Diplomacy: the Eyes Have It

DN Tuesday, November 30, 2010: Please write a paragraph to answer two of the following questions:


  1. U.S. Launches Criminal Probe of WikiLeaks: “The Washington Post reports federal authorities are investigating whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be charged under the Espionage Act of 1917.” What does espionage mean? What penalties did the 1917 Act authorize? Who has been convicted of espionage in the past?
  2. “…the incoming Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, in the United States, Republican Congress member Peter King of New York, says WikiLeaks should be declared a foreign terrorist organization.
    1. PETER KING: I was disappointed when Miklaszewski said, “It does not appear the government is going to be taking tough legal action.” If American lives are at risk and every top military official had said that, then we have to be serious. We should go after them for violating the Espionage Act. The reason I say “foreign terrorist organization” is that they are engaged in terrorist activity. Their activity is enabling terrorists to kill Americans.”
    2. What’s the definition of a foreign terrorist organization? Why is the term “foreign” important? Is it possible to be an “information terrorist?” What are the penalties and permissions authorized by this term?
  3. Noam Chomsky: WikiLeaks Cables Reveal “Profound Hatred for Democracy on the Part of Our Political Leadership:
    1. “We should understand- and the Pentagon Papers is another case in point- that one of the major reasons for government secrecy is to protect the government from its own population. In the Pentagon Papers, for example, there was one volume- the negotiations volume- which might have had a bearing on ongoing activities and Daniel Ellsberg withheld that. That came out a little bit later …the current leaks are- what I’ve seen, at least- primarily interesting because of what they tell us about how the diplomatic service works.”
    2. However, John Feffer of Foreign Policy in Focus writes that “It’s one thing when leaked documents complicate the execution of war. It’s quite another when they complicate the execution of diplomacy. The current trove of material reveals negative comments by Saudi Arabia about Pakistani leader Asif Ali Zardari and by Israel about Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan (for more tidbits, see FPIF contributor Michael Busch’s analysis in Focal Points). These sentiments might be true, but diplomacy is all about saying one thing and believing another – all for the purposes of getting to yes. Like Vegas, what happens in diplomacy sometimes should just stay in diplomacy.”
    3. Which viewpoint do you agree with? Did WikiLeaks get gossipy? Like Ellsberg, should Assange have left out the current negotiations volume?
  4. “The Brookings Institute just a few months ago released extensive polls of what Arabs think about Iran. The results are rather striking. They show the Arab opinion holds that the major threat in the region is Israel- that’s 80. The second major threat is the United States- that’s 77. Iran is listed as a threat by 10%. With regard to nuclear weapons, rather remarkably, a majority- in fact, 57%–say that the region would have a positive effect in the region if Iran had nuclear weapons…What that reveals is the profound hatred for democracy on the part of our political leadership and the Israeli political leadership. These things aren’t even to be mentioned. This seeps its way all through the diplomatic service…When they talk about Arabs, they mean the Arab dictators, not the population, which is overwhelmingly opposed to the conclusions that the analysts here- Clinton and the media- have drawn.”
    1. “Profound hatred” is strong language. Do you agree? How does Derrick Jensen’s assertion that “no one hates when they can dismiss” hold up?
  5. On Israel and Hamas, Chomsky states that “A siege is an act of war.” What about an embargo, like Cuba, Iraq, Iran? War is engagement with other armed soldiers, however, while terrorism is violence against random civilians. Is a siege or an embargo an act of war or of terrorism?
  6. What does it mean to give Israel fighter jets in exchange for a three-month freeze on settlements, with the US promise that it won’t try to extend it?
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1 Response to Diplomacy: the Eyes Have It

  1. vcoraggio says:

    1)Espionage: involves an individual obtaining information that is considered confidential without permission of the holder of the information.
    The penalty of the 1917 Act is completely up to local US Attorney’s and has had varied punishment from three and a half months in prison to being executed like the Rosenbergs.
    Other people who have been prosecuted for Espionage are Kate Richards O’ Hare (Socialist), Eugene V. Debs (Socialist), Robert Goldstein, and e.e. cummings.

    2)I agree with Noam Chomsky and do not think Wikileaks got “gossipy”. I don’t think they’re naming names and getting personal for the attention. I think they’re trying to both interest and inform the public about what’s going on in their own government. I think too much is already being withheld from the public. Also, why is an informed public such a bad thing? The only reason I can think of is if the governments making decisions that are not in the public’s best interest.

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