Thursday, December 16, 2010

Does the US Practice "Diplomacy of Empire?": another Dose from Mr. Cook

Love him and his organization, or hate them; no one can deny that Julian Assange and Wikileaks have rocked official Washington, and the global diplomatic world, to their respective cores.

With only a mere fraction of the 250,000 US diplomatic cables in Wikileak's possession released, one can only wonder, and perhaps worry, about what will come next.

Does Julian Assange possess a "Poison Pill" of information that could, as some have alleged, bring down the US financial and banking systems, or ignite what would, indeed, be a global conflict?

Not one for conspiracy theories, I must confess I wonder if he does because of the intensity of the US government's efforts to shut Assange up and and Wikileak's down.

To date, despite all the uproar,most of what has been released is not particularly earth shattering or dangerous, although it has proven terribly embarrassing to the United States  and will, no doubt, make the always tough of job of diplomacy that much tougher.

Think about it, was anyone surprised that a US diplomat sent a cable to a colleague in which he or she opined that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is "loco"? Chavez is loco. He holds some delusion that he is the reincarnation of Simon Bolivar, destined to reunite all of Latin America under a Bolivarian/Socialist banner and his leadership.

Was anyone really surprised the Sunni king of Saudi Arabia confided in a US diplomat that he would be pleased if the US took military action against the Shiite mullahs in Iran? Any one who pays attention to Middle Eastern affairs was not, of that one can be certain.

The revealing of such conversations is embarrassing, but the fact they occurred was no real surprise at all.

But some revelations were deeply troubling and could do long term damage to both America's financial interests, security, and  credibility  on the world stage.

Here in Latin America,  several diplomatic cables regarding US policies in the region have frustrated many and deepened suspicions that Obama's policies are simply a repeat of GW Bush's.

One such cable released by Wikileaks was sent to the administration by the US ambassador in Honduras when President Jose Manuel Zelaya was forcibly sent into exile in Costa Rica by the country's military.

That diplomatic cable made clear that what had transpired was, indeed, a coup-d-etat and, under US law, the administration was required to suspend all foreign and economic aid to Honduras .

The administration did not heed its own diplomat's counsel.

Zelaya was in a legal battle with the country's Supreme Court over his attempt to mount a popular referendum to amend the constitution so he could seek a second term. That legal battle, many believe, was used as a ruse by the Honduran oligarchy, and its international corporate sponsors, like Dole, Chiquita, and Monsanto, to remove Zelaya because they were angry he had raised the country's minimum wage, along with taxes on the wealthy and corporations to increase funding for public education and the nation's health care system.

Just as they do with the Honduran oligarchy, international corporations like those mentioned above wield great financial and political influence among America's own oligarchy, namely the bipartisan political class inside the Beltway. As a result, the coup against the democratically elected Zelaya was allowed to stand.

Another cable released by Wikileaks revealed a  senior US official calling for the "isolation", "neutralization", and "marginalization" of numerous  democratically elected Latin leaders for their refusal to sign the US brokered agreement at last year's UN climate summit in Copenhagen - an agreement many, if not most, environmental organizations view as deeply flawed.

One such leader is Rafael Correa, the Harvard educated president of Ecuador.

Many had long suspected US involvement in the October coup attempt  against Correa because of lingering US anger at his refusal in 2007 to renew the lease on a large air base the US military used to stage anti drug trafficking operations in neighboring Colombia. The release by Wikileaks of the climate summit cable has only deepened those suspicions.

So, why is all this relevant for a regional blog like the port reporter unltd. and its readers? Well, I guess it's because I believe, or want to believe, that most Americans, and certainly most on the North Shore, do not want the United States to be perceived by the rest of the world as a nation that practices, as Bolivian President Evo Morales said in an interview at the climate summit in Cancun last week, the "...diplomacy of Empire".

Sadly, the Wikileaks revelations are only serving to reinforce the perception that that is the case in the eyes of growing numbers of people around the world.

And that, certainly, cannot bode well for future of the US or the world.

Michael Cook
PV de Limon, CR
& Gloucester, MA

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