Monday, December 27, 2010

How sensational are the Cablegate revelations?

After two weeks Cablegate revelations still occupy the top of the world’s agenda, if not that of the United States press particularly. However, some commentaries this week simply suggested that Cablegate revelations do not tell us what we didn’t already know, therefore, the argument goes, the leaks do not need to be sensationalized.
It is difficult to apprehend at this point whether some of the undermining statements about the effect of WikiLeaks’ are just wishful attempts to hold on to the status quo, or represent a lack of focus in grasping what has been transformed thus far in such a short two weeks.
This week, while on the one hand I continued to observe the U.S. State Department’s reactions and follow the arrest of Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, on the other hand I found a chance to talk to one of the actors in the Turkish context of Cablegate, former U.S. envoy to Ankara between 2005 and 2008 Ambassador Ross Wilson.
Wilson was careful not to downplay Cablegate and avoided speaking plainly about the anxiety stemming from the uncertainty of what the thousands of cables still to be released would bring to light. Wilson hinted the impending cables would embody similarly harsh language and hearsay about the country they were written for by stating, "The reporting in the cables that I have seen is pretty much consistent with what we do."
For all purposes the unfolding Cablegate saga is worth paying all attention to in both world politics and, in particular, the Turkish context, not only because they are “the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain,” most of which were never meant to be made public, but it is a sensational story for it appears to have started the world’s first real cyber war, according United Kingdom daily The Guardian.
The war is between leaderless cyber hackers and various governments, especially that of the U.S., which now increasingly appear to be attempting to block people from donating to WikiLeaks by applying pressure on giant multinational firms such Mastercard, Visa and PayPal and earning the reputation of “anti-freedom” governments working against the free flow of information.
Despite the fact the U.S’ Obama administration gave cybersecurity issues a high profile in the early months of 2009, the lame duck Congress is unlikely to pass current cybersecurity draft legislation, yet more proof of how the gridlock between the two main parties on the Capital Hill leaves the U.S. vulnerable against rapidly changing environments and new enemies.
Instead, PJ Crowley, spokesman for the State Department, has been explaining how bad Assange’s intentions are for the global community, though he has yet to give a satisfying description as to exactly how Assange differs from, let’s say Bob Woodward, who only last year published a classified 66-page Afghan strategy document that was written by then Afghanistan commander General McChrystal. According to the Independent, a British daily, “informal discussions have already taken place between U.S. and Swedish officials over the possibility of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange being delivered into American custody,” even though – up until today – the U.S. Justice Department hasn’t decided on what grounds it seeks to charge him.  
About one out of every 250 U.S. secret cables is out, the world’s only super power’s “perceived power” has taken a big hit, for the documents nakedly show the U.S. diplomatic corps’ limits in a foreign country, for they are nothing more than actors, perhaps more significant among others, attempting to advance the interests of their own country.
Ankara-oriented cables, even if only than 1 percent of them have so far been revealed, had a huge impact on Turkish intellectual thinking and how the role of the U.S. should be viewed in real terms. 
If nothing else, sensational Cablegate revelations became a serious litmus test to expose some of the top Justice and Development Party, or AKP, officials or ministers’ surreal and self-centered world view after some of them openly argued this week the whole Cablegate episode, which so far has created an uproar across the world and compromised U.S. diplomacy to great lengths, is actually a worldwide conspiracy set up against the AKP.
Even worse, apparently Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is under significant influence from some of those advisers, who implied that he might be seeking legal action against U.S. diplomats.
For years, the ultra-nationalist and secularist segment of Turkish society also desperately wanted to believe the U.S. administration, behind the curtain, lent support to the AKP to create a mild Islamist and democratic model for the wider Muslim world, and it took only a couple of dozens of classified cables to crash many of those theories.
Simply, the fact that U.S. diplomatic cables go back as early as the mid-1960s gives us much hope that we might have a chance to take a peek at what were the factual relations between the U.S. government and various Turkish institutions, especially the military, before the 1980 military coup, or many other crucial points in recent decades when it comes to U.S.-Turkey relations.
In fact, even the possibility of such revelations that will help us better understand such critical moments of Turkey's recent history produce enough adrenalin to boil an average world affairs observer's blood, let alone professionals who are supposed to explain, not understate, fast-forward and shifting currents. 
Surely, it is hoped that as the rest of the 250,000 cables come to light they will give us enough material and time to digest what is occurring now.
Turkey-Israel ties warming?
Much anticipated talks in Geneva between two countries’ high administration officials just confirmed that Turkey has been holding the high ground over the Mavi Marmara incident from the beginning, for there were nine Turkish citizens’ blood spilled on the East Mediterranean.
By late Thursday night, it was still not clear whether the Israeli government has agreed to apologize formally, though it appears that it has already agreed to pay compensation, and therefore the blame for how it botched the commando operation that killed the nine Turks.
It is true the strained relations severely damaged interests of both countries: for Turkey it made it harder to have meaningful dialogue with the U.S. Congress specifically, and for Israel to loose an important friend and ally in the region at a time when it appeared to be going through one of the most isolated periods of its history in the world politics.  
Turkey has become more popular among the Arab streets since the infamous Davos Summit, the starting point of visibly worsening relations. A more confident Turkey will want to use its newly found leverage to become a more active player in the Middle East peace process, but will not want to cease being vocal about what is happening with and about Gaza.
It is obvious that Turkey-Israel relations, whether or not the sides move forward this week, will continue to be an unpredictable ride, to say the least.

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