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Re: diary for comment

Released on 2012-02-28 15:00 GMT

Email-ID 1058451
Date 2010-12-07 03:13:46
Nice work threading the needle on this one. Couple thoughts:

Make clear and link back to our diary from last week that no serious
person doubts that international diplomacy entails duplicity and
deception. Read machiavelli.

Also, whatever wikileaks can claim to have achieved, it has also
substantially undermined candid exchange between nations. Diplomacy
necessarily and has always entailed discretion and confidence. Without
unveilling anything of watergate or even mcchrystal rolling stone
revelatory, they've (without cause, other than the principle of the thing)
thrown back the curtain that allows nations to function in a pragmatic
sense, if not a rhetorical one -- thereby undermining the process without
any clear gain. (I'm rambling on this graph a bit so don't run with it
verbatim, but trying to emphasize that he's undermined how nations have
interacted for hundreds of years for no clear reason, so as fun as these
are to read, it's a little unproductive in the middle of a period of
serious geopolitical maneuvering...)

"...technological advancements have long since minimized the utility of
mobile archery..." Need something about horse-mobile


From: Marko Papic
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2010 19:59:35 -0600 (CST)
To: Analyst List
ReplyTo: Analyst List
Subject: diary for comment

Julian Assange, spokesman for Wikileaks, said over the weekend that
"geopolitics will be separated into pre- and post- Cablegate phases." A
number of developments on Monday seemed to support his bold thesis. But
STRATFOR nonetheless disagrees.

Another batch of released cables on Monday included a note from the U.S.
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton asking U.S. diplomats abroad to gather a
list of sites sensitive to U.S. national security interests. In the cable,
Clinton asked for an updated list of sites "which, if destroyed, disrupted
or exploited, would likely have an immediate and deleterious effect on the
United States." The disclosure sparked immediate outrage with U.S.
officials, with the U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley
commenting that the release "amounts to giving a targeting list to groups
like al-Qaida".

Meanwhile, STRATFOR sources in the U.S. as well as foreign intelligence
agencies and diplomatic corps have continued on Monday to speak to us
about how the leaks have indeed had a negative effect on their ability to
conduct diplomatic business as usual. A senior foreign diplomat of a
critical country to Washington's interests working inside the U.S.
revealed to us that they are apprehensively waiting to see if their name
is in the cables. Their candor with U.S. diplomats - often done at the
expense of home government and as an attempt to build credibility with
U.S. counterparts - may very well cost them their job if conversations are
revealed. A precedent has been set within that country's foreign ministry,
the diplomat acknowledged, of pulling back on speaking honestly about
government deficiencies with U.S. officials.

U.S. intelligence and diplomatic officials have also expressed
frustration, with particularly negative implications for operations in the
Middle East. The U.S. intelligence community is also looking for ways to
further compartmentalize information (LINK:
) to prohibit similar disclosures in the future.

Repercussions of Cablegate therefore are serious and global, not confined
only to American statecraft. Diplomacy and intelligence professions may
very well consider classifying its eras as pre- and post- Cablegate.

But we take issue with the thesis that the Cablegate will mark geopolitics
itself. Geopolitics is a set of constraints imposed primarily by geography
-- with demographics and technology playing roles as well -- that limit
strategic options for leaders. Belgium may want to be a world power - and
it may have dabbled in the pursuit of such power in the jungles of the
Congo -- but its existence is defined by its geography as a buffer between
France and Germany. Mongolia may once have dominated vast stretches of the
Eurasian steppe, but technological advancements have long since minimized
the utility of mobile archery.

One could argue that Cablegate introduces a new set of constraints,
constraints of open information that will limit how governments pursue
their national interests. But the episode does not actually affect one set
of countries disproportionately over others. In fact, as much as the U.S.
will now be hampered in intelligence sharing among its diplomats and
intelligence officials a much less technologically advanced country will
be hampered in getting its point across in a frank manner. It is not clear
if anyone wins or loses. Power structures established by geography,
demographics and technology remain unaffected. One continues to be either
constrained or enabled by their particular circumstances.

Diplomacy and intelligence work are crafts of manipulating and alleviating
the constraints of geopolitics. They are not constraints or enablers
themselves. Diplomats and intelligence officials will adapt to the new set
of constraints in their work --much as they adapted to the telegraph or
the photocopy machine -- and this will take time, resources and training.
But ultimately geopolitics remains unaffected.

Perhaps we have misread Assange's point. Perhaps behind the thesis that
Cablegate would change geopolitics is not a simple argument of new
constraints and enablers emerging, but rather the assumption that the
revelation of supposed cynicism and insidious scheming of U.S. diplomats
would by itself create a call for change within the American - and global
-- society. This has not happened. In fact, the U.S. public - as well as
publics across the globe - seem to be very much aware of what their
diplomats are doing and how they are going about their business. They are,
as Joseph Stalin once wrote, quite aware that "sincere diplomacy is no
more possible than dry water or wooden iron."


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Marko Papic

Geopol Analyst - Eurasia


700 Lavaca Street - 900

Austin, Texas

78701 USA

P: + 1-512-744-4094