It’s Wikileaks Day

Today, Wikileaks begins releasing a huge collection of US embassy cables, and we’re about to discover the degree of skullduggery that’s been going on.

The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in “client states”; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.

This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.

Every American schoolchild is taught that George Washington – the country’s first President – could not tell a lie. If the administrations of his successors lived up to the same principle, today’s document flood would be a mere embarrassment. Instead, the US Government has been warning governments — even the most corrupt — around the world about the coming leaks and is bracing itself for the exposures.

It is to be hoped that every major newspaper with some respect for its job has got people going over these documents carefully. The description above is correct: if we’re to deserve the title of democracy, we must have an informed citizenry.