Wikileaks: The question is the questions

I’ve been perusing the Wikileaks leak of the State Department’s confidential cables, with an eye toward Latin American affairs. Wikileaks has published “only” 220 documents so far (.1% of the total) so it’s too early to generalize, but this document is interesting:

SUBJECT: (S) REPORTING AND COLLECTION NEEDS: PARAGUAY


The document says State Department diplomats are relied on by “the community” (that is, intelligence agencies) to gather

much of the biographical information collected worldwide. Informal biographic reporting by email and other means is vital to this effort. When it is
available, reporting officers should include as much of the following information as possible: office and organizational titles; names, position titles and other information on business cards; numbers of telephones, cell phones, pagers and faxes; compendia of contact information, such as telephone directories (in compact disc or electronic format if available) and e-mail listings; internet and intranet “handles”, internet e-mail addresses, web site identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent flyer account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information.

That’s annoying but whatever — no great shock. To me, the surprises in this document are twofold: First, what isn’t mentioned. It barely mentions energy or mining, even though those are the main reasons that the U.S. has traditionally been interested in South America.

Second, what is mentioned? Let’s look at a list of countries mentioned in here, and how many times they are mentioned:

Russia 1
Brazil 2
Argentina 3
Chile 3
Bolivia 4
Iran 5
Cuba 8
United States 9
Venezuela 10
Paraguay 40

Among the State Department’s greatest concerns: “The arrival or expansion of Islamic NGOs or leaders with known or suspected radical affiliations” and “Paraguay’s intentions with regard to ratifying Venezuela’s membership in MERCOSUR.”

To me, it’s interesting to see that the U.S.’s main concerns in Paraguay have nothing to do with Paraguay, per se — it’s just, to paraphrase, “how will this country help Islamic terrorists and that Chavez dude?”

The cable is signed by Bush’s secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.

5 thoughts on “Wikileaks: The question is the questions

  1. Francisco Toro

    To me, it’s interesting to see that the U.S.’s main concerns in Paraguay have nothing to do with Paraguay, per se — it’s just, to paraphrase, “how will this country help Islamic terrorists and that Chavez dude?”

    Erm…isn’t this one of those “Newsflash: Bear Shits in Woods!” moments?

    I mean seriously…

  2. Kepler

    What’s new, Setty? As I mentioned, gringoes have been very aware of the large Arab community (and with them a large amount of Muslims, etc) in the Three-Country corner, we know how the Mercosur issue is relevant. What’s new?

  3. Marcus Anonymous

    Setty,

    Would you be disappointed if the primary focus of the State Department was not ripping off the continents mineral wealth? (Today, that country would be China.) Would you be disappointed if the U.S. just wants the rest of the world to be stable, prosperous, and LOW MAINTENANCE.

    Well, when the rest comes out — we’ll see if its all about stealing the continent’s oil or just prevent drug trafficking, terrorism, and illegal immigration.

    What will disappoint you?

    1. sapitosetty Post author

      Good questions. I think I’m undisappointable on this stuff — honestly my main questions in these documents is how true the USA has been to itself, and how right or wrong we observers have been. I just find it amusing that in this cable, at least, the USA appears so fixated on Venezuela and to a lesser degree Iran.

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