Monday, November 29, 2010

Wikileaks and the law of unintended consequences

It would be rather ironic if the Wikileaks material - meant to expose, humiliate and hurt America, and delivered as a scoop to leftie favorites, the Guardian and NYT - ended up exposing, humiliating and hurting Iran and vindicating the worldview of the right. And yet, as the law of unintended consequences kicks in, that could very well happen.

Lee Smith in Tablet gets it exactly right:

What comes through most strongly from the Wikileaks documents, however, is that U.S. Middle East policy is premised on a web of self-justifying fictions that are flatly contradicted by the assessments of American diplomats and allies in the region. Starting with Bush’s second term and continuing through the Obama Administration, Washington has ignored the strong and repeated pleas of its regional allies—from Jerusalem to Riyadh—to stop the Iranian nuclear program. Perhaps the most disturbing revelation in the documents is the extent to which both the Bush and Obama Administrations have concealed Iran’s war against the United States and its allies in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and the Arab Gulf states, even as those same allies have been candid in their diplomatic exchanges with us. U.S. servicemen and -women are being dispatched to combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan where they are fighting Iranian soldiers and assets in a regional war with the Islamic Republic that our officials dare not discuss, lest they have to do something about it.

Members of the Washington policy establishment should be considerably less worried about how the foreign ministries of allied countries respond to the leaks than how the American electorate does.
The "revelations" which seem to have caused most surprise - the Arab hatred and fear of Iran and its nuclear weapons programme, Iranian interference in Iraq and Lebanon - cannot really have surprised anyone who was paying attention to the Middle East, or to various right-wing pundits. But - in addition to our governments - elements in the media, particularly those chosen as vehicles to carry these "shockers" today, have been instrumental in playing them down over the past years and months, choosing to promote instead narratives highlighting Israel's supposed "warmongering". At what point is it going to dawn them that these leaks they are so thrilled about destroy their own credibility - not just America's?

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