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Stop press: The world is full of *ß@!€¢§¬∆'s !!!

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Paul Mason | 10:01 UK time, Monday, 29 November 2010

In a devastating release of diplomatic cables today we have learned that governments spy on each other, arm each other's adversaries, mess with the internet, obsessively collect chatroom handles of hapless diplomats while missing rather more obvious facts like one guy allegedly being able to download most of their intelligence.

And that central bankers in certain countries have a low opinion of politicians.

The world, in other words, is full of not very nice people, many of whom run countries, and it is blinking dangerous! Therefore most countries take it upon themselves to run intelligence operations; and behind diplomacy there is always the threat of naked force.

I think we will need a long time to sift through what the Wikileaks story tells us about the world we live in. There will new revelations on Newsnight tonight - but beyond the detail it's a slimy, sleazy, alpha-dog eat hound-dog world out there.

It reminds me of the 1860s in a not-very-reassuring way: I am glad I studied at O-level. Certainly the veneer of a serene, rules-based multilateralism is showing thin.


  • Comment number 1.

    I note that not much on Israel has been forthcoming in the Wikileaks disclosures.

    However, expect some 'love-bombing' from a small, but very vocal, section of the population sometime soon!

    Israel recruits citizen advocates in Europe

  • Comment number 2.

    No surprises yet, no resignations. I expect the dirt on each other is fully discounted. Now if there was a revelation that Putin is gay and watches test cricket - now you are talking.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think the collective noun to describe government should be a `futility' of government.

    I am always amazed that ambitious people want to be in charge as the very thing that they feel qualifies them to be in charge actually should disqualify them.

    Madness is not the exclusive property of the insane but to be the government is good therapy.

  • Comment number 4.

    America must have the capability to instantly pull the server plug on Wikileaks ... so either they aint bothered or its deliberated flack.

  • Comment number 5.

    What I didn't know, despite the best efforts of Mr. Bowen and his colleagues of the years, is that half of the Arab world seems pretty keen on crushing the other half, and in rather racially-motivated and grand ways, irrespective of shared faith.

    Yet despite most other media focussing on this aspect, it being pretty interesting news, the views of such as Kevin Maguire so far in some quarters are played up at any opportunity, in that these revolve around gossipy local Westminster WUVI tittle-tattle on a basis that suits some closer to home than anything off-narrative.

    Should Mr. Assange ever get hold of the Balen Report, one can be confident that 'watertight oversight' will be the order of the day. Though one is sure he'd never select such information on a self-censorship basis according to agenda.

  • Comment number 6.

    The Wiki releases are just libertarian media manipulation.

    Wiki-releases planned in advance: Iran‎

  • Comment number 7.

    the world is full of spin, lobbyist, common purpose groups , joe six pack figured just to keep his head down and ignore the goings on, but joe gets to pick up the tab, in times of war will get conscripted, in times of emergency wont get let into the bunker, yes the world is full of selfish know it all gits who presume to think they know what is right

  • Comment number 8.

    Anyone yet said that this is a Republican plot to discredit Obama in the eyes of the World?

  • Comment number 9.

    Wikileaks is doing a great job here, long may it continue.

    The corridors of power are mostly occupied by intelligent deluded and deceptively charming lunatics constrained by a lot of hard won regulatory protocol and institutions designed to constrain their worst excesses.

    Every now and again the lunatics try to break out of the safe environment we have built for them and start probing the strength of those institutions (repeal of Glass Steagal being a good example) chaos ensues and after awhile the normal people take a collective sign, stop getting on with their well balanced lives for a bit and have to (for the sake of their children) spend a bit of time rounding up the nutters and improving the prison facilities again.

    That is the way I see it anyhow! Things will have to get worse before they get better.

  • Comment number 10.


    Just taking Britain as an indicator, Paul: We have 'Citadel Control' (termed 'feudal' by one poster here). Parties, elections and governance are just a charade - a pastime - a sop - a joke. This is repeated, in nuanced variation, across the Western World, and beyond.

    ARE YOU WATCHING TONY Paul? He was our Prime Minister! DISTILLED FROM THE WESTMINSTER ETHOS - utterly deluded and of very limited abiity. (If you doubt that last assertion, watch the Blair/Hitchens debate IN FULL.

    Blair's shallow, inept, blagging is starkly exposed by Hitchens. (Or more accurately by Blair himself!) He is the epitome of defective leadership, as found in SELF-VAUNTED 'CIVILISED DEMOCRACIES'.

    'IT'S THE CULTURE STUPID'. No amount of economics will cure it.

  • Comment number 11.

    @5 Iran of course isn't the Arab world; it's Persian. Even before Islam, there was a cultural fault line here. The Shia/Sunni divide accentuated it. It's like the Catholic/Orthodox = Roman/Byzantine divide in the Balkans, or the Protestant/Catholic divide between North and South Europe which lay at the root of the 30 Years War, amongst other conflicts.

  • Comment number 12.

    Really, Paul, such language...have you been associating with Paxman?

  • Comment number 13.

    I can't believe that you, Paul, or anyone who follows these things is in any way surprised. The only rational explanation of most political behviour is the pursuit of self interest. This is true at the level of the individual politician (where, to pick up on the references in #10 the most important quality for success is the size of one's ego)at the level of political parties: and at the level of Nation states.

    The idea that anyone is motivated to act for the common good is untenable - although some are better than others at dissembling (see, for example, whenever someone talks movingly about about the Brin or the Brish People).

    All very strange, because there are a great many "ordinary" people who seem to have no difficulty in giving to, and working for the benefit of, others. Sadly this quality that would only be a handicap in the dog-eat-dog world of politics: and anyway, they still vote for the top dog.

  • Comment number 14.

    ..The idea that anyone is motivated to act for the common good is untenable ..

    if that were true everywhere would be like somalia. Peace and order does not fall out the sky. it is built by many hands both seen and unseen.

    A political scientist professor explained to me that, in a nutshell, political science is about 'where the power is'.

    One might asks what is power and who has it? How does one acquire it and how does one maintain it? what are its methods? what is its 'toolkit' like a plumber has a bag of tools.

    the only people without self interest are saints. But saints belong in a monastery and are unsuited to dealing with other people's self interest. Is a Sargent Major an egoist for purely his own benefit? There are good uses of the ego.

    In Uk political life both the monarchy anthem and the monarchy oath [i will not say national] are total egoism. 'Glorious and victorious'. Nothing 'umble' about that?

  • Comment number 15.


    The sargant major is projecting a characature of ego, like an actor on a stage, as a means to an end, so I dont think that can be used as an example, a 'saint' could use the same technique when turning over the tables of the money lenders in the temple of his fathers (for example).

    There is, no doubt, an element of that amongst the more well balanced leaders. It is the ones that actually believe it you need to watch so your comment si abit of a distraction really from the above debate.

    'Land of hope and glory', the changing of the gaurd, dressing up in 18th century uniforms and parading around London in the 21st century, I quite like actually, as it is too ridiculous to be taken seriously, yet, a positive sense of unity which, if directed without 'ego' is no bad thing.

    This wikileaks Korean story is the biggest thing around at the moment. It leaves North Korea looking totally isolated on the world stage. Which way will they go? lash out, engage, carry on regardless or collapse internally allowing a new regime to be formed..I hope the suffering of the people of north korea will soon come to an end.

    wikileaks appears to not have an ego so I am hopefull of a positive outcome long term from its exposures.

  • Comment number 16.

    I wonder what to make of this potential Wikileaks:

    Is this a chance to lift up the hood on a major bank and see what nefarious conduct lies within? (I can imagine the shrieks from the Gvt & regulators: "What, there's been gambling going on in Casablanca!")

    Or is this a chance for one of the majors to stick a knife into their opponent's back (a la Lehmans)??

    And if Meltdown 2.0 ensues, will Assange get the blame???

    But, for the time being, it's just a snow news day.

  • Comment number 17.

    Two from Oscar this morning...
    on Wikileaks
    "There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."
    and discovered by serendipity
    “Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.”

  • Comment number 18.

    #16 H_P

    I caught the same story on zerohedge

    Assange stated in the interview:

    'It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume. Usually when you get leaks at this level, it’s about one particular case or one particular violation.
    For this, there’s only one similar example. It’s like the Enron emails. Why were these so valuable? When Enron collapsed, through court processes, thousands and thousands of emails came out that were internal, and it provided a window into how the whole company was managed. It was all the little decisions that supported the flagrant violations.'

    However, Assange goes on to say that the story won't be released until the new year though!

    Who benefits from all of this?

    I still believe it's all just a libertarian media manipulation exercise for the suckers. It must be, the WikiLeaks subject was discussed on NN last night!

  • Comment number 19.

    'And if Meltdown 2.0 ensues, will Assange get the blame???'


    Robert Peston was blamed for Meltdown 1.0 and so far it doesn't seem to have affected his career!

  • Comment number 20.

    I think this might be the Taiwanese equivalent of Newsnight?

    If so, they appear to have summed up the Irish and EU economic crisis in a humorous, but very spot on, 2 minutes.

  • Comment number 21.



    On a similar theme, I can’t help thinking that the Panorama exposure of some allegedly corrupt FIFA officials is a very clever co-ordinated tactic to outflank the Russian bid (who are the favourites) for the World Cup 2018 bid be announced tomorrow at 3:10pm following a vote.

    More interesting still that the panorama programme has been touted as 'harming' England's bid. I am not sure i but that actually...

    That well publicised and controversial programme sends a clear message to FIFA officials that if they were tempted to accept some 'favours' for supporting the Russian bid that they run the risk of a lot of potentially embarrassing scrutiny. If Russia wins it may do so under the threat of a very large shadow, which on the back of the recent allegations against some FIFA officials could be too much for FIFA to risk.

    Hot on the heels of the above Putin has decided not to attend the announcement tomorrow in the last few hours.

    Lets put it this way, I had a few ££ of my winning's obtained gambling errrm I mean Investing in political positions (the election and Ed Milliband) on England winning the bid tomorrow at a healthy 7/4.
    That England price is coming down rapidly now.

    It would be nice to out play the Russians (and without paying any money)in the world cup bid skulduggery stakes, some small compensation for the Polonium poisoning and other misdemeanours.

    COME ON ENGLAND (but without any ego) :)

  • Comment number 22.

    #21 Jericoa
    The cunning plan you discern has some potential flaws.
    1)Putting "cunning" and the English FA in the same plan is somewhat of an oxymoron (a contradiction in terms). That would require the English FA to unlearn a generation of dull incompetence.
    2)Do you think that the Alpha Dog will really be outfoxed by er David Beckham and David Cameron (even working together). Putin will already know if the Russian bid is in the bag so he need not attend, or if the Russian bid has lost, in which case he will avoid the "gracious loser" press conference.
    3)You underestimate the brassnecked arrogance of the leading players in FIFA from Blatter downwards. Do you really believe they actually give a damn what Panorama and the English media think. Why would they? They have reached the top of the greasy pole and now is payback time.
    What will determine the outcome is what will likely provide the most commercially rewarding deal for FIFA. If that happens to be England then great.

  • Comment number 23.


    1) Thats all part of the grand plan... dont you see?

    2) Beckham and Cameron are front men notthe brains of the 'Sting' (Lord Coe and Alan Yentob are behind it). If Putin knew it was in the bag he WOULD definitely attend such an opportunity to massage Russian ego, no doubt about it. However he would avoid the 'gracious defeat' press conference like the plague..

    3) It is not just the English media, similar accusations have been publicised elsewhere (Switzerland for one) and I suspect FIFA officials are still clinging on to a self deluded belief that the world percieves them as a sporting body of ther highest integrity and they would want to preserve that self deluded illusion believed only by themselves.

    4) Please don't take me too seriously, I watched too much Blackadder as akid.. but there again maybe Lord Coe, Alan Yentob and Lord Triesman.

    Besides the world will end in 2012 anyway so this is all academic :)

  • Comment number 24.

    If one were cynical and believed transfers of funds were involved in the Russia 2018 victory, at least the money didn't have too far to travel;)

  • Comment number 25.

    "In a devastating release of diplomatic cables today we have learned that governments spy on each other, arm each other's adversaries, mess with the internet, obsessively collect chatroom handles of hapless diplomats while missing rather more obvious facts like one guy allegedly being able to download most of their intelligence."
    In other words, the like kids in an amusement arcade, our ADHD like goldfish-brained media has been successfully distracted away from the important economic issues


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