And thinking about it more, I wonder if the break down in diplomatic actions and language are just a mirror of the breakdown in communication in every other area in current times. I think in the days of the Cold War, there was an unspoken etiquette between all sides
I think that neatly summarizes what's been going on. The United States (along with some other powerful nations that should know better) seem to be abandoning their democratic ideals and respect for the law by taking ever more arbitrary and intrusive unilateral actions whenever they feel their political interests are being threatened. What was once the "intervention" methodology of the old (and often reviled) Soviet Bloc has now spread to the West, largely thanks to the Bush2/Cheney administration and 9/11.
Washington Post's Barton Gellman summarized the Dick Cheney approach to diplomacy in an analysis
Dick Cheney always advocated a very strong, edge-of-the-envelope view on executive power...
... Cheney believes that he's a realist and that he is more realistic about the world than most of his adversaries and critics. He believes the world is an immensely dangerous place, that most people underestimate the risks to the security and well being of the United States, and that if you want to face those risks, there's no namby-pamby, legalistic, rule-bound approach that's going to work. If you want to fight the bad guys, you have to take the gloves off.
Apparently Dick Cheney's remark that "the gloves have come off" has been taken to heart and adopted as our new foreign policy.
... in addition to a lack of a forum for such things, so the idea that a country would have even had to threaten to storm an embassy would never have even occurred because things would never have even gotten this far- a media outlet wouldn't have touched anything like this, and there was no open internet.
I politely disagree.
Back in the day, nobody
(including the US) would have dared storm any embassy for fear of what precedent might be set by doing so. Iran was condemned internationally when "students" stormed the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and took the staff there hostage for 444 days. Even the Iranian government didn't dare claim official responsibility for that move. Which is why the UK is at such pains to find some "legal" way of removing the status of "embassy" from Ecuador's holding before taking any direct action. Because in a nutshell, storming an embassy - any embassy for any reason - is simply not done
. That's why there's still the need for posturing and legal wrangling to somehow find a way to make Ecuador's embassy not
an embassy. (Apparently the UK learned a lesson in "power semantics" from the US: When is a POW not a POW? When they're called "enemy combatants." When is torture not 'torture'? When it's called "enhanced interrogation techniques.")
Regarding the press and media outlets: Back in the late 60s and early 70s, the US press was openly
confrontational about many actions taken by the US government, as well as being unsparing in its criticism of power grabs and abuses of the legal system by the government. (Please remember that President Nixon was brought down by the press. Something the the Republican Party and a host of paid neo-con
pundits have never forgotten - or forgiven.) The same went for the federal courts who viewed a major part of their duty as keeping the government honest and law abiding. All of which was duly watched, reported, and commented on by the press.
Such were the joys of operating in an environment where "freedom of the press" was given more than the lip service it gets today.
Because we've certainly gotten away from all of that nonsense. Amazing what a politically providential terrorist attack and some carefully orchestrated public disinformation and fear-mongering can do to change basic attitudes and understandings.
I think a good part of why the web is becoming increasingly important vector for news gathering is because the corporate-controlled government-friendly media outlets wouldn't normally touch this sort of story. The only thing that seems to be keeping big media honest (at least to a token degree) is that the web provides too many ways to do an end run around the likes of CNN or NBC. (Note: I think the current trend of governments firewalling or otherwise attempting to regulate non-commercial web activity is a good indication of just how real a threat such an open forum poses to The Powers that Be
and their Official Version
of the story.)
The unfortunate side effect is that this has increased the amount of "noise" in the news signal. However, if it is
true that you can't really trust anything you see or read on the web, the same is becoming increasingly true of the so-called ""free" press. Especially in an era when more and more "representative" governments see "threats to national security" - and the public exposure of news which is often nothing more than politically embarrassing
to the government - as one and the same thing.
I don't particular care for Julian Assange's style, or some of the irresponsible behaviors of Wikileaks. But it's important to remember that things like Wikileaks and "unofficial" news reporting is a symptom of a larger problem rather than the cause of a smaller one.
If you can't trust your governments to tell you the truth - and you can't trust the "free press" to keep you informed - then your only alternative becomes taking matters into your own hands. Wkikileaks is one manifestation of that. And once Assange and Wikileaks gets removed from the stage by hook (or more likely crook) another will take their place.
"So it goes."