Shortly before I went to work at the State Department, back in the last century, I asked Henry Kissinger for advice, and he had quite a bit of it. One terse statement has stayed with me: “the only reason to write a memo is to have it leaked.”
He wasn’t the first to say that (I’m sure Talleyrand said something very similar), and I have no doubt that some of the “classified” cables were written specifically for that purpose. But even though some of the reported remarks of foreign leaders were undoubtedly given to Americans in order to deceive us or manipulate us, still and all I find the cables I’ve read so far to be very helpful to anyone trying to understand the world.
It will no doubt annoy the Israel haters no end to discover that Arab leaders seem to be even more concerned about Iran than the crowd in Jerusalem, for example. And it’s very helpful for everyone to see that the “Axis of Evil” was real–the strategic cooperation on missiles and nukes between Iran and North Korea (with Chinese complicity) was intense.
No surprise that the cables have been denounced as “mischief” by Ahmadinejad, since they document the fraudulent electoral “results” that gave him a second term, and present the ghastly details of Iran’s use of the Muslim version of the Red Cross for espionage and murder in Iraq. Indeed, if I wanted to invent evidence to document the case against Iran that I have been making for twenty years or more, I could not have done better than the State Department cables just released.
First, it would save the world a lot of time and trouble if most of this stuff were published, rather than classified.
Second, the leakers should be punished violently. It has to be possible for our leaders to talk privately, both among themselves and with foreigners. If it’s all going to be leaked, candor will vanish and we will be locked into a wilderness of mirrors.