The public appears to have organized itself around two opinions regarding the nature of WikiLeaks and the secret U.S. cables and other materials released to date:
— The content embarrasses the U.S., interfering with its relations with other countries and damages U.S. credibility, making WikiLeaks a threat to the U.S., or
— The content isn’t any more embarrassing than what the world already knows about the U.S. and that WikiLeaks is an opposition publicist necessary to keep democracy on its toes.
The public’s opinion is shaped in no small part by the media reporting on WikiLeaks and the material released; some of the outlets have seen unredacted material and made assessments as to what should be released, but they may not really understand what it is they are looking at because they do not understand all of the context surrounding the material. Quite frankly, the media may not even recognize erroneous or manipulated content in the leaked diplomatic cables. And media today no longer has the resources to do the kind of extensive research it once had to reconstruct context. Their reporting is inherently flawed but still shapes the public’s opinion, and the opinion is divided in these two divergent directions.
But what if these two majority opinions are wrong? What if there are other possibilities that haven’t been considered, perhaps out of organic groupthink? . . .
I’m definitely in the minority as I don’t subscribe fully to either of the majority opinions. For starters, average Americans have been incredibly naive about their country’s image abroad; they don’t fully realize what their country has done in their name, from supporting dictators to encouraging corporate interests over democracy. There’s really little which will embarrass those who are fully aware of America’s abuse of hegemonic powers over the last several decades.
Secondly, while it’s necessary for whistleblowers to be able to speak the truth in a way which sheds light on problems in order change the status quo, it may be easy to game whistleblowers’ best intentions.
Imagine, then, that WikiLeaks has been provided information by well-meaning and unaware whistleblowers, believing the information to be leaked and important to shedding light on wrongdoing — and instead, the information has been planted for the purposes of dissemination without any repercussions to those who planted the information.
Go one step further: After decades of baggage have accrued in relations between countries all over the world costing billions in diplomacy and defense expenses to navigate these aged, creaking and now obstructive frameworks…what if a complete and total reset was desired, one which would open up all the baggage and jettison the secrecy holding it all together?
It’s within the realm of possibility. Whatever entity might have set this in motion gains the upper hand temporarily because they controlled the timing.
Pity cut-outs caught up in this; they will be defamed and abused and thrown under the bus and will likely have no idea they have been set up. The agent provacateurs, too, will be branded negatively. The drop box may become compromised and unusable. But there will be no “fingerprints” to lead anyone to the actual originators of the leaked material, no trail of crumbs to follow to suggest the real intent behind the leaks. If this was an operation, a measure of success would be the complete separation of the actual leaker from the dispersed material, utter deniability; we might never be able to prove the source and the identity of those who’ve hit this reset button.
All we know for certain is what we see in the wake of the leaks: governments under siege by their people, investment banks scrambling for cover from an undisclosed threat, troubled but secret negotiations laid out in the open for candid reassessment by the world.
However this reset came to be, whomever kicked it off, the bottomline remains the same. It’s up to the public to make the most of the opportunities it presents and demand greater transparency from governments going forward.