Some stray thoughts on the release of State Department cables by WikiLeaks:
• The infantile cartoon worldview of Julian Assange and the anti-Americanists he speaks for is undermined by the revelations in the document dump. As Dan Drezner notes, while Assange “clearly thinks he’s blown the doors off of American hypocrisy,” in fact, Foreign Policy managing editor Blake Hounshell is correct in his observation that “the U.S. is remarkably consistent in what it says publicly and privately.” In fact…
• Left-wingers, paleoconservatives, so-called “realist” — those who style themselves the “reality-based community” — are in fact far further removed from reality than their neocon hate-objects. David Frum runs down “who really should be embarrassed” by various revelations:
• Those who pooh-poohed George W. Bush’s “axis of evil.” WikiLeaks confirms that Iran and North Korea have for years been sharing weapons technology.
• Those who suggest that it’s some “Israel lobby” or Jewish cabal that is driving the confrontation with Iran. WikiLeaks confirms that the region’s Arab governments express even more anxiety than Israel about the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
• Those who have condemned Israel for inspecting or impeding Red Crescent ambulances. WikiLeaks confirms that during the 2006 Lebanon war, Iran smuggled weapons to Hezbollah in Red Crescent vehicles, including ambulances.
• Those who have appeased Red Crescent demands that Israel’s Red Magen David be excluded from international Red Cross organizations. The Red Crescent has been thoroughly penetrated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and is regularly used as a tool of Iranian foreign policy.
• Those who lamented that Israel’s interception of the Turkish blockade-runner Mevi Marmara would alienate Turkey as a key U.S. ally: The U.S. government itself has for years regarded the Turkish government as trending on its own impetus toward anti-Western Islamist radicalism.
And so forth. Frum concludes that, if anything, the leak makes a military strike against Iran more politically feasible.
• Yes, this will most likely get people killed. Toby Harndon picks out an example:
As for Assange’s protests that no one’s life would be put at risk, check this out. The name of the source has been redacted. But how many UK-educated engineers from prominent Pre-Revolution Isfahan families who once owned a large factory in Iran and are former national fencing champions of Iran, former presidents of the Iran Fencing Association and former vice-presidents of an Azerbaijan sports association do you think there are out there?
John Bolton argues that Bradley Manning, the WikiLeaks source, should be charged with treason and put to death. There’s certainly a case to be made.
• The damage goes beyond compromising sources. Drezner predicts that the government’s reaction is likely to lead to “both less transparency and less effective policy coordination.” The latter point — that WikiLeaks will discourage intelligence sharing — will make intelligence failures more likely, he notes. The former point is more devastating as a critique of WikiLeaks on its own terms; Assange and his gang are not champions of government transparency, they are enemies of it. A handful of responsible national security reporters hold the government accountable by cultivating sources with access to classified information, building trust that they will use their access responsibly. The response to WikiLeaks will make those reporters’ jobs harder.