Monday, November 29, 2010

Wikileaks

The big news today.

WASHINGTON — A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.

Two thoughts. First, whoever did this is a first-grade asshole and traitor. Second, it is not going to damage our relations with other countries in any significant way.

For 3 months in 1986, I worked as an intern of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs at the State Department. I had a top secret security clearance, but I was just a college student. My first task every day was to go through volumes of diplomatic cables that had come in and pick out those that my boss might want to see. Nothing would have stopped me from walking the pile of cables to the Washington Post on a daily basis. You can't provide communications to thousands of people, and reasonably assume that everyone is going to honor the confidence.

What I also soon learned is that the real world of international politics is not what you read in the newspaper. It is way more complicated, and way more cut-throat than I had ever understood. Obviously, everybody in that professional cut-throat world from any country already knows what I learned that summer.

In short, this is outrageous, yet probably harmless in the end. In fact, reminding the rest of the world that we are not idealistic suckers might be a good thing.