A ques­tion of ethics

The pub­lished com­ments made by top Amer­i­can di­plo­mats were not off the cuff. Some dev­il­ish thought went into them.

The Pak Banker - - 4editorial - Kuldip Na­yar

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.

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