Would you say that future embassy cables being leaked is more or less likely in the wake of Wikileaks? I guess I just don’t understand it as a practical concern. The risk was always there, you were just unaware of it. Now you’re aware of it, but it’s a certainty that the status of that risk has changed considerably as a result of this scandal over the last few years. It’s most often used for the military, but I think pretty much all of us find ourselves “fighting the last war” every now and then.
If you were having truly frank discussions with US diplomats, then I assume you mean saying unpleasant things that you believe to be in the service of your country’s interests and not casual indiscretions of the sort that an amateur (I mean that literally, as in Tsavingirai’s unfortunate case) might deal in. Those “frank” discussions will continue as they always have, in direct proportion to their country’s perceived interests. If a diplomat is unable to deal with the US in that manner, then he’s replaced or the policy he represents will suffer. In the case of future Tunisian diplomats, for instance, they might look more favorably on American diplomacy as a result of Wikileaks leveraging its private criticisms into the public sphere, because ability to keep secrets will be unlikely to be the key variable for them. In the case of established, long-term allies, I’d say there’s nothing like a common enemy that scares the hell out of them like Wikileaks to inspire cooperation. Ultimately, I’d be surprised if the effect extended beyond improving practical opsec in terms of paradigm shifts in behavior.
It’s important not to conflate embarrassment of individuals, governments, and policies in the short term with the broader interests of the nation in the long run. That is the fundamental fallacy at the heart of this debate; how many wrongs can be unveiled by a leak before it magically transcends that mythical status of endangering national security and becomes public interest?
In any case, what I’d like to see is clarity on the part of criticisms. First, show me what a person thought of the original redacted leaks, and compare and contrast those thoughts with how they frame the current involuntary involuntary (yes, times two) transparency fiasco with respect to Wikileaks. Then we have a pretty good idea of what percentage of their belief in transparency and plain dealing where possible is genuine.