Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
WASHINGTON — Now that WikiLeaks has begun releasing a quarter of a million classified U.S. State Department cables from embassies around the world, a new era is dawning. Political change and reform are inevitable world-wide and at long last, there’s a chance for peace and stability in the Middle East. Really.
This is how Julian Assange, the Australian founder of WikiLeaks, views the effect of the dispatches that lay bare the inner workings of U.S. diplomacy, provide frank and often titillating detail of the shortcomings and foibles of foreign leaders, report on the breath-taking scale of corruption in such places as Afghanistan and Russia, and note that — surprise, surprise — Arab leaders in particular tend to say one thing in public and quite another in private.
“The…media scrutiny and the reaction from government are so tremendous that it actually eclipses our ability to understand it,” Assange said in an interview with Time magazine on day 3 of the data dump, which began on November 28. “I can see that there is a tremendous re-arrangement of viewings about many different countries. And so that will result in a new kind of harmonization … ”
The Frequently Asked Question section of the WikiLeaks website explains why things are looking up for Middle East peace. “These cables, by giving the players an unvarnished description of how they are seen … (provide) common ground on which to effectively negotiate peace and stability.”
The phrase “irrational exuberance” comes to mind, and the suspicion that fame and notoriety have driven the former hacker away from the reality-based community and pointed him towards Utopia. In his version of Utopia, there are no lies, double-talk, secrets, confidential conversations and wheeling-and-dealing. It’s a brave new world with perennially open microphones.