Bioethicist Peter Singer has a thought-provoking piece on Wikileaks' Cablegate, in which he discusses The Treaty of Versailles, one of the most notable pieces of secret diplomacy. Since the treaty bore substantial responsibility for several of the conditions that led to World War II, Singer says "it has a fair claim to being the most disastrous peace treaty in human history." He brings up points both pro and con:
Openness is in this respect like pacifism: just as we cannot embrace complete disarmament while others stand ready to use their weapons, so Woodrow Wilson's world of open diplomacy is a noble ideal that cannot be fully realized in the world in which we live.
We could, however, try to get closer to that ideal. If governments did not mislead their citizens so often, there would be less need for secrecy, and if leaders knew that they could not rely on keeping the public in the dark about what they are doing, they would have a powerful incentive to behave better.
Is open diplomacy possible? (project-syndicate.org)
via @EvgenyMorozov (Image: Detail from William Orpen (1919). The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, 28th June 1919. via Wikimedia Commons)
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