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Cablegate: on reflection 30, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Opinion.
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Before analysts get too self-congratulatory about how the cablegate leaks have ‘proven’ how they ‘have been right all along’, there are a few important caveats.

1.       Just because a diplomat said something doesn’t mean it’s true. Ordinarily, one would never have to make such an obvious statement, yet I think that this is being forgotten in this debate. Many of these dispatches are Americans briefing other sections of their diplomatic establishment on, for example, Gulf countries. They therefore espouse the ‘party line’; the image that they [the authors] want the one who is going to x region to carry on.

2.       Yes, diplomats often have very good access. But when one is written by an Ambassador about an interview with a Crown Prince, for example, we must not forget that the Crown Prince in question is not necessarily telling the truth. Again, just because it is meant to be a private ‘off the record’ conversation doesn’t necessarily lend it any more validity. A Crown Prince in the Gulf has a vested interest in deepening and prolonging American support for obvious reasons. What is the best way to do this? By highlighting the Iranian threat and as a key corollary, ‘their’ important on the U.S. side against them too.

3.       The establishment in the Gulf, it must be forgotten, are not necessarily any kind of bell-weather of public opinion at large. They are mostly unelected, after all. While in some instances, I’m sure they do accurately reflect their peoples’ opinions, this must not be taken as a given, as, I think, it often is in this case.

4.       What has been leaked is but a fraction of the whole. There are supposed to be hundreds of thousands more documents to come. As I noted yesterday, Assange picked and chose these pieces of information for a reason. What reason? Publicity, probably, but who knows. Don’t for get this.

These leaks are both fascinating and useful: I don’t want to be too scrooge like about them, but at the same time, I think a brief pause is perhaps necessary to contemplate exactly what they are and where they came from.

 

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Comments»

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