WikiLeaks’ dossier on Bangladesh, a cache of secret US diplomatic cables relating to confidential assessments and off record exchanges about developments in the country. I have viewed and will précis these; they cover the period October-November 2008 and none other exists.Wikileaks’ Bangladesh documents too had every potential for containing spectacular, incendiary revelation. I cannot have been alone in speculating about the confidences and contacts about to be outed and in imagining the horror at this prospect amongst some of Bangladesh’s elite.
Whatever embarrassments for Bangladesh’s political cadres the cables could have contained, their contents in the first instance reveal authors’ leaden pre-occupation with what is best described as American geo-strategic self interest.
found the cumulative effect of these cables to be dirge-like and unsettling – conveying the sense of a Bangladesh and its diaspora perpetually at odds with the mores of wider civil society. It is however important to add the caveat that ‘good’ news rarely get classified as ‘secret’; conversely it is the complex (‘bad’ news) that often pre-occupies the diplomats. We should also bear in mind that Wikileaks’ disclosures for other parts of the world similarly seem to paint unrelentingly unflattering pictures. As well, these cables cover a very brief period of two months towards the end of 2008 – perhaps other cables covering other periods would express a very different picture.One can ponder at the opportunities for Bangladeshi diplomacy and its external relations afforded by these scant cables. It goes without saying that some of the most outstanding diplomatic interventions go unrecorded – including in the Wikileaks cables. Society needs its public servants and we need to blow their trumpets from time to time and not scapegoat the messenger. While Wikileaks does not quite qualify as a recruiting sergeant to the cause.