WikiLeaks: What the world is saying

By , Correspondent

UK: A digitally driven revolution in foreign diplomacy

The most-read opinion piece on Tuesday from the Guardian, another one of the papers that received the cables in advance, is a column that claims the Internet, and by extension WikiLeaks, will lead to more responsible diplomacy.

The former US ambassador to Russia James Collins told CNN the disclosure of the cables, "will impede doing things in a normal, civilised way". Too often what is normal and civilised in diplomacy means turning a blind eye to large-scale social injustices, corruption and abuse of power. Having read through several hundred cables, much of the "harm" is embarrassment and the highlighting of inconvenient truths. For the sake of a military base in a country, our leaders accept a brutal dictator who oppresses his population. This may be convenient in the short term for politicians, but the long-term consequences for the world's citizens can be catastrophic.

The fact that the leaks happened, and that there is government outrage, shows that more diplomatic information should be regularly made public and that politicians need to show more respect for the public’s right to know, the columnist writes.

In the past, we deferred to authority and if an official told us something would damage national security we took that as true. Now the raw data behind these claims is increasingly getting into the public domain. What we have seen from disclosures like MPs' expenses or revelations about the complicity of government in torture is that when politicians speak of a threat to "national security", often what they mean is that the security of their own position is threatened.

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