WikiLeaks reveals secrets that are not so secret

The website WikiLeaks.org continued its work as a champion of international freedom of information this week when it released more than 250,000 documents purported to be secret by U.S. officials. Anyone looking for a bombshell was disappointed, however, as much of the information appeared to have been culled from publicly available reports. Other tidbits included candid and embarrassingly undiplomatic remarks made by U.S. diplomats about world leaders.

The initial response to the WikiLeaks leak, which appears to have originated from an American source, was that it amounts to an attack on world leaders, to paraphrase Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In the same breath, however, Clinton said world leaders responded by saying, “You should hear what we say about you.â€

In other words, the information contained in the leak is not all that surprising — and if it’s not surprising, it wasn’t that big of a secret in the first place. Everyone knows world leaders have their personality quirks and desires for control and power. Everyone also knows that Israel and Iran are not friendly with one another and that Pakistan is considered a questionable player when it comes to Middle East peace. Reiterating such information in a secret document does not make it a secret.

If there were any surprises this week, they came in the form of positive responses to the WikiLeaks posts. Some noted that the United States is taking the lead role in many instances when it comes to forging world peace, and that an Iranian plan to purchase a missile system from Russia appears to have been thwarted in part by diplomatic negotiations.

As with the Pentagon papers of the 1960s, the documents released by WikiLeaks this year have been eye-opening and educational for students of world history, and the information released has not led to the catastrophes predicted by knee-jerk politicians and pundits. On the contrary, the information is giving us a greater understanding of current world conflicts, and that should only help to resolve them.

WikiLeaks deserves applause and credit for its courageous presentation of important information and for helping debunk the myth of secrecy that surrounds international relations.

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