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Wikileaks the State Department

Click on pic for the game "Diplomacy"

The cables are out and now is the time to sift through them and come to our own conclusions about what they contain.  For those of you who want a running commentary, Peter Daou recommends Greg Mitchell’s blog at The Nation.

I’m not surprised that we’re spying on UN officials  and gathering intelligence from around the world.  Didn’t we learn from Joe Wilson that diplomats are sometimes deployed to get information about uranium shipments?  Even a Democrat must understand that keeping tabs on foreign nationals who reside in our country and are operating at a high level in world affairs should be monitored.  We legitimately object when our government spies on American citizens but I’m pretty sure that even Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson understood the value of keeping your foreign friends close and your enemies closer.  Let’s not be naive and let the world head for the smelling salts.  If Hillary authorized some of the surveillance, it shouldn’t come as a shock.  That’s her job.  What’s more important is how discriminant she or her predecessors were in applying it.

What is more surprising is how the NYTimes reports a remarkable lack of agency with these cables.  There is no indication who sent them or with what authority.  Are we to understand that no one in the Bush White House was responsible?  Things just happened?  Who should get credit for negotiating hard bargains in the current administration?  Specific people cause specific things to get done or not get done.  The NYTimes is cheating the casual reader of knowing who is responsible when the agents are referred to so vaguely.  The paper needs to clarify when the actions were taken and by whom.  I think we will all wait in vain for level headed analysis.  The reader is advised to dig into the cables and consult multiple sources for discussion.

In the wake of 9/11 and the Bush administrations heavy handed approach to diplomacy, we shouldn’t be surprised if American foreign service is in the midst of some serious rebuilding years.  A 2007 report that appeared in the Washington Post blamed Condoleeza Rice for poor morale at the State Department:

The report from the Foreign Affairs Council, which includes retired ambassadors and senior diplomats, also said morale is dropping among diplomats.

“In the first two years of Secretary Rice’s stewardship almost no net new resources have been realized,” the report said. It noted that Congress has twice denied money for Rice’s plan to rearrange diplomatic postings away from the Cold War model, which was heavy on jobs in Europe, and toward modern challenges in places like China and India.The council found a severe staff shortage and holds Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice partly responsible. The State Department needs 1,100 more employees, especially since recent staff additions have gone to fill jobs in Iraq, Afghanistan and other difficult posts, the report said.

Back in the Bush era, when conservative ideologues started permeating the State department, some career diplomats quit in disgust and some of them quite publicly. Some were given an ultimatum: to serve in Iraq  during the most dangerous period of the insurgency or resign.  As the WaPo article reports, Rice had a hard time getting funding.  None of these problems have gone away.  The Secretary still has to ask Congress for money.  The ideologues are still there. Let’s keep this in mind as we read through these cables.  Bush screwed up.  Putting it back together requires hard work and ingenuity.  The question is, will the people now in charge take responsibility?  How much is the fault of Rice/Bush/Cheney?  How much is still salvageable?  Who has stepped up and who hasn’t?

26 Responses

  1. Good Morning! Isn’t it cool how the WH is FORCED to defend the State Department? I wonder how ream re-elect is going to spin how bad Hillary is when the time comes….


    Hillary 2012

  2. as an aside… I find it curious that a private could gain access to all this information… it just seems very strange to me.

    • A 23 year old private at that…

    • The Diplomat correspondence in wikileak was not part of the DOD leak, the work of the private. Nobody knows who leaked the diplomatic cables that show Iran, China and N.Korea are detested by the whole world.

  3. I only watched a tiny smidge of the morning shows but it was clear that the mefia is hoping to spin this in an anti-Hillary direction.

  4. I recently read a biography of Julia Child whose husband Paul was a career foreign service officer. They met in Ceylon working for the precursor to the CIA during WWII. He was disgusted with many aspects of the gov. bureaucracy and had to survive McCarthyism and the Cold War. There were internal spies and J. Edgar Hoover who was projecting his self-loathing. We weren’t at War, but I doubt that our State Dept. has ever been anything close to a perfect institution. I think of my experiences with high school and various corporations and am not surprised. We aren’t going to see a shift in human nature for our species anytime soon, but there are some shifts in consciousness that indicate progress.

  5. Is it really surprising to anyone that the U.S. spies on international officials? I mean, if they’re meant to paint our government activity as paranoid, it’ll probably succeed.

    Actually, I’m reading some of the cables right now and they seem pretty straight-forward. Ref. ID# 10STATE9939 is just standard diplomacy, apparently from the Hillster, asking for cooperation in investigating unauthorized exports–from a Hong Kong company–that might be used in missile technology.

    I’ll go through a few more.

    • Thanks! I’m at work and can’t sift through this until later. Your help is greatly appreciated.

    • Ref. ID # 06ABUDHABI1401dates back to 2006, near closing of the Bush years.

      The cable expresses that while United Arab Emirates views Iran as its largest threat to national security, they can’t take any action as they’re worried about damaging their extensive trade relationship them.

      The evaluation from the U.S. is that while the UAE has gone to great lengths in their counterterrorism, they are still green. They lack a plan in reducing their vulnerability to attacks and when faced with a terrorist suspect they fail obtain information from the person and take immediate action by deportation. These actions are considered a transnational problem as it leaves not only the UAE at risk, but also jeopardizes the other countries in the Gulf and even the U.S.

    • I have to say, that I’ve gone through some of the cables from 2004 to 2010.

      Ref. ID# 04ANKARA348 and 07BERLIN802

      These are just examples of the cables dealing with specific leaders or Prime Ministers, and they read like a baseball players stats.

      They go into detail their weaknesses, strengths, how they came into power, the challenges they face, what they want from the U.S., what they hope to achieve at global meetings, and how we deal with them.

    • It’s not that it’s surprising, but it’s against the UN charter. Those who participate in the UN are not supposed to use it as a center to spy on other nations.

  6. Iran is claiming wikileaks is part of psychological warfare

    Also, Iranian nuclear scientists were bomb targets

  7. Hi all–returned from Thanksgiving at brothers to all this Wiki mess. Mostly embarrassing. I was always under the assumption that everybody at the UN spied on each other. Oh great, dumbo is speaking. They always tell you what he is going to say ahead of time, so why listen.
    Hillary will be fine. She knows they will try to throw crap on her, but none of this could have happened without the approval of ‘the boss.’

  8. Grrr, I’m too busy to work through it too. I’ll sift through some this evening.

  9. Please post Hillary’s speech on CNN this morning in regards to the leaks.

  10. Video of Hillary’s statement:

  11. Thank you Ferguson! Hillary has worked to develope interpersonal relationships with many different people from around the globe. She has their confidence, and their support, and will continue with her good deeds.

    What I can’t understand is why Obama was not their to support her in this speech.

    • Obama’s job is to campaign to get elected in 2012. He has a swollen lip and he looks terrible on camera right now.

    • and if Obama did accompany her, you would be attacking him for trying to over shadow her and not giving her her due. seriously, this is not primary season 2008 – they are no longer at odds with each other. are you ever going to let it go?

  12. That fat lip has never been a barrier for Obama.

  13. Obama will come out and take credit as soon as Hillary completes the damage repair.

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