Hardly any water in Wikileaks revelations
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 25 Mar , 2011

Our relationship with the US has greatly improved and therefore our confidence in the goodwill of the US towards us has grown.

The willingness of an unnamed US Embassy employee to be a witness to such stratagems, knowing this amounts to interference in our internal political affairs, is highly objectionable. There is nothing wrong with an Embassy employee obtaining such information on the diplomatic circuit, but direct interaction with purported actors and verifying hoards of cash meant for internal political deals runs the risk of being seen as complicity, if later this fact gets exposed. Therefore, normally, a prudent Ambassador would not allow his mainline diplomats to get entangled in such situations.

Other than this, concern that the Wikileaks uncover an interfering America would be misplaced. That the Secretary of State sends a lengthy questionnaire to the Embassy to report why so and so was made Finance Minister and not another, what the equation between the two contenders and other economic and financial decision makers is, what the views of the new Finance Minister are on economic issues of priority for the US etc, is legitimate tasking. We should not see such internal professional assignment as “interference”. What would have been of greater interest, and more revealing of American capacity for “interference”, is the quality of the response sent, as any adequate feedback to such detailed enquiry would have required enormous field work, tapping a deep network of contacts within the system and massive human intelligence.

It should be a matter of public satisfaction that our diplomats emerge from the cables as professionally capable and sound. They are able to articulate their positions with confidence and skill, and stand their ground on issues on which their US interlocutors have pressed them. We should discount reference in the cables to taking the Indian Foreign Secretary “to task” etc on Iran, as such embellishment of language is resorted to by Ambassadors to report back to Headquarters that the forceful representation they were instructed to make was accomplished. No serious Ambassador will burn his boats with the head of the Indian Foreign Office by being overbearing.

Our relationship with the US has greatly improved and therefore our confidence in the goodwill of the US towards us has grown. This should not, however, make our diplomats disposed to take their US interlocutors into confidence unnecessarily about their briefs from Headquarters as some seem to have done. This only limits their own margin of manoeuvre and opens them to pressure to adhere to their supposedly pro-US instructions when differences emerge, as would be highly likely in the UN context.

For professional diplomats the Wikileaks constitute run of the mill diplomatic reporting which, because it was not intended for public consumption, has naturally become fodder for media sensationalism and score-settling by politicians.

Courtesy: Mail Today

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Kanwal Sibal

is the former Indian Foreign Secretary. He was India’s Ambassador to Turkey, Egypt, France and Russia.

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