Wikileaks circa 1917?

The recent dispatch of information on US diplomatic comments and dispatches has our students in a tizzy, and very interested in what has been released about their countries.

I for one found it fascinating and then was reminded of one of the original wikileakers – VI Lenin. One of his first acts as head of the Russian government was to publish all of the Allies’ secret treaties.

The result was much like those for Wikieaks – no one was all that surprised of the content of those treaties but it was shocking to have it print, or to hear about it so bluntly. The Central Powers must have known that Russia wanted the Straits, Italy wanted Dalmatia and everyone wanted colonies. But to actually see it in print caused outrage. The countries that had been taking the moral high ground – Britain and France – were seen as using territory to entice its allies into war.

In the end, did the publication of the secret treaties change anything Probably not in terms of the outcome of the world. But, it established a distinction between the new government and gave a rationale for withdrawal from the war. It also was a show of brazen power; Lenin was showing off the access he had to the innermost workings of the Allied powers. And perhaps that is the lesson to be learned.

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