One of the principal reactions to the publication of material from the 250,000 US diplomatic cables handed over to WikiLeaks by an unknown employee of the US Government is that this is all old hat, there is nothing new here.
Do not fall for this line. Of course there is much in this vast volume of raw data that was known already, and much that was assumed by informed observers of the various areas of US foreign policy. But there is a big difference between making an informed judgement and actually knowing because the evidence is there in black and white. Australian Governments from both sides of politics make many statements that I do not believe, but I rarely have the documentary evidence that makes my scepticism a matter of established fact.
And in all the chaff of routine diplomatic reporting there is material that is new. In a thoughtful piece by columnist Richard Adams published in The Guardian on Friday 3 December, he enumerates seven of them:
- The British Government remains in thrall to the US:
Over Diego Garcia, over an international cluster munitions ban, over using British bases for rendition and spying flights, the British authorities were either ignored, manipulated or co-opted.
This list is by no means comprehensive. Adams might have added, for example, that American officials warned Germany in 2007 not to enforce arrest warrants for CIA officers involved in a bungled operation in which Khalid El-Masri, an innocent German citizen with the same name as a suspected militant, was kidnapped, tortured and held for months in Afghanistan – and the German Government complied.
For further detail click on the links above, or read Richard Adams’ article here.