Before we turn into WikiFreaks…

Published: December 4, 2010

Some of the memos and their revelations are as close to being the truth as conspiracy theories.

Excuse me, while I jump on the bandwagon and hail the unprecedented revelation of global espionage. The revelation of a quarter of a million classified diplomatic cables of the United States is no mean feat.

Ordinarily, a quarter of a million journalists would have made their careers if they were fortunate enough to gain access to each of those documents individually. But must we be blinded by the incredulity of such an event to the point that we forget to question what the revelations really are?

For all their juicy and gripping disclosures, the leaked memos are not the truth with a capital T.

The documents are correspondences of American diplomats posted at embassies across the world. Therefore, at best, they provide an interesting insight into American foreign policy and how these individual diplomats perceived the world around them. Unless you lend omniscience to these individuals, some of the memos and their revelations are as close to being the truth as our conspiracy theories.

As for the who said what against whom, it is nothing more than glorified gossip, once you account for the occasional errors that are bound to have occurred during translations.

That does not mean that all of it is false. The diplomats were not imbeciles. However, individually, and as nation states, we will accept those revelations as true that conform to our own narratives and discard the rest as conspiracies. Invariably, when the dust settles, we will trudge along on our usual paths.

However, for historians and academics, the memos will continue to serve as a treasure trove – one they will examine, critique and then use to conjecture fresh perspectives on our age.

I will reserve any sweeping alterations to my worldview until then.


Gulraiz Khan

A sub-editor on the business desk of The Express Tribune who is interested in visual journalism and hopes to turn newspapers in to works of art

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ali Abbas

    ‘Unless you lend omniscience to these individuals, some of the memos and their revelations are as close to being the truth as our conspiracy theories.’

    Having agreed with most of what you have said, I would believe that you have already made a sweeping alteration of your worldview which is, if anything, a reaction to the deluge of conspiracy theories, televangelist khitaabs and the conversion of rumor and gossip into ‘news’ in our mainstream media. Agreeing fully that one has to be nuanced in absorbing all knowledge, the simple fact that the wikileaks documents have come out of raw, fast moving diplomatic records which are far-removed from the fanfare of public relations, official statements and intricately constructed formal stances of the elites, accords them important intellectual value. If anything, they help in filling the gaps in the overall geostrategic narrative that we observe around us.

    All fodder that mainstream media gets is what is fed to them. This, for a change, is of the more natural kind. So lets analyze it, shall we? But obviously the historians and the academics should do that first, while I go milk my cow.

    A valuable disclaimer though, if read with THIS disclaimer? haha.Recommend

  • parvez

    Equating the information available from these documents with gossip is naive. Recommend

  • S. Ali Raza

    Disagree! Very soon you will be changing your opinion. Please also follow the reaction of the world and casualties of Wikileaks starting from yesterday. This is real stuff, that endorses the stories journalists have been hiding as “off-the-record”.

    The next few months, the media will not be able to ignore the wikileaks. Recommend

  • hunain kapadia

    Agreed. They hardly reveal anything that jumps out as brand new information. Most of the leaks just confirm what conspiracy theorists and anti-US people have been talking about for a long time.

    However, it does portray the power of Wikileaks itself and its potential to cause major damage if/when it desires. With this kind of media frenzy that they caused, they can spread distrust and demur in even the most well knit organizations.Recommend