Wikileaks: Sharif Don't Like it, Either


What's your favorite Wikileaks disclosure so far? Here's mine: "Saudi Arabia urges US attack on Iran to stop nuclear programme."

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear programme, according to leaked US diplomatic cables that describe how other Arab allies have secretly agitated for military action against Tehran. […]

The Saudi king was recorded as having "frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons programme", one cable stated. "He told you [Americans] to cut off the head of the snake," the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir said, according to a report on Abdullah's meeting with the US general David Petraeus in April 2008. […]

The leaked US cables also reveal that:

• Officials in Jordan and Bahrain have openly called for Iran's nuclear programme to be stopped by any means, including military.

• Leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt referred to Iran as "evil", an "existential threat" and a power that "is going to take us to war". […]

The cables also expose frank, even rude, remarks about Iranian leaders, their trustworthiness and tactics at international meetings. Abdullah told another US diplomat: "The bottom line is that they cannot be trusted." Mubarak told a US congressman: "Iran is always stirring trouble." Others are learning from what they describe as Iranian deception. "They lie to us, and we lie to them," said Qatar's prime ministe

This isn't my favorite because I want to bomb Iran, but because A) the oppressive, two-faced, triple-dealing House of Saud deserves each and every embarrassing diplomatic disclosure the universe can provide, particularly (though certainly not only) vis-a-vis the United States; and B) the whole thing complicates any number of simplistic Mideast/foreign policy narratives.

I am both naive and irresponsible, so it's my hunch that among the governments that suffer most from these disclosures, America's will be pretty far down on the list. A comparatively open society, even one whose government insists on acting as global cop and uses a massive secrecy apparatus for that project, cannot long support a foreign policy that is in direct contrast to stated activities and aims. And scanning the headlines on this thing so far I haven't seen any OMG-style revelations about what the United States is doing (please correct my impression in the comments). It's the regimes who lie constantly to their oppressed citizens who stand to lose the most face, I would think.

So I don't agree with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that the disclosure is "unacceptable," nor with Rep. Pete King (R-NY) that Wikileaks should be prosecuted as a "foreign terrorist organization," or with Sen. Vinegar Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) that the Obama administration should "use all legal means necessary to shut down Wikileaks before it can do more damage."

Though the data-dump doubtlessly makes American diplomacy more complicated and circumspect, there are potential upsides to that development, not least of which is the demonstration that U.S. governance can easily withstand gamma-ray blasts of sunlight. One can only hope (with some optimism, at least in the long term) that the example of Wikileaks, if not precisely the organization itself, will spur similar revelations about the conduct of far more oppressive regimes.

Reason on Wikileaks here.