Thanks to Dave Parks for posting this on the UK Left Network. In the light of the Wikileaks, um, leaks, what Trotsky had to say on the secrecy of diplomacy and treaties may be of interest to some readers. The original, 'Statement by Trotsky on the Publication of the Secret Treaties', can be found on the Marxists Internet Archive here. Is Old Trotters correct or hopelessly ultra left? Is there a necessary role for secrecy in international relations?
22 November 1918
Trotsky, iii, 2 p. 64
In publishing the secret diplomatic documents from the foreign policy archives of Tsarism and of the bourgeois coalition Governments of the first seven months of the revolution, we are carrying out the undertaking which we made when our party was in opposition. Secret diplomacy is a necessary tool for a propertied minority which is compelled to deceive the majority in order to subject it to its interests. Imperialism, with its dark plans of conquest and its robber alliances and deals, developed the system of secret diplomacy to the highest level. The struggle against the imperialism which is exhausting and destroying the peoples of Europe is at the same time a struggle against capitalist diplomacy, which has cause enough to fear the light of day. The Russian people, and the peoples of Europe and the whole world, should learn the documentary truth about the plans forged in secret by the financiers and industrialists together with their parliamentary and diplomatic agents. The peoples of Europe have paid for the right to this truth with countless sacrifices and universal economic desolation.
The abolition of secret diplomacy is the primary condition for an honest, popular, truly democratic foreign policy. The Soviet Government regards it as its duty to carry out such a policy in practice. That is precisely why, while openly proposing an immediate armistice to all the belligerent peoples and their Governments, we are at the same time publishing these treaties and agreements, winch have lost all binding force for the Russian workers, soldiers, and peasants who have taken power into their own hands.
The bourgeois politicians and journalists of Germany and AustriaHungary may try to make use of the documents published in order to present the diplomacy of the Central Empires in a more advantageous light. But any such attempt would be doomed to pitiful failure, and that for two reasons. In the first place, we intend quickly to place before the tribunal of public opinion secret documents which treat sufficiently clearly of the diplomacy of the Central Empires. Secondly, and more important, the methods of secret diplomacy are as universal as imperialist robbery. When the German proletariat enters the revolutionary path leading to the secrets of their chancelleries, they will extract documents no whit inferior to those which we are about to publish. It only remains to hope that this will take place quickly.
The workers' and peasants' Government abolishes secret diplomacy and its intrigues, codes, and lies. We have nothing to hide. Our programme, expresses the ardent wishes of millions of workers, soldiers, and peasants. We want the rule of capital to be overthrown as possible. In exposing to the entire world the work of the ruling classes, as expressed in the secret diplomatic documents, we address the workers with the call which forms the unchangeable foundation of our foreign policy: 'Proletarians of all countries, unite.'