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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The diplomacy after WikiLeaks


ZUHAIR HAMADALLAH ZAID | New Delhi, January 19, 2011 15:47
Tags : Wikileaks | US | Palestine | Chargé d'affaires | |

After WikiLeaks announced the release of 250,000 American diplomatic cables, classified as secret documents, to some extent, the world in general and the diplomatic corps in particular, were left stunned. The US Foreign Department appeared to have lost its composer. The primary reason behind this was that these cables mostly dealt with the US and their allies and the complexities related with it. The US and many of its allies also lost their face. Many expressed surprise the manner in which the diplomacy was conducted in the new world order.

Diplomacy and diplomatic behavior in general does not go by the reason. Because exchange of ideas with media, passing and expressing a standpoint, and also the will to influence the policy of others are the main core of the diplomatic practices. Some of the researchers define diplomacy as “practicing power with other means”; others see it as a game of bargaining between two parties or more. Moreover, the success of diplomacy and diplomats are measured by their success in influencing and convincing others to accept in part or totality, their policies.

So, WikiLeaks did not discover anything new about diplomacy or the diplomats’ behaviour. Diplomats have been employing it for their country's interest since centuries. This includes using it for releasing or sending messages to influence other's policy or gather more information about the country where a diplomat is posted. The important thing here to know is that in diplomacy, honesty, truth and right actions are the capital of a diplomat. However, it does not mean that diplomats stick all the time to truth or right actions, but at the same time if the diplomat loses his capital, he would lose the trust of others as well. This would mean that he would be out of the diplomatic active circle, expired (in the diplomatic scene) and non-usable.

Many statements and opinions have mentioned that diplomacy after Wikileaks will change forever or at least will look different. Kevin Rudd, Australia Minister of Foreign Affairs is an example. We can conclude and understand from his position towards the published material related to him, that the assumption of tectonic change in the international diplomacy post-WikiLeaks is not true. He stressed that he will continue his role despite the face-loss he suffered following the leaks. He even suggested that in future such revelations would keep on denting his public image; but that would never deter him from continuing to serve the Australia’s interests. His boss, prime minister of Australia Ms Julia Gillard, came to his defence and maintained that “Rudd is a specialist in diplomacy and has served his country very well.”

The diplomatic norms as well as diplomatic behaviour will not change in any foreseeable future. Our world still needs this instrument to find the solutions for the difficulties and the problems that the international relation faces. Diplomacy is a key instrument to avoid military conflict. However diplomacy again comes to play when one wants the conflict to end and sanity restored. International relations without diplomacy would mean that world, a jungle, will loose sanity and its basic law would be determined by force and only force.

Despite the above mentioned facts, post-WikiLeaks one can clearly see a whiff of change in areas other than diplomacy. The most important is the role of media, especially correspondents. Earlier, journalists were known for protecting sources. But due to the advent of new-media like internet, anybody who lays hand on an information can print it, without bothering to protect the identity of the messenger.

The second change is related to US diplomacy and their diplomatic behavior. They would now be doubly cautious and will take extraordinary measures to protect its diplomats and secrets. But it is impossible to stop such leakages in the future too. On the other hand, the US cannot change the essence and the basic rules of its diplomacy, because it needs this sort of instruments to deal with others, despite the variety of power at its disposal.

Fear, anxiety and dizziness struck Americans and their allies. Everyone has his own special reasons to do what they did. The US wants to carry on with its complicated political influence in the external as much as in the internal political system. However, many of its strategies now lay bare to its allies. In addition, the published cables show the real American perception and attitude towards its allies. They appeared, even in the best of circumstances, as mere lackey of the Americans, devoid of any respect whatsoever. It is not for nothing that Americans want all those involved in the leaks prosecuted. They have gone all out against them.

This sort of war will not stop. It will continue between those who believe that it is a nation’s right to know about their leaders, and the others who believe in the necessity to determine the public knowledge. Despite the motives behind these two ideas, no one can stop or end the confrontation between these two respective followers.

(The writer is the renowned Palestinian analyst and Chargé d'affaires of Palestinian Embassy in India. The views expressed in the column are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian.)

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017