Wikileaks Embarrassing, but Not the End of Diplomacy in Our Times

The various revelations emerging from the classified material acquired and released by wikileaks.org will certainly prove an embarrassment to U.S. diplomats and to security professionals whose job it is to protect government secrets. “But I just don’t think the world is going to end or diplomacy is going to shut down,” said Boston University’s Andrew Bacevich.

Bacevich, Professor of International Relations and History and author most recently of Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War, suggested that a period of discomfort is inevitable for U.S. diplomats “whose derisive comments” about peers and world leaders became public because of the Wikileaks release of digital reams of classified diplomatic cables, and he acknowledged that it was a shocking lapse that allowed one actor, presumably U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, to access so much classified material. But “the whole thing strikes me as somewhat concocted,” Bacevich said.

Advertisement

“I take note of the level of outrage expressed by U.S. officials and U.S. columnists and heaped on [Wikileaks founder] Julian Assange and Pfc. Manning: ‘They will have blood on their hands.’ Where’s the outrage at more than 4,000 Americans killed in Iraq and the manifest recklessness and incompetence that has informed U.S. policy for far too long.” Marveling at the eagerness of the media to swarm the wikileaks story—Fox commentator Bill O'Reilly called for the execution of Wikileaks’ volunteer staff—Bacevich dryly noted that there have been other vast intelligence failures in U.S. foreign policy in recent years that have cost the nation dearly, certainly at least as much as the so-far speculative losses associated with Wikileaks' data dump, but which remain less explored by the press.

Bacevich thought that within a short time U.S. diplomatic and intelligence gathering initiatives would revert to whatever passes for normal. And “presumably we are going to work very hard to make certain that this doesn’t happen again.” He did not think much of the political grandstanding that has erupted in the aftermath of the Web site’s latest coup. Noting Long Island Congressman Peter King’s call to brand Wikileaks a “terrorist organization,” Bacevich resisted the “cheapening” of the terminology, drawing a comparison to the use of “weapons of mass destruction.”

“When we first used that phrase we were specifically only referring to chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.” Now the term has been used in charges filed against the Times Square Bomber Faisal Shahzad and the would-be Portland bomber Mohamed Osman Mohamud.

Iran figured heavily in the revelations offered up last week. A parade of local Arab figures, including Saudi King Abdullah, were caught out in various exhortations to U.S. officials for a large-scale military operation to defang Iran before its nuclear ambitions made it a regional superpower. Bacevich thought the Iranian cables did not suggest an increased possibility of U.S. intervention in Iran. “I cannot imagine that this president or any other president,” he said, “would make decisions about war and peace based on what some foreign potentate was urging him to do. I think the likelihood of the United States using force [against Iran] is small and will remain that way.”

 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
7 years 8 months ago
I was just listening to a discussion of the Wikileaks diplomatic documents and the consensus was that the winner was Israel and the loser was Iran and it was pointed out that Iran is the main problem in the Mideast and the instigator of nearly all the problems.  Another loser was the current administration's Mideast diplomacy.  Apparently the Saudi king handed Obama his head about how naive he was.



I am sure a lot more will come and most of it will be embarrassing.  At least is good to see some in the State Department get it as to what the causes of problems are in the Mideast. 
7 years 8 months ago
“I take note of the level of outrage expressed by U.S. officials and U.S. columnists and heaped on [Wikileaks founder] Julian Assange and Pfc. Manning: ‘They will have blood on their hands.’ Where’s the outrage at more than 4,000 Americans killed in Iraq and the manifest recklessness and incompetence that has informed U.S. policy for far too long.”

Leave it to an academic to suggest that a man in hiding trying to escape extradition to Sweden for rape, and a man who betrayed his colleagues, endangering the lives of many innocent people, is less blameworthy than the Iraq War and other political decisions with which he disagrees.  And we wonder why college kids have so little moral sense sometimes.
Stanley Kopacz
7 years 8 months ago
Whatever happened to "need to know" in handling classified information?  Why were loads of state department secrets on the military SIPRNET? Who directed that this information reside where it shouldn't and be so widely and readily available?  I'd hang THEM first for stupidity before Assange or Manning.

I hope they don't close Assange up before the promised leaks on corporations.  Now THAT should be interesting.  I'm not sure if this leak and the previous one on the Afghanistan war did any real damage, but it's an opportunity to see what the US government is hiding from its own people and whose interests it is really serving.  It's possibly an opportunity for democracy.

As for the rape charges on Assange, the timing seems rather convenient.  I think they really ARE worried what we'll find out about Goldman-Sachs,  not the wars or the state department.

Advertisement

The latest from america

 A photo panel shows Pennsylvania Bishops Ronald W. Gainer of Harrisburg, David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh, Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Alfred A. Schlert of Allentown, Edward C. Malesic of Greensburg and Lawrence T. Persico of Erie. The Pennsylvania attorney general released a grand jury report Aug. 14 on a months-long investigation into abuse claims spanning a 70-year period in the six dioceses. (CNS photo/courtesy of the dioceses)
The state’s attorney general said that his office’s two-year investigation identified 301 priests who abused children and more than 1,000 victims.
One of the leading novelists of our age on faith, fiction and his distrust of religious institutions.
James T. KeaneAugust 14, 2018
Panel members Ivor Frank and Alexis Jay at a public hearing of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (courtesy of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse)
The new report finds evidence of appalling sexual and physical mistreatment of students as young as 7, as well as a culture of secrecy, at two abbey schools.
David StewartAugust 14, 2018
The Gospel calls on all of us to get past “analysis paralysis,” where direct action is always put off in favor of more research and discernment.
Mary M. McConnahaAugust 14, 2018