My colleagues have all been caught up in the public relations and diplomatic chaos that Wikileaks has wrecked for multiple governments around the world, especially for the United States governments. Unfortunately, for most of us and other academics, the so-called “leaks” by the website created by Julian Assange come as no surprise to those who bother to keep up with the news and critically assess what comes out of the “black box” that is foreign policy for many nations like China and the US.
Of course, this site contributes to positive mechanism of cyberanarchy by making governments transparent and thus allowing the masses to have access to proof that their government lacks accountability. Wikileaks would add a new dimension to game theory in terms of information dissemination to the public, which would spark democratic pressure on existing governments in terms of their foreign policies. The potential good is that the general public will force their government to smarten up their moral behaviour towards other countries and encourage international cooperation over conflict, although granted the general public must be informed democrats to do so. It is perhaps important to note that Wikileaks does not expose anything that the powerful countries already did not know, due to their intelligence agencies.
The more prominent worry implicated by these “leaks” is undermining the mien and utility of diplomacy (besides jeopardizing my future career aims). In negotiations (especially surrounding warfare), the secretiveness of officials trying to discuss peace and less belligerent measures than warfare is undermined by sites like Wikileaks. To best understand this, consider Plato’s “noble lie” where such white lies protect the “good life” of the people. Such leaks make governments more distrustful of each other, instead of fostering an international arena striving towards common governance and cooperation on issues like (human) security, human rights, the environment, etc.
However, it is a far stretch to label the releases of Wikileaks as cyberterrorism. The Internet has often lacked epistemological certitude in terms of the validity and verity of information put on such sites as Youtube, Wikipedia, etc. I’m not saying that we should underestimate the potential of Wikileaks to bring down whole governments, but at the same time, an ethical assessment of the purpose and practice of this site is certainly in order.