WikiLeaks cables are giving the world a glimpse of the hypocrisy and the double talk that world leaders are engaged in. It is one thing for unelected, assorted despots, dictators, kings and princes in the Middle East to secretly make remarks they don't want their people to know about; it is quite another to discover leaders of western democracies engaging in a similar deception. Democracy, governance and the process of decision making that could have profound consequences for tens of millions of people, American, British and worldwide are at stake.
Britain's Guardian Newspaper reports on a meeting between Liam Fox, the current British Defence Minister and the US ambassador, Louis Susman, a year ago. In a 10 December 2009 cable marked "confidential", Susman recorded "Liam Fox affirmed his desire to work closely with the US if the Conservative Party wins power.......adding that we (Conservatives) intend to follow a much more pro-American profile in procurement." He reportedly went on: "Increasing US-UK "interoperability is the key' since the US and UK will continue to fight together in the future"
At the time, Liam Fox was the shadow Defence Minister, and the cables quoted him saying "US and UK will continue to fight together in the future." This statement shows contempt for democracy, its institutions and us, the people of Britain. These are the remarks dictators make knowing that their word is law, and should not be made by a democratically elected politician, and to make them after the disastrous illegal war against Iraq beggars belief.
Moreover, such general commitment was apparently given, regardless of who might be in the White House in the future. This is alarming to the people of the US, Britain and millions across the world who could well be at the receiving end of such wars. Have Britain's politicians finally become totally compliant puppets of the US? It seems its leaders are falling over each other to prostrate themselves before whoever occupies the White House. The labour party, for obvious reasons, is completely relaxed about such revelations; they could not possibly object given the role Tony Blair played in the illegal war against Iraq as cheerleader in chief. Many liberal minded people hoped that with their new leader, Ed Miliband, they would protest at such a dangerous irresponsible commitment. The liberal democrats who had behaved honourably in opposing the Iraq war are now part of the government, and have remained silent. We now have a situation where there is no opposition, no one to question and challenge the British role in future wars.
The thought of British leaders promising unquestioning and irresponsible support for future wars without any qualifications regarding international institutions and international law, and without rigorous questioning and analysis fills me, and I expect millions across the globe, with fear and trepidation.
The Guardian also reports "Two senior Whitehall officials assured US diplomats that the renewal of Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent would go ahead, apparently contradicting then Prime Minister Gordon Brown's public statements proposing some disarmament by the UK, according to leaked US embassy cables. The London embassy sent a secret cable back to Washington last autumn reporting conversations with the two civil servants, Richard Freer and Judith Gough, in which they cast doubt on the significance of Brown's announcement at the UN general assembly that Britain might cut the number of planned new Trident submarines from four to three."
This cable is disturbing in a number of ways. We have unelected British civil servants assuring the US that the elected prime minister of Great Britain does not mean what he says, or the other interpretation, which is even more serious, that Gordon Brown himself did not mean what he said and his statement was intended for "Johnnie foreigners" in the UN general assembly. But it is more than that; he was also misleading the British people by publically saying one thing and meaning another. Are we now witnessing the death of true democracy?
Of course, the WikiLeaks disclosures would have had no impact had politicians conducted themselves in ways that most people would consider honest and decent. People have always been cynical about politicians, but here we have levels of deception that have serious and profound implications for the lives of people in the west and across the world. Decisions and promises to conduct wars should not be made in such a cavalier manner; these decisions could cause death and injury to hundreds of thousands of people as they have done in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to thousands in the west, and have degraded the lives of millions.
Endless wars eat up hundreds of billions if not trillions of tax dollars; money that could be spent to improve the lives of people in the West and to alleviate poverty and suffering worldwide.
US president Abraham Lincoln's famous speech in 1863 gave the world the moral case for democracy: "government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." These words could not be more relevant in today's America and Britain than at any time in modern history. Let us shout it loud and demand that our politicians live by it.