A question of ethics
The published comments made by top American diplomats were not off the cuff. Some devilish thought went into them.
THE voice of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lacked the ring of sincerity. True, she had to defend the indefensible but she could have been more forthcoming on the leakage of the US classified documents. This might have revived the confidence of the countries the US has hurt in the WikiLeaks scandal. Ms Clinton's statement that the leakage was an attack on world peace does not wash. Nor does it condone the breach of faith that the nations repose in Washington. The published comments made by top American diplomats were not off the cuff. Some devilish thought went into them.
How can the leaders of these countries trust the US which says something pleasant in their presence and entirely the opposite behind their backs? This is no diplomacy. It is sheer betrayal. President Obama, who swore by transparency when he was electioneering for the presidency, has come out as a double-faced personality after the disclosures.
His oratory cannot hide the fact that countries have been taken for a ride. What can be the moral stance of the president when his secretary of state tells the US diplomats at the UN to spy on their counterparts? But then America has the example of Watergate which led to exPresident Nixon's resignation on the ground that he had misused the government machinery.
It seems as if Washington treats other countries as fodder for its mighty diplomacy machine. Ms Clinton is right in her remark that President Obama and she framed a world policy which America is trying to implement. But what sort of policy is she alluding to? No doubt, national interests come first. The US is no exception. But then why does it delude the world by pretending that Washington is guided by altruistic motives?
WikiLeaks has done a great service to the world. US citizens should be indignant because their government has put a question mark over their credibility. If such are the means that the most powerful democracy adopts to achieve its ends, the very ideology becomes dubious. How is the US different from dictatorships since they too use oily words in public and cut throats in private?
That America wanted to have a nuclear transfer programme for Pakistan's enriched uranium to some 'safe place' has been known for some time. But Pakistan did not allow the US to remove the enriched fuel.
Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesman clarified that "reports concerning Pakistan's experimental nuclear reactor acknowledge that Pakistan did not allow any transfer of the fuel from the experimental reactor". In other words, the US suggestion to have the fuel transferred was plainly refused by Pakistan.
The disclosure on Afghanistan has annoyed India the most. Both Turkey and the UAE used their clout to keep New Delhi out of a meeting on the future course of action at Kabul. Both countries, as US documents reveal, did so to ' appease' Pakistan.
Since this information has came out within 24 hours of President Pratibha Patil's return from the UAE, India is wondering how the relationship would develop. It has a good understanding with the UAE and wants to sustain it.
India is upset with Ms Clinton's message to ascertain deliberations regarding the Security Council expansion among " self-appointed frontrunners" for permanent seats. New Delhi has been hurt by the cable sent to the American ambassador at New Delhi. At present, its position is to let things stay as they are although a spokesman has said, more for US consumption, that the relationship between the two countries is too deep to be disturbed by external considerations.
WikiLeaks has in its possession thousands of cables which the US embassy in New Delhi has sent to Washington. The worse is yet to come. India suspects that since the leaked documents are dated between 2005 and 2008, there would be a lot of material on its nuclear and defence deals negotiated between 2005 and 2008.
It is an open secret that there was a lot of pressure on the Manmohan Singh government on the nuclear deal. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) left the alliance headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, making the deal a crucial issue. Any concession shown by either Washington or New Delhi can be disastrous for the battered Congress-led coalition. India is facing another embarrassing situation concerning the Niira Radia tapes, disclosing her telephone conversations with industrialists and top journalists. Industrialist Ratan Tata has approached the Indian Supreme Court for an injunction on the leaks which, he alleges, have violated his right to privacy.
He has questioned whether India has turned into a banana republic and asked the government to punish those responsible for it. He could have named them because the income tax department says that it authorised the tapping of phones. The home ministry says that it had given the permission. It is a questionable order because in a democracy the tapping of private telephones is an attack on personal liberty.
Only a part of the conversations has been transcribed but it establishes the nexus between the business houses, the politicians and the journalists. I do not know why only a few journalists were picked up because some 30 of them figure in the tapes. The Indian media has to have a code of ethics which journalists should adhere to in all situations.
Unfortunately, some journalists have not come up to the standard they are expected to maintain.