Critical Social Theory and Cultural Commentary

Monday, 29 November 2010


The unfolding wikileaks revelations detailing the 'frankness' of American diplomats are interesting beyond the immediately apparent scandalous front page stories and geopolitical fallout because they expose fundamental issues in the conduct of international diplomacy and political discourse, that mainstream media and government are not at all keen for us to talk about. Elite reaction to the revelations has unsurprisingly been to emphasise their criminality and the endangerment of international stability, as well as perceived American interests. However, we should leave aside issues of legality here because secrecy should never be a cover for illegal and immoral behaviour on the part of government. Revelations such as these should shatter the myth that the modern democratic state and its agents are some kind of dispassionate arbiter of the collective good (aka 'national security'/'the national interest'), producing rational, scientific policy. The use of language in these communiques should highlight to anyone who reads them, the broad sweeping assumptions our politicians and bureaucrats have of the world, that are far from being objective, but rather, advance specific ideological interests. The documents confirm the charge of hypocrisy that has so often been leveled at American foreign policy... America cannot live up to the image of benign moral righteousness it seeks to project to the rest of the world. The truth is that it wouldn't be a difficult thing for diplomats to use restrained language and provide policymakers with a more balanced range of opinions. And its not actually that difficult to not lie. Politicians could always practice what they preach, no? I don't think its unrealistic moralising to expect that people can and should behave in a more honest way. Diplomacy is meant to be a skilled, restrained way of conducting oneself... is this not what we mean when we say that such and such a person is being 'diplomatic'? It should not be an aggressive, corrupt, duplicitous 'game' that it is cloaked by unnecessary secrecy. If wikileaks has endangered the internal stability of Yemen by exposing the lies their government have told the population about the presence of the American military on its soil, then this is something they should have thought about in advance; especially the Americans, it seems obvious that there was a good chance of this getting out at some stage anyway. These kinds of repeated American military interventions in the region wouldn't be necessary if all the talk about democracy and human rights was lived up to. America has spent the entire post-1945 period doing its level best to support corrupt, autocratic regimes, impose itself on the region and generally piss everyone off. Chickens coming home to roost methinks.

N.B: Its also interesting to note how the whole Iran issue has been spun already. The Iranians themselves have latched onto this, accusing the US government of being behind the wikileaks releases, and trying to downplay them. Whilst I think this is a bit far fetched, the anti-Iranian consensus revealed by the leaked documents has certainly been leapt upon by Western media, and strengthens the hand of the American right and Israel, in their unending clamour for war.

No comments:

Post a Comment