Tomás F. Serna
December 12, 2010
My grandfather, who lived to the age of 93, had a scotch every day of the last seventy years of his life. He only allowed himself a second one on saturday nights -he went to dinner out with my grandmother each and every saturday for 50+ years-, and when the United States had some kind of military incident around the world.
Most times it would work like this: News about some incident would break and he would call me and invite me over to his place. There, I would operate the satellite system to tune CNN on, and we would watch the news together. With a glass of scotch.
He had lived over 45 years on the Caribbean and had visited the US many, many times throughout his life, both for business and for leisure.
One thing was clear to him, when some local talking head complained on TV about the US acting as the “Police of the world” he always said that thank God someone was undertaking that role, and that it was good news for the “free world” that the ones taking care of that were the americans.
Just very recently we had a clear example on how very much we are in need of such a “world police”. North Korea, anyone?…
America has been shipping (and losing) soldiers throughout the world for decades. It is only naive to think that the US would devote the amount of souls, money and effort they do on a yearly basis on pure philanthropic grounds. The US is, but of course, looking after their interests. Aren’t we all? Or more exactly, shouldn’t we all?
Americans aren’t happy about the leak. That much was only to be expected. But what we learn from the cables that are slowly being released by wikileaks and the media outlets that have been given early access to them, doesn’t seem so far -with some notable exceptions-, to pose such a big deal to US interests.
As an editorial on “Expansión” (Spain’s biggest economic paper), suggested a couple of days ago, the fact that President Clinton ordered a psychological profile on some South American leaders only gives praise to his instincts, and what would be surprising would be him not ordering much more profiling around…
Timothy Garton Ash wrote in his piece “ A banquet of secrets” that: (…) “Yet, from what I have seen, the professional members of the US foreign service have very little to be ashamed of. (…) For the most part, however, what we see here is diplomats doing their proper job: finding out what is happening in the places to which they are posted, working to advance their nation’s interests and their government’s policies.”
This speaks, in my humble opinion, wonders about the United States Department of State. We in the EU should be taking good note of a country that has a clear understanding of what its goals are, and that makes very good use of its resources towards them. In fact, we should be taking very good note on the spirit of teamwork, of common aim that the cables show.
Professor José M. de Areilza from IE Law School and co-editor of this blog, wrote last friday at ABC -one of Spain’s three biggest papers-, that secrets are necessary in the international arena and that Julian Assange’s views on freedom on the Internet are primitive to say the least.
While I’ve always looked at John Perry Barlow’s “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” mainly as folklore material for my classes, the “Cablegate” issue and the subsequent lame attempts to remove the leaked cables from the Internets that are taking place, seem to give relevance to Barlow’s writings: (…) “Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. (…) Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.” (…)
As this is getting somewhat awkward, I will stop the quoting on the “declaration” there.
Professor Jack Landman Goldsmith from Hardvard Law School writes today on Lawfare, that: (…) “In Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward, with the obvious assistance of many top Obama administration officials, disclosed many details about top secret programs, code names, documents, meetings, and the like. I have a hard time squaring the anger the government is directing toward wikileaks with its top officials openly violating classification rules and opportunistically revealing without authorization top secret information.”
Face saving aside, what the US is probably aiming at is to try to set an example for the future, in order to show what could happen to individuals involved in the publication of leaked clasiffied documents. Only natural, once again.
What Assange has managed to do, so far, is to further create an elite within foreign officials, diplomats and business men. I wouldn’t be surprised of learning about hurt feelings amongst those with regular exchanges with US counterparts not mentioned by their names on the cables.
All in all, the cables make for a great read. My favorite is the one on “How to handle a defector – a how-to guide for embassy staff”, you will see some of that material in my upcoming spy novel.
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