Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Open Diplomacy

 In a recent essay, at project syndicate, Bioethicist Peter Singer has a thought-provoking piece on Wikileaks' Cablegate, in which he discusses The Treaty of Versailles, one of the most notable pieces of secret diplomacy.
Singer states. "I was reminded of Wilson’s 1918 speech in which he put forward “Fourteen Points” for a just peace to end World War I. The first of those fourteen points reads: “Open covenants of peace must be arrived at, after which there will surely be no private international action or rulings of any kind, but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.”
Is this an ideal that we should take seriously? Is Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a true follower of Woodrow Wilson?
 Since the treaty bore substantial responsibility for several of the conditions that led to World War II, Singer says "it has a fair claim to being the most disastrous peace treaty in human history." He brings up points both pro and con:

Openness is in this respect like pacifism: just as we cannot embrace complete disarmament while others stand ready to use their weapons, so Woodrow Wilson's world of open diplomacy is a noble ideal that cannot be fully realized in the world in which we live.
We could, however, try to get closer to that ideal. If governments did not mislead their citizens so often, there would be less need for secrecy, and if leaders knew that they could not rely on keeping the public in the dark about what they are doing, they would have a powerful incentive to behave better.

Is open diplomacy possible? (project-syndicate.org)


Laci the Chinese Crested said...

While we're at it, the U.S. Constitution with its talk about "We the People" was written in secret. They even kept the windows closed and had heavy drapes drawn over them!

mud_rake said...

Laci- I believe that was because of the Loyalists lingering outside of the building.

Microdot- to answer your question, open diplomacy has seldom existed. Just think of the recent 'diplomwacy' or rather 'deal' between Obama and McConnell in which Nancy Pelosi was barred.