Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Finally, Wikileaks says something interesting about Venezuela: how it intervenes in Salvadoran affairs

The cable drip keeps going on and now we are starting to see patterns emerge besides the obvious gossip content.  El Pais from Spain, which is the "partner" specializing in cables related to Latin America, is starting to make interesting studies putting together several cables at once to let the big picture emerge.  Today we have a fascinating narration about El Salvador, about how the FLMN tries to sabotage the current president Funes, how the secret service of Salvador basically works against its president and exposes the country to future problem by letting, for example, the Venezuelan foreign minister go through the country unnoticed to set the reentry of Zelaya in Honduras a year ago.  You can read the five cables 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, that will let you know how even Funes is not feeling safe, and with good reasons.


What is shocking here is not what we read, we sort of suspected all of that stuff.  The thing is that the US knew about all of this stuff during the Honduras crisis, how the risk for a domino effect on El Salvador could happen if Zelaya was back in office and yet we had to wait for the wikileaks to know about such an extensive knowledge.

In a way I can understand the secrecy: the US was not in any condition materially or morally to back up Funes publicly considering the past of El Salvador.  However such knowledge should have made the US more critical of Zelaya brinkmanship pushed by Chavez and Lula.  Eventually the US strategy did prevail in the end and I want to believe that it was due in part to the Salvador embassy cables.

Finally, since from Brazil to El Salvador it is common knowledge AND opinion that Chavez is a saboteur, destroying any international organization he can get away with (only MERCOSUR still is worth something in this hemisphere because Paraguay refuses to let Venezuela in), how come they are not trying harder to contain Chavez?  Or a the Brazilian cables reveal, is it because the Brazilian are only too happy to let Chavez do the dirty job of Empire building in their favor?

Whatever it is, one thing is certain: Chaevz does not want anyone to look inside Venezuela but he is quiet the busy bee elsewhere.  Is anyone, ANYONE, going to call him on that?  And this also goes for the Venezuelan opposition who seems to be catatonic since September 26.

15 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:37 PM

    God only knows how much money has been thrown down the rathole by Chavez in the Honduras debacle.
    But one thing seems certain in retrospect.
    Honduras was the high water mark of Chavism in C.A.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "In a way I can understand the secrecy: the US was not in any condition materially or morally to back up Funes publicly considering the past of El Salvador."

    This is another example of where the Wikileaks worked against the interests of democracy.This kind of support is better given in secret.Identifying Funes as requiring US support against the radicals might effect his image and give more credence to accusations that he " sold out" to the US.

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  3. I agree that it is shocking that we have to wait for wikileaks to find this out about Funes and El Salvador.

    The fact that this would eventually have come out under US freedom of information legislation, forty years from now, does not alleviate my shock, nor, I hope, yours.

    I totally agree with your call for Venezuelans--or SOMEBODY--to start to spill Chavez's secrets.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Check out Bthe razilean-Venezuelan trade balance.
    That explains a lot. What that balance does not tell you: how easy it is for Brazilians to profit so much.

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  5. Kolya7:50 PM

    On off the record opinions US diplomats seem to be divided. Most think that the Wikileaks document dump will have negative consequences on US diplomacy, but, interestingly, some actually think that the effect will be positive--partly (but not solely) because the cables show that most US foreign service people are, in general, well-informed and nuanced in their analysis. (Nobody denies that they can make embarrassing mistakes or at times rely on wrong information, but I'm talking of general impressions.) I think the cables also show that to a surprising degree there isn't as much discrepancy between the State Department's confidential opinions and the public pronouncements of the US. Regardless of country diplomacy always involves hypocrisy, but, frankly, the cables show less of it than I expected.

    On Wikileaks and Assange, I read two very good blog posts by Charli Carpenter. She's a young and very smart political scientist who initially was positively disposed toward Wikileaks. For those who want to read a thoughtful and nuanced critique of both Wikileaks and Assange, I recommend to click on the following two links:

    Mega Leaks: Right Idea, Wrong Strategy

    http://duckofminerva.blogspot.com/2010/12/mega-leaks-right-idea-wrong-strategy.html

    and, the more substantial, On the Wikileaks Manifesto:

    http://duckofminerva.blogspot.com/2010/12/on-wikileaks-manifesto.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. Most think that the Wikileaks document dump will have negative consequences on US diplomacy, but, interestingly, some actually think that the effect will be positive--partly (but not solely) because the cables show that most US foreign service people are, in general, well-informed and nuanced in their analysis.

    To the contrary, it is almost entirely bad, for two reasons: 1) Some of the stuff released is quite damaging, take a look at the communication regarding Yemen, I'm amazed that those documents were only classified as "secret" (a relatively middling classification) given what they revealed.

    2) Although all nations engage in this kind of analysis, most like to pretend they don't. The Chavistas are (of course) claiming these documents reveal extensive American coup plotting in Latin America. Eva "big butt" Golinger will soon take something out of context to write some idiotic new book claiming a US plot to depose Chavez. Sure the Chavez loons would say this crap anyway, but their ability to point to text in the cables (even if taken out of context) will serve as further justification to clamp down on domestic opponents who they claim are all stooges of the US.

    I don't know what will happen to Assange, but I certainly hope scumbag Bradley Manning gets a severe sentence.

    ReplyDelete
  7. ConsDemo,

    First of all: I have seen several cables that are indeed damaging for innocent people.

    Now: What about Yemen? I have gone through the Yemen cables and I found nothing I hadn't heard or read about in European news MONTHS and MONTHS ago.
    US drones and the president? Something else?

    Just take a look at a general public channel's mediathek (ZDF and ARD are the main ones in Germany)
    http://www.zdf.de/ZDFmediathek/hauptnavigation/startseite#/suche/Jemen
    and see the amount of data on Yemen. Most of the time journalists actually talk directly there to average people in the local language and they do so not just with English-speaking workers for some Western base or government politicians or something.

    First hit in German just typing in Google Drones, Regierung, Amerikaner, Yemen from one of the main newspapers in Germany:
    http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/usa-und-al-qaida-terror-absender-guantanamo-1.67709
    That's from January.
    I have come through more revealing things in rather standard German or Dutch news all the time.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Kolya3:46 PM

    Sorry Daniel, a last one from me on the Wikileaks issue.

    Regarding the Wikileaks issue (whether to leak or not to leak), family analogies were brought up more than once. Here is another variation which shows (by analogy) that information that is deemed private/confidential should in the vast majority of cases stay private/confidential, but that there are exceptions--it's not an absolute right.

    Imagine I'm a typical family man living in a normal-looking neighborhood. One evening someone knocks my front door. It's a teenager I have never seen before. He smiles and hands me one of those tiny USB drives, says "you must check this out" and turns around and starts walking away. I call out after him and ask what's all this about. He yells out, "I don't live here, but snooping is my hobby." He jumps on a bicycle, starts pedaling and that's it, I never see him again. I check out the USB. It contains a short video of our next door neighbors. We don't know them that well, but they always seemed like a friendly and pleasant family. What's in the video? What I see is the father sexually abusing his crying five-year-old daughter. What should I do? The unknown teenager obviously invaded my neighbors privacy, violated the sanctity of their home, and secretly shot this video that is now in my possession. Without hesitation I turn in the father. Imagine now a different scenario. What I actually start seeing in the video is one of those private, after dinner, conversations between spouses in which they are talking about their neighbors. I stop watching right there. If I continue watching I'll be violating my neighbors privacy. And I'll be justifiably condemned and ostracized by the neighborhood if I outrageously choose to post the video on the online neighborhood forum.

    Similarly, it is one thing to release a secret government document detailing torture and/or other human right abuses by the government in question, and quite another is to release routine government docs penned by functionaries working under a justifiable assumption of confidentiality. If somehow such documents end up in our possession, there is a moral imperative to release to the world the first sort of documents, but withhold from publication and return the second type of documents.

    Incidentally, I read the so-called Wikileaks manifesto written by Assange and was less than impressed by it. He may be a smart hacker, but his political thinking is rather naive and inconsistent. Political writing is definitely not his forte, I've read anarchist types that are much more lucid and rigorous in their thinking than him. To make it clear, though, let me also say that I'm still bothered by the way Assange is being demonized and persecuted. Perhaps the sexual offense charges against him are justified (I don't know), but it is plain creepy the way the US government and many in the media went after him.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Kolya4:00 PM

    Regarding the Wikileaks issue (whether to leak or not to leak), family analogies were brought up more than once. Here is another variation which shows (by analogy) that information that is deemed private/confidential should in the vast majority of cases stay private/confidential, but that there are exceptions--it's not an absolute right.

    Imagine I'm a typical family man living in a normal-looking neighborhood. One evening someone knocks my front door. It's a teenager I have never seen before. He smiles and hands me one of those tiny USB drives, says "you must check this out" and turns around and starts walking away. I call out after him and ask what's all this about. He yells out, "I don't live here, but snooping is my hobby." He jumps on a bicycle, starts pedaling and that's it, I never see him again. I check out the USB. It contains a short video of our next door neighbors. We don't know them that well, but they always seemed like a friendly and pleasant family. What's in the video? What I see is the father sexually abusing his crying five-year-old daughter. What should I do? The unknown teenager obviously invaded my neighbors privacy, violated the sanctity of their home, and secretly shot this video that is now in my possession. Without hesitation I turn in the father. Imagine now a different scenario. What I actually start seeing in the video is one of those private, after dinner, conversations between spouses in which they are talking about their neighbors. I stop watching right there. If I continue watching I'll be violating my neighbors privacy. And I'll be justifiably condemned and ostracized by the neighborhood if I outrageously choose to post the video on the online neighborhood forum.

    Similarly, it is one thing to release a secret government document detailing torture and/or other human right abuses by the government in question, and quite another is to release routine government docs penned by functionaries working under a justifiable assumption of confidentiality. If somehow such documents end up in our possession, there is a moral imperative to release to the world the first sort of documents, but withhold from publication and return the second type of documents.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Kolya4:04 PM

    Sorry, Daniel, a last one from me on this issue.

    I read the so-called Wikileaks manifesto written by Assange and was less than impressed by it. He may be a smart hacker, but his political thinking is rather naive and inconsistent. Political writing is definitely not his forte. I've read anarchist types that are much more lucid and rigorous in their thinking than him. To make it clear, though, let me also say that I'm still bothered by the way Assange is being demonized and persecuted. Perhaps the sexual offense charges against him are justified (I don't know), but it is plain creepy the way the US government and many in the media went after him.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Kolya,
    It is very creepy and so far they have been particularly effective in the English media.
    And now everybody is calling him a terrorist and now they seem to be saying both there is nothing new in the leaks and those leaks make him a terrorist number 1 and they are trying to create a law that he is supposed to have violated. Hello?

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-december-8-2010/julian-assange--to-catch-a-somewhat-pasty-predator?xrs=share_fb

    And I agree with you: naive and inconsistent is the word.
    But then: wasn't Bush naive and inconsistent? And how many civilians were killed in the bombings of Iraq?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Imagine how the Anonymous crew working in support of Assange would react if he published their identities and addresses.I doubt they would like what they dish out.

    Perhaps those who feel sorry for Assange should consider that he and his buddies intentionally did what they did, and could expect the reaction they got.

    Will the US benefit from the exposure of wikileaks ?( I doubt it will) .Most people use any information they can get in the wrong way,either due to prejudice or a lack of complete understanding.Most people simply do not have all the info needed to put this information in its proper perspective.


    To me an another essential point is the fact that it is immoral for any person to steal secrets that do not belong to them unless involved in a war against said country or countries where all normal relations are off.If they are committing acts of war without declaring war, then this constitutes another immorality.

    Some of you guys live in a fantasy world.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Now: What about Yemen? I have gone through the Yemen cables and I found nothing I hadn't heard or read about in European news MONTHS and MONTHS ago.
    US drones and the president? Something else?


    President Saleh's concealment of US bombing. I'm sure many people already suspected this but its confirmation is a propaganda coup for islamists.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "To me an another essential point is the fact that it is immoral for any person to steal secrets that do not belong to them unless involved in a war against said country or countries where all normal relations are off.If they are committing acts of war without declaring war, then this constitutes another immorality.

    Some of you guys live in a fantasy world."

    You don't live in a fantasy world, right? And yet you seem to look at something as inmoral only if it is against the interests of the US government. If it is for the US government, anything goes for you, apparently.

    Tell that to the Iraki and Afghani children, many of which appeared in those docs.
    Oh...tell that to the NIGERIAN children...read the stories?

    ReplyDelete
  15. ConsDemo,

    First of all: I don't like the indiscriminate manner in which those cables are being published, a lot are counteproductive.

    Now about the Saleh thing, I translate from the Süddeutsche Zeitung (link above):
    "the government in Sanaa tried to cover up with the own air force attacks the latest attacks of US drones against supposed separatist South Yemenite provinces of Abian and Schabwa, which in December led to the death of dozens of people.
    And it's that the fact Saleh lets the US Americans act in his land makes him incredibly unpopular. Defence minister Rashid al-Alimi was criticized in parliament for the death on those attacks of 40 women and children."
    That was many months ago.
    I have watched more details about this event in evening German news (mind: on a public channel that is not all news as CNN).
    I am sure the Arab media got many more details about these issues. I have Arab friends who are very secular and not anti-US at all but they are not from the elite and they tell me what they hear from normal news (not from Yemen but other places) and what they tell is a different picture from what the princes of Saudi Arabia or the high elite in Iraq or Egypt would probably tell us.
    . Sometimes in Al Jazeera English you can get a bit as well (although not as much and don't take it all as fact, as nowhere else).

    What worries me is that many of these embassy employees - that happens everywhere - are getting too much of their impressions from the governments allied to them and too little from normal people, average journalists, from people that perhaps don't even speak English. There you are losing a lot of interesting information and you miss the real mood of any one country.

    ReplyDelete

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