I am certain that there is the odd birther and the not uncommon G.O.Tea Partier who celebrated when the news reports surfaced regarding President Obama getting hit in the mouth during a pickup basketball game. But at the beginning of this week the Obama Administration absorbed a serious body blow that cannot possibly be the cause for celebration in any portion of the increasingly self-absorbed American body politic.
Over the weekend, Julian Assange, the self-appointed avatar of the truth (as he defines it) executed the largest leak of United States governmental files and secret information in the history of this country. The hundreds of thousands of files and millions of pages of correspondence and communication between the United States government and its political and diplomatic contacts abroad were disseminated by WikiLeaks and this deluge of confidential information has been the cause for celebration and dismay throughout the world. I am voting for dismay.
This massive dumping of confidential files, communications and information was done in the name of transparency, but clearly there have been no guiding principles involved. Being the coffee swilling private eye parked in a beat up Chevy in the parking lot of the motel of international diplomacy doesn’t strike me as particularly heroic or particularly helpful.
Knowing every internal conversation by every government does not help us to understand geopolitical forces and movements. Knowing that Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi is afraid of heights doesn’t tell us anything important. Now that we know that Saudi Arabian officials may have asked the United States to bomb Iran only tells us that a range of options, even outrageous ones, are always considered by even remotely intelligent individuals who are in positions of responsibility.
The WikiLeaks disclosures may have a harmful effect on the Obama Administration in its pursuit of various foreign policy and security goals and objectives, but no one really knows. It is very hard to prove a negative.
We do know, for example, that the Iranian-American doctor who escaped Iran on horseback and arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey having fled his captors in Iran, is now terrified that his family members living in Iran will be imprisoned, tortured or killed now that his story has been made public.
Who died and made Julian Assange the final judge as to who will live or die by reason of his disclosures? More importantly, one wonders what standards or criteria he employed in deciding what information was worth disclosing and what costs and consequences for others he was willing to consider as being acceptable.
The embarrassment suffered by American diplomats, but one has to wonder if communications in the future will be compromised or constrained both internally and on bilateral and multilateral bases. Frank conversations and blunt assessments have been a part of diplomacy and foreign policy from the earliest tribal days of humanity.
No one should be shocked or surprised by the candor that is found in these leaked documents. But even professional career diplomats will be fettered in their future work if there is the very real likelihood that there every thought, musing or hypothetical conjuring can be made public.
There is an old adage about two things that one never wants to see being made – one is sausage and the other is legislation. I would add foreign policy to an updated version.
If Julian Assange had uncovered corruption, fraud and deceit like the weaving of the myth of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that led to the hellish and damnable American invasion of Iraq I would be the first to applaud him. But this latest foray seems prurient and self-indulgent.
I am in favor of transparency, but there is reason that there are doors on bathrooms and curtains on bedrooms.