Wikileaks and the sabotage of U.S. diplomacy
No American should take joy, pleasure, or satisfaction from the untold, devastating ways in which the coordinated Wikileaks document dump of hundreds of thousands of State Department cables — nearly half of which are “secret” or “classified”– has undermined U.S. diplomacy.
Here’s the left-wing Guardian of London crowing that its publication of the cables has “sparked a global diplomatic crisis.”
For those of you catching up after the holidays, Allahpundit at Hot Air has the most thorough coverage and analysis of the developing story here. Key passage on the anti-American agenda driving the leaks, the transnationalist left’s use of the “hypocrisy” card, and the cowardly, selective publication of our diplomatic communications versus other nations:
The aim, transparently, is to embarrass the target, but since that’s too petty a reason to justify so vicious a tactic, the exposure is unfailingly dressed up as some sort of high-minded attempt to make the target “live by his principles.” If you take this argument seriously, any confidential communication between government officials should be fair game for leaking so long as it somehow contradicts or questions, however glancingly, state policy. (Hypocrisy!) But of course, they’re not limiting publication to only those documents that undermine official State Department positions; as noted above in the context of Turkey’s foreign minister, a lot of this stuff will simply be bits of intelligence about various international actors and speculation about their motives. Nothing “hypocritical” about it — but mighty embarrassing. In fact, there’s nothing “hypocritical” about arguably the biggest revelation thus far, the report of North Korea shipping missiles to Iran. That sort of cooperation goes straight back to Bush’s “axis of evil” speech; theories about collaboration between the two are a staple of proliferation analyses. There’s no U.S. government “lie” that needs to be exposed there, in other words. It’s simply a case of Wikileaks trying to weaken America’s hand by revealing some of the cards that it’s holding. (emphasis added)
Two other points. One: Note that they don’t say they wouldn’t have published the documents if the crucial hypocrisy component was missing. On the contrary, in their sonorous meditation about George Washington, [the Guardian editors] suggest that they would have done so anyway even though the damage to U.S. interests would have been greatly diminished. That’s further evidence that it’s confidentiality itself that they object to, not hypocrisy, and it follows Simon Jenkins’s lead in ignoring the usual balancing act when weighing the merits of a leak between the sensitivity of the information and the public’s interest in knowing about it. Wikileaks would have you believe that confidential government communications are so inherently anti-democratic that exposing them is virtually always in the public interest, no matter what collateral damage might result. No country in the world has ever followed that standard and no country ever will. (emphasis added) Two: To the extent that they do take the hypocrisy standard seriously, does that mean that less democratic nations aren’t fair game for leaks because, hey, at least they’re living by their principles? Wikileaks’s lack of interest to date in revealing state secrets of, say, China is mighty conspicuous given that cracking Beijing’s culture of secrecy would be a far greater intel coup than publishing U.S. diplomatic cables and might even have major political repercussions for the Chinese regime. But then, China isn’t “hypocritical,” you see. And of course China also isn’t likely to tolerate damaging leaks like this the way liberal western nations are…
Many Foggy Bottom officials have proven feckless under both GOP and Democrat administrations. Hillary Clinton’s “smart power” deserved mockery, for sure. But whatever microscopic kernel of constructive criticism may have motivated the Wikileakers and their abettors is galactically outweighed by the destructive sabotage of secure diplomatic communications.
The America-haters would have us unilaterally disarm diplomatically under the guise of the “public’s right to know.” This is suicide.
Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini described the consequences for the world:
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, on a trip to Qatar, said he did not know the content of the files to be released but warned they would “blow up the relationship of trust between states”, according to Italian news agencies.
“It will be the September 11th of world diplomacy,” he said.
Pay attention to which of our enemies, foreign and domestic, are dancing in the streets.
State defends itself:
At their Foggy Bottom headquarters, State has set up an internal working group that is working in shifts around the clock, “monitoring the situation and supporting our senior staff and embassies around the world,” the official said. “We follow the same process whenever a major event occurs.”
Specifically, the cables show that U.S. diplomats in New York were asked to collect Biographic and biometric information on ranking North Korean diplomats. Separate cables disclosed on Sunday show that U.S. diplomats overseas were asked for specific reporting on officials from the Palestinian territories, Paraguay, Bulgaria, and Africa’s Great Lakes region.
The State Department officials emphasized to The Cable the distinction between diplomats who collect information as part of a wide range of duties and intelligence personnel, who have a singular and specific mission. The official also argued that other countries do the same thing and that the intelligence gathered by U.S. diplomats also benefits Washington’s allies.
“Information collection is something that diplomats of every country do every day. These areas of particular interest, they’re not just ours,” the official said. “This is information that’s of use to us, and to our allies and friends with whom we’re trying to solve regional and global challenges.”
“We’re not asking our diplomats to do anything substantially different from what they’ve been doing for eons,” the official continued. “Every diplomat and mission around the world is doing the same thing.”
J.E. Dyer on media glee:
A free press has often meant an adversarial press, and that in itself is not inherently bad. But an adversarial posture is justified by the constructiveness of its goals. There is a noticeably sophomoric element in the mainstream media’s cooperation with WikiLeaks: an indiscriminate enthusiasm for anything that’s being kept secret by the authorities, regardless of its objective value as information.
…The worth of the latest WikiLeaks dump is greater than zero — and greater even than its value in notifying us about Qaddafi’s voluptuous Ukrainian nurse. Its true value lies in confirming what hawks and conservatives have been saying about global security issues. China’s role in missile transfers from North Korea to Iran; Syria’s determined arming of Hezbollah; Iran’s use of Red Crescent vehicles to deliver weapons to terrorists; Obama’s strong-arming of foreign governments to accept prisoners from Guantanamo — these are things many news organizations are reporting prominently only because they have been made known through a WikiLeaks dump. In the end, WikiLeaks’s most enduring consequences may be the unintended ones