After the deluge: WikiLeaks and Diplomatic Reporting

Posted on February 2, 2011 by

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Now that the WikiLeaks hype has settled, it is a good time to look objectively at its impact and consider what we can learn. The exposure of US diplomatic cables has revealed a highly professional diplomatic service.

American diplomats write good policy analysis, clearly distinguishing facts and judgments. The reports are concise, and well-written with good humour. The early criticism that the cables covered too many ‘trivial’ matters is not valid: these matters reflect reality in many countries. A description of the palace of one of Ben Ali’s relatives (with tigers as pets) is more powerful than a statistical analysis showing the Gini-index of Tunis society.

A collateral ‘advantage’ of Cablegate is that the world stands reassured that one of the main global powers has a highly professional and reliable diplomatic service. One can challenge concrete foreign policy decisions, but it is clear that American diplomacy is based on informed and rational decision-making. In times of crisis, when issues of trust in official structures abound, this can help. 

Next week we will discuss Diplomatic Reporting in the Internet Era after WikiLeaks. Please join us.