Overseas Views: How WikiLeaks Changes Things for Us All

Via HBR | by Carne Ross, who resigned from the British foreign service over the Iraq war.  He founded and now runs Independent Diplomat, the world’s first non-profit diplomatic advisory group. Follow his ongoing analysis of the Wikileaks disclosures on Twitter. Excerpt:

The massive disclosure of classified US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks is an event of historic, if not seismic, significance. So great is the number of cables, and so sensitive is much of the information they divulge, that the consequences will be profound, long-lasting, and manifold. No one — neither Wikileaks nor the U.S. government — can know whether the effects will be good or bad. They will undoubtedly be both. We can be sure only that they will be many and unpredictable.

Governments are no doubt rushing to secure their data and hold it more tightly than ever, but the horse has bolted. If a government as professional, technically sophisticated, and well-protected as the U.S. can suffer a breach of this magnitude, no government is safe. Politicians can roar their demands for the prosecution of Julian Assange or — absurdly — that Wikileaks be designated as a terrorist organization, but the rage is in truth a tacit admission that government’s monopoly on its own information is now a thing of the past.

Diplomacy will be changed forever. The presumption that governments can conduct their business in secret with one another, away from the prying eyes of the public, died this week. Diplomats and officials around the world will now realize that anything they say may now hit the public sphere.

Read the whole thing here.