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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fearing Wikileaks

Here's why Americans (and everyone else) ought to be concerned about Wikileaks.

Let's go to the videotape.

More from ABC News' Jake Tapper here.

So should we be concerned about Wikileaks? If it's a one-time event, it means that the US will have to rebuild the trust of other countries, some of whom - mostly in the Arab world - have got to be embarrassed about what came out in their names. That will be no small task but it should be a possible task. For other countries - like Israel - it should be possible to brush off this episode.

However, if this becomes a regular occurrence, it would seriously impact the United States' ability to conduct foreign policy.

Michelle Malkin is upset by the fact that the United States was specifically targeted (there's little doubt about that).
For those of you catching up after the holidays, Allahpundit at Hot Air has the most thorough coverage and analysis of the developing story here. Key passage on the anti-American agenda driving the leaks, the transnationalist left’s use of the “hypocrisy” card, and the cowardly, selective publication of our diplomatic communications versus other nations:
The aim, transparently, is to embarrass the target, but since that’s too petty a reason to justify so vicious a tactic, the exposure is unfailingly dressed up as some sort of high-minded attempt to make the target “live by his principles.” If you take this argument seriously, any confidential communication between government officials should be fair game for leaking so long as it somehow contradicts or questions, however glancingly, state policy. (Hypocrisy!) But of course, they’re not limiting publication to only those documents that undermine official State Department positions; as noted above in the context of Turkey’s foreign minister, a lot of this stuff will simply be bits of intelligence about various international actors and speculation about their motives. Nothing “hypocritical” about it — but mighty embarrassing. In fact, there’s nothing “hypocritical” about arguably the biggest revelation thus far, the report of North Korea shipping missiles to Iran. That sort of cooperation goes straight back to Bush’s “axis of evil” speech; theories about collaboration between the two are a staple of proliferation analyses. There’s no U.S. government “lie” that needs to be exposed there, in other words. It’s simply a case of Wikileaks trying to weaken America’s hand by revealing some of the cards that it’s holding. (emphasis added)

Two other points. One: Note that they don’t say they wouldn’t have published the documents if the crucial hypocrisy component was missing. On the contrary, in their sonorous meditation about George Washington, [the Guardian editors] suggest that they would have done so anyway even though the damage to U.S. interests would have been greatly diminished. That’s further evidence that it’s confidentiality itself that they object to, not hypocrisy, and it follows Simon Jenkins’s lead in ignoring the usual balancing act when weighing the merits of a leak between the sensitivity of the information and the public’s interest in knowing about it. Wikileaks would have you believe that confidential government communications are so inherently anti-democratic that exposing them is virtually always in the public interest, no matter what collateral damage might result. No country in the world has ever followed that standard and no country ever will. (emphasis added) Two: To the extent that they do take the hypocrisy standard seriously, does that mean that less democratic nations aren’t fair game for leaks because, hey, at least they’re living by their principles? Wikileaks’s lack of interest to date in revealing state secrets of, say, China is mighty conspicuous given that cracking Beijing’s culture of secrecy would be a far greater intel coup than publishing U.S. diplomatic cables and might even have major political repercussions for the Chinese regime. But then, China isn’t “hypocritical,” you see. And of course China also isn’t likely to tolerate damaging leaks like this the way liberal western nations are…

Many Foggy Bottom officials have proven feckless under both GOP and Democrat administrations. Hillary Clinton’s “smart power” deserved mockery, for sure. But whatever microscopic kernel of constructive criticism may have motivated the Wikileakers and their abettors is galactically outweighed by the destructive sabotage of secure diplomatic communications.
I don't know whom the leakers thought they were helping, but I live in one of the very few countries that might actually have gained from the massive document release. And that benefit is short-term.

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