is largely limited to scanning of multitudes of newspaper and magazines articles.

There are very few things released which we don’t know already. Everyone in India knows that next door there is a hub of terrorists, and that US aid was never fully used against terrorists, it might have been fully used for the terrorists though. Indian foreign secretaries shouted from the rooftops that a great part of that aid is being used against India, but we had to wait for the cablegate to convince the world.

What we have largely got to know is the gossip in the American diplomatic network, and yes it does get juicy at times, such as the graphic discussion of lavish wedding at a small Caucasus country, Dagestan, with area little more than Mumbai. (But all those description of food, wine, the gold gifted, fireworks, firearms, was like a déjà vu to any Indian. Come on, you will find as much food and wine in every Punjabi wedding, Jat weddings are never complete without their sturdy ‘tau’ firing a shot or two from his gun, Gujratis are happy to display multitudes of fireworks, and in South Indian weddings, don’t even try to count number of gold ornaments. And all this happens in millions of weddings across India every year). It got amusing on how Saudi Arab King called Mr. Zardari a ‘rotten head’, but we Indians knew it already. (As said by a friend of mine, ‘how come an entire nation cannot find a sane person to rule it for 63 years’). Also, there was an interesting piece on a how Gaddafi goes nowhere without his Ukranian nurse, which was like a gossip straight out of a college campus, because some prints claimed it to be four blond Ukranian nurses. I am sure number and appearances of the ladies in question will keep on varying.

What is new and revealing is, the literal horse trading of Guantanamo prisoners. I say literal, because Arab King did suggest implanting chips in detainees just as they do with their horses. Interviews with the President, routes for Afghan War, incentive packages, etc. were instruments of negotiations to transfer the prisoners.

However, sensitive information on how so called Arab friends of Iran, asked for American help in stopping Iran’s nuke projects, is actually something, which I personally feel, shouldn’t have been leaked out. Iran had bragged of befriending all Arab nations, contemporaneously to the UNSC sanctions against it. It would have made negotiations, cajoling, prodding et al, easier if Iran had continued to believe the same. Now Iran is cautioned, will be more paranoid than ever and even though disclaiming the entire cablegate leak as another conspiracy of USA, it would surely go on a reality check and would constrict itself more.

Another set of documents, which according to me shouldn’t have been revealed, is the details of wishful planning of US and South Korea to merge North Korea with the latter. The documents detailing these terminate in February 2010, when North increased its military maneuver against South. Such planning  will obviously be seen as conspiracy by the north, and could result in more hostility and acrimony in the peninsula.

Even though, somewhere in back of minds of common janta like us, it might be impalpable, that the subject matter of leaks weren’t already known in diplomatic circles all over the world, say, Iranian diplomats already knowing that Arab countries were just feigning friendship or North Korea test detonated a nuclear bomb just to put US –South Korea speculations to rest ; David Brooks of New York Times, strikes a chord when he writes that ‘quality of a conversation is determined by level of trust which is now damaged by exposure, just as our relationships with our neighbours would be damaged if every private assessment were brought to the light of day’. However, his fears of disruption of world order and catastrophe in international relations, can be countered by Hillary Clinton’s assurances that diplomacy will survive as no one is offended by the leaks, and that an assuring voice from a certain quarter that, ‘you should see what we say about you’, puts a comic relief to the whole discussion. And pragmatically analyzing, of course diplomacy will survive, nations are not so naïve to close diplomatc channels and prepare for wars.

But certainly, denial of service attacks against wikileaks, INTERPOL alerted on founder of wikileaks Julian Assange, and he being (amusingly) charged with charges of murder, rape and sexual abuse, certainly indicates that damage has been done and it is anticipated that more will be done. But Assange is confident that even if he is arrested, wikileaks will continue, and if he is put in mortal danger, password would be made public in order to reveal all the leaked matter for once and for ever.

Coming days promise to unravel whether world order will be disordered, or diplomacy will diplomatically change the way of its functioning, or is it a mere shuffle in kaleidoscope of international relations, which might mean slight change in attitudes but no major altering of relations.

As I said, we are surely living in interesting times.

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