There are now thousands upon thousands of pages open to the public eye, showing the intricacies of America’s foreign relations with virtually every major world power. The details are engrossing, down to what people had for dinner to major initiatives.
But the repercussions of these leaks are widespread, and may not end for months, if not years. And mostly, it damages the security of not just the United States, but world peace in many regions around the world.
Just a few examples:
1. Leaks showing the Sunni regimes around the Middle East fear the Iranian military threat much more than Israel. It significantly increases the likelihood of Iran considering attacking its Arab neighbors long before threatening Israel, which further destabilizes the region. The irony of these leaks, however, is that Israel has largely been proven to be correct in their assessment of the situation, while the Obama Administration appears to be once again one step behind.
2. Apparently the Chinese are starting to realize the growing threat of North Korea to their own best interests. In that vein, senior Chinese officials have stated that they would prefer a unified Korea under the control of Seoul. This likely diminishes the leverage China has with the already insane North Korean leadership, and likely just increases that states already extreme paranoia.
3. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (and predecessor Condoleeza Rice before her) actively tried to obtain intelligence material at the United Nations. No surprise, but doesn’t really increase our standing in that world body.
4. Iran is actively obtaining missile technology from North Korea that can easily threaten the entire continent of Europe.
5. In the never ending quest to close Guantanamo, American diplomats waved large carrots in front of foreign nations to take the multitude of dangerous suspects remaining in the Cuban base.
6. Numerous stories about Turkey, an American ally, have brought about a possible leadership battle. Turkey was accused of possibly supporting Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI ), and several top ministers were accused of islamist tendencies, making Turkey a questionable ally at best.
7. Supposed American ally Pakistan would not allow the United States to secure highly enriched nuclear fuel from a Pakistani nuclear research facility, largely because of local political considerations.
This lists go on and on.
This is less a political scandal than a diplomatic nightmare. Diplomacy can not occur without secret negotiations. The needs and wants of countries, aired in the open, can only lead to disaster.
Wikileaks argues that they are performing a humanitarian duty. Nonsense. This is one of two things. It could be that these fools have such a belief of self importance that they don’t realize the damage they are doing, that simply that the concept of open information is a goal unto itself.
The second possibility is that these idiots are purposefully trying to damage the United States and its relative hegemony as the world’s only superpower.
I think the latter is more likely. These are people who hated George W. Bush with a passion, but generally hate America’s standing in the world. They understand that we deal with a lot of gruesome world figures, and the clean cloth civilization we live in often cannot accept that dichotomy. And so, the release of this information, without any forethought on consequences, damages us all.
Some liberals, such as Peter Beinart, are trying to minimize the significance of this document dump. Maybe it is being overplayed, but the damage, whatever and however severe it may be, may last for a very long time. This does real damage to American diplomacy, and in turn, to President Barack Obama’s standing in the world. And since one of his primary goals was to elevate American prestige, this does damage to his administration as well. Liberals can spin that any way they would like…but that is the reality. If you were a foreign country, trying to keep something secret…would you share information to this State Department? I doubt it. That loss of faith in our foreign diplomats makes every diplomatic mission around the world more difficult, and less likely to achieve its goals.
Ultimately, there is little America or its allies can do about Wikileaks. In an era of free press and internet access, Wikileaks is a demon we must live with. But the investigations of how such sensitive information could land in the hands of a low Private First Class member of the military, Bradley Manning, will have to be investigated. Clearly, access to information is essential to those that need it…but allowing to fall into anyone’s hands who at a whim can release that information is unacceptable.
But one thing is sure. In this dangerous world, release of this information, largely documenting the work that honest people trying to keep world peace and save lives, does exactly the opposite. Lives will be lost because of this leak…it is just a question of where, when, and how many.