November 30, 2010

THOUGHTS ON THE POLITICS OF WIKILEAKS, from Pejman Yousefzadeh. “In addition to their being no big lies, there are also no surprises–at least, no surprises for anyone paying attention to foreign affairs. Anyone really surprised by the fact that in private, Arab leaders are just as worried about a nuclear Iran as is Israel? Anyone really surprised that Nicolas Sarkozy has been said to have an authoritarian streak, that Silvio Berlusconi is too much of a party animal for his (and his country’s) own good, that democracy is dead in Russia, and that the Chinese are sick of the antics of the North Koreans? Oh, sure, the cables are very interesting, and informative. But are they all that shocking in their content? Hardly; we all are familiar with the storylines found in them. The titillating aspect of the cables is that they confirm what many have suspected regarding the opinions that are held by American diplomats, and that many of the cables make their points in interesting and colorful language.”

There’s not a lot of damage here to the country, but there’s a lot of damage to the bureaucratic establishment. If I were more suspicious, I would say that this is someone’s effort — perhaps someone burned by leaks in the past Administration — to teach the career bureaucrats who were behind those leaks that leaking may be a bad thing, and that a world in which any statement may be leaked to the press is not a world that’s good for them.