Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wiki Power!?

Not to keep harping on Wikileaks, but...

Wikileaks is normally not something I would be interested in, but I think its very poignant timing that this news is breaking at the end of our course. You couldn't really ask for a better cumulation of the concepts we studied this semester. What I'm most interested in is just how much the most recent wiki "leak" has and/or could hurt the US soft power. Maybe its just because I'm paying more attention to it in the news now, but it seems that this diplomatic leak is making a bigger splash than the one about the Iraq war. All countries do bad things in war, but now the US's dirty little laundry is out there... Our burn book got published and we just won the mean girl contest.
If our public diplomacy over the past 10 years has been all about putting a more synchronized, "real" image of the US out there, the recent leaks are going to be a huge hurdle, that Mrs. Clinton and the folks at the state department are already struggling to overcome. What better an example of the emerging influence of ICT's in the global political sphere. Some secret funded upstart website had almost a more than instantaneoues impact on global politics. Even before it leaked the documents, the anticipation was making headlines and putting governments on the defensive. I'm sure this is just the beginning of what wikileaks and other self appointed whistle blowers and going to be able to do, and I think heads of state are more than a little afraid of it. I'm just glad I chose this career path.


  1. Lauren, still laughing at the mean girl contest line. I couldn't agree more though. This is a perfectly timed example of how the cat is out of the bag and not going back in in terms of non-state actors and the rising influence of ICT's. More and more--from the rise of the 24 hour news cycle to political scandal framing, to an internet that hosts a million different viewpoints that the State Department will have difficulty reaching or affecting--public diplomacy is more and more coming out of the cigar rooms and ballrooms and into the open. I think it's a trend we will only see grow over the next decades.

  2. I love Wikileaks. I’m actually kind of surprised about how massive an impact the ‘big leak’ was. Wikileaks has been around for a while, in fact, my professor last year directed us to the website to watch a few videos and read some documents for assignments. I haven’t been following this as closely as someone who claims they love Wikileaks should, so I’m not sure exactly how this hit big news recently. I’m guessing a large quantity of even more damaging information became public. But knowing that I had access to this website last year, I know that this is not a completely new development. People are just now taking notice.
    Many people are thinking about how to prosecute the founder and how the US foreign policy makers, soldiers, ect, need to respond to so many criminal allegations against them. But all of this brings to mind something relatively simple. In the information and surveillance age, how long did anyone think that their secrets were going to stay secret? Let’s get past the fact that the information is out there; let’s look at (my favorite) what this means. The everyman has a camera. The everyman has phone. The everyman may have a cameraphone. So why did anyone think that secrets can still exist? We have journalists embedded with the troops. Just because what they shoot does not get reported on national television, it does not mean that the footage ceases to exist. If go to Uzbekistan right now, and meet a US spy, but they don’t know that I know they are a spy (the intelligence agencies have gotten more and more sloppy over the years, and not advancing as fast as technology has), then I have some information. If I see that spy meeting with a dangerous someone, I have more information. If I have a voice recorder, if I have a video camera, if I have a snapshot camera (for documents), or if I have a phone which has all of these things, AND a method by which to transfer this information, I have solid proof and a backup copy to wherever I sent it. Information wrangling is streamlined now, anyone can do it. Burn Notice. With all that being said, we have to change the way we now do our dirty work. We cannot be so obvious about it anymore.

    Besides, if they really felt strongly, they could deny all of it.