Leaked cables from WikiLeaks, a non-profit media organization that has gained notoriety this year from publishing the Afghanistan War Logs and the Iraq War Logs, has touched off what may be the biggest diplomatic and international firestorm yet with the release of the first few hundred of over 250,000 U.S. State Department cables that allegedly were obtained by U.S. Army intelligence analyst PFC Bradley Manning.
The biggest thread from the leaked cables so far seems to be that Arab countries wish to isolate Iran as much as America. Many Arab countries in recent years seem to have been as suspicious of Iran as the U.S. That is what a large portion of the New York Times' coverage and Le Monde's coverage has focused on.
The cables released show: a United Arab Emirates' leadership convinced "the logic of war" dominates the region because of the existential threat an Iran with nuclear weapons would pose and thus the reason for "obsessive efforts to build up the UAE's armed forces," Saudi Arabia "urged" Iran's foreign minister to "spare us your evil," Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said told Admiral William Fallon, then commander of US CENTCOM, "Iran is a big country with muscles and we must deal with it," an Omani minister suggested Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar would desire a US attack on Iran, Kuwait's military intelligence chief told General David Petraeus that "Iran was supporting Shia groups in the Gulf and extremists in Yemen," General Omar Suleiman, intelligence chief of Egypt, called Iran "a significant threat to Egypt...supporting jihad and spoiling peace," and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek is described as someone with a "visceral hatred for the Islamic Republic" who sees "the Syrians and Qataris as sycophants to Tehran and liars themselves."
The contents of the cables show definitive diplomatic strains between Arab countries and Iran. While the leaked State Department cables that touch on Iran issues reveal scorn for Iran, they do not explain whether the scorn has a visible geopolitical basis or if, perhaps, information or intelligence from the US has contributed to the coloring of Arab leaders' worldviews.Although the cable is from thirty years old, one cable might lead one to wonder if this is how the US still regards diplomatic efforts by Iranian leaders:
"THE DIFFICULTIES WE HAVE ENCOUNTERED ARE A PARTIAL REFLECTION ON THE EFFECTS OF THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION, BUT WE BELIEVE THE UNDERLYING CULTURAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL QUALITIES THAT ACCOUNT FOR THE NATURE OF THESE DIFFICULTIES ARE AND WILL REMAIN RELATIVELY CONSTANT"
"PERHAPS THE SINGLE DOMINANT ASPECT OF THE PERSIAN PSYCHE IS AN OVERRIDING EGOISM. ITS ANTECEDENTS LIE IN THE LONG IRANIAN HISTORY OF INSTABILITY AND INSECURITY WHICH PUT A PREMIUM ON SELF-PRESERVATION. THE PRACTICAL EFFECT OF IT IS AN ALMOST TOTAL PERSIAN PREOCCUPATION WITH SELF AND LEAVES LITTLE ROOM FOR UNDERSTANDING POINTS OF VIEW OTHER THAN ONE'S OWN"
In addition to the cables dealing with Iran, other cables reveal: the Yemeni government was covering up US drone strikes against al Qaeda, the Chinese authorities possibly orchestrated a "hacking campaign" into computers of Google and Western governments, U.S. and South Korean officials' interest in creating a unified Korea should North Korea implode as a result of economic or political troubles, the US' unsuccessful effort since 2007 to remove "highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani research reactor out of fear it could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device," American diplomatic bargaining with countries like Slovenia to "help empty the Guantanamo prison by resettling detainees," Saudi donors continuing to act as chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like al Qaeda, and an absurd but sadly typical instance where Afghanistan's vice president Ahmed Zia Massoud was found to be carrying $52 million while visiting the UAE and was "ultimately allowed to keep" the money "without revealing the money's origin or destination."
There's also this exchange between White House counterterrorism adviser and Saudi King Abdullah, where Abdullah suggested putting chips in detainees after Brennan discussed America's intention to shut down Guantanamo:
HOW TO TRACK DETAINEES: "I've just thought of something," the King added, and proposed implanting detainees with an electronic chip containing information about them and allowing their movements to be tracked with Bluetooth. This was done with horses and falcons, the King said. Brennan replied, "horses don,t have good lawyers," and that such a proposal would face legal hurdles in the U.S., but agreed that keeping track of detainees was an extremely important issue that he would review with appropriate officials when he returned to the United States.
While the contents have implications, each leak seems to garner greater focus than what is revealed. Even though this is the third leak of its kind, the world continues to be shocked by the magnitude of information and the possible implications of the information revealed.
Politicians and other world leaders have called for prosecutions or action against WikiLeaks. For example, Rep. Peter King, a Republican of New York, now requests that WikiLeaks be designated a "foreign terrorist organization." Ignoring his past with the IRA, he presses for intimidation and oppression of an organization that is showing the true nature of US foreign policy.
To put the leak in perspective, each newspaper that published articles on the leak published at least one op-ed explaining the decision to publish the information. Such pieces provide explanation for why it is not the press' job to protect government. (Something the New York Times and other newspapers in the country have significant trouble understanding as they are consistently on the side of people in power; the Times, while given special access, chooses to brief the US government ahead of publishing to minimize the devastating impact of the contents).
Myths of endangering lives have been propagated with each leak, but that myth, which was attached to the leak of the Iraq War Logs and Afghan War Logs, the leaked "Collateral Murder" video, and with what is being referred to as "Cablegate," is slowing losing its ability to stick. As McClatchy' s Nancy Youssef writes, "American officials in recent days have warned repeatedly that the release of documents by WikiLeaks could put people's lives in danger. But despite similar warnings before the previous two releases of classified U.S. intelligence reports by the website, U.S. officials concede that they have no evidence to date that the documents led to anyone's death."
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