Times are tough and this is no country for old men. Condemned to destruction are states that respond inadequately to the challenges of the time. What to say, then, of states that are not even at par with responses that are already being jettisoned by the world at large? Case in point: the Pakistani government’s demand to gag those leaking information to websites like WikiLeaks and to take stern action against officials who were responsible. As if they could just be hauled up and put away in a safehouse owned by the intelligence agencies. Brute force is the one-size-fits-all answer of our state to everything. There are some problems you can’t throw money at. There are some problems you can’t throw the book at. And now that the digital age provides excellent levels of anonymity to whistleblowers, there are some problems you just can’t scare away using brawn. This doesn’t mean, of course, that the US won’t try. The WikiLeaks team is already facing harassment and its face, Julian Assange, is almost on the run.
Ruffians apart, however, the wiser lot within the American and Western establishment are realizing that their methods of diplomacy are up for an overhaul. This is not necessarily a good thing. Some advocates of transparent government, once champions of WikiLeaks, point out that governments are now going to be even more secretive about their operations. Chains of secrecy within once relatively open organizations are going to be knit more tightly, involving fewer and fewer operatives who know about the big picture.Finally, voices from certain quarters that seek an apology from the Saudis over controversial remarks also need a reality check. The Saudi monarch made those statements in an entirely personal capacity and should not be held accountable for something that is not his declared position. The Iranians have shown maturity over the leaks pertaining to the Saudi remarks about them, which are far more serious. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of their book – PT