With great fanfare, the Wikileaks people unveiled a whole slew of new classified US memos this week, causing many senior officials at the state department to pre-emptively warn against the diplomatic fallout that would result from their release. Publicly circulating this archive of unflattering language and blunt assessments, they said, risked damaging America’s relationship with key allies, and would expose to the world sophisticated and disturbing analytical profiles on the nation’s enemies.
Now that the documents are out, however, it’s a bit disappointing to see how dull and conventional much of the American analysis of foreign nations and their leaders actually is. Very little that the Wikileaks memos say has never been heard before — indeed, much of it has been said countless times, in much harsher terms, all over the place.
Among the revelations the press has politely treated as “shocking,” for instance, we are told that Vladimir Putin is still very much in charge of Russia, and bosses around President Medvedev, that David Cameron is an inexperienced and naive politician, and that Canada suffers from an “inferiority complex” towards the United States.
Even the stuff on the world’s so-called “rogue states” doesn’t seem that scandalous, and merely reconfirms what is already mainstream conventional wisdom. Pakistan is covertly aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan. Iran’s nuclear ambitions frighten most of the Middle East. China is relatively indifferent to the fate of North Korea.
The National Post has a good little summary of some of the other international profiles (scroll down).
Wikileaks supporters have been eager to play up their leaked memos as evidence that the US will never again be able to keep secrets from the public in the age of the Internet. If this is the caliber of secret their government is hiding, however, then America’s ability to keep things on the DL is clearly a much bigger problem than any one particular website.