Secret US Embassy Cables, Wikileaks:
Wikileaks began on Sunday November 28th publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables, the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain. The documents will give people around the world an unprecedented insight into US Government foreign activities.
The cables, which date from 1966 up until the end of February this year, contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington DC. 15,652 of the cables are classified Secret.
The embassy cables will be released in stages over the next few months. The subject matter of these cables is of such importance, and the geographical spread so broad, that to do otherwise would not do this material justice.
The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in “client states”; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.
This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.
So far 278 of 251287 cables have been released.
How 250,000 US embassy cables were leaked, guardian.co.uk:
What will emerge in the days and weeks ahead is an unprecedented picture of secret diplomacy as conducted by the planet’s sole superpower. There are 251,287 dispatches in all, from more than 250 US embassies and consulates. They reveal how the US deals with both its allies and its enemies – negotiating, pressuring and sometimes brusquely denigrating foreign leaders, all behind the firewalls of ciphers and secrecy classifications that diplomats assume to be secure. The leaked cables range up to the “SECRET NOFORN” level, which means they are meant never to be shown to non-US citizens.
Or for that matter to citizens.
Although their contents are often startling and troubling, the cables are unlikely to gratify conspiracy theorists. They do not contain evidence of assassination plots, CIA bribery or such criminal enterprises as the Iran-Contra scandal in the Reagan years, when anti-Nicaraguan guerrillas were covertly financed.
One reason may be that America’s most sensitive “top secret” and above foreign intelligence files cannot be accessed from Siprnet, the defence department network involved.
Nothing to see here “conspiracy theorists”, only “an unprecedented picture of secret diplomacy as conducted by the planet’s sole superpower”.
In Russian political culture, the secret services, Kremlin leaders, and business oligarchs have long practiced the dark arts of kompromat, spreading misinformation to blacken opponents’ reputations and influence public moods. So they suspect that there has to be something or someone with a hidden agenda standing behind WikiLeaks.
“I have no doubt that this was a prepared operation, probably by [the] US secret services,” says Alexei Mukhin, director of the independent Center for Political Information in Moscow. “I find it improbable that US authorities couldn’t deal with one guy (Mr. Assange) if they really wanted to. No, this is clearly being done as an instrument of destabilization,” he says.
The most popular theory is that the massive outing of classified State Department communications is designed to make Obama look weak, inept, and unable to control his own government machinery.
“This will obviously damage Obama and his policies,” says Sergei Strokan, a foreign affairs columnist with the Moscow business daily Kommersant. “Obama made a strong emphasis on international affairs, outreach to the Muslim world, and resetting relations with Russia. These leaks show that many diplomats take a privately cynical view of those goals, or are actually working at cross purposes to them. All these disclosures will be a serious blow to America’s new image in the world, and will only undercut Obama.”
The guardian.co.uk article above notes that they have had the diplomatic cable data since “earlier this year”. I don’t have time or inclination to read all 250K cables nor more than a little of the smokescreen of spin and misdirection thrown up around them. Instead I’d like to focus on what the cables reveal about “GOI” (government of Israel), its obsession with Iran, and its relations with “USG” (United States government), especially concerning attempts to justify and precipitate a USG attack on Iran.
In the misleadingly-titled article Saudi Arabia urges US attack on Iran to stop nuclear programme, guardian.co.uk, the authors write:
No US ally is keener on military action than Israel, and officials there have repeatedly warned that time is running out.
guardian.co.uk has so far placed 16 Israel-related cables online with their own title and highlighting. They do not link the corresponding Wikileaks pages.
The misleadingly-titled article links US embassy cables: Ehud Barak sets deadline to resolve Iran nuclear ambitions (02 June 2009):
When asked if the use of force on Iran might backfire with moderate Muslims in Pakistan, thereby exacerbating the situation, Barak acknowledged Iran and Pakistan are interconnected, but disagreed with a causal chain. To the contrary, he argued that if the United States had directly confronted North Korea in recent years, others would be less inclined to pursue nuclear weapons programs. By avoiding confrontation with Iran, Barak argued, the U.S. faces a perception of weakness in the region.
Another guardian.co.uk article, Israel primed to attack a nuclear Iran, links more cables which actually indicate GOI priming USG to attack Iran. These cables include US embassy cables: Israel sees Iran’s uranium enrichment as ‘point of no return’ (17 March 2005) which refers to an “Israeli Preference for USG and UNSC Involvement” and US embassy cables: Mossad says US and Israel agree on Iran (17 March 2005):
Acknowledging that there are at times differences in analysis of the facts, [Mossad Chief Meir] Dagan stressed that it is similarities rather than differences that are at the heart of the GOI-U.S. intelligence relationship, particularly on Iran.
US embassy cables: US pressed to maintain Israel’s ‘qualitative military edge’ (30 July 2009) provides an example of less direct pressure whereby USG helps ensure GOI’s political-military supremacy in the region:
A/S [US assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs Andrew] Shapiro stressed the importance of the U.S-Israeli political-military relationship, noting the significance of visiting Israel on his first overseas trip in his capacity as Assistant Secretary for the Political-Military Affairs Bureau.
GOI officials reiterated the importance of maintaining Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME).
[MFA’s (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) Deputy Director General for Strategic Affairs Alon] Bar argued that a perceived closure in the capability gap between Israel and Arab states, coupled with a nuclear-armed Iran, could compel moderate Arab states to reassess the notion that Israel was a fixture in the region.
In contrast, Saudi efforts to influence USG contrast are direct. US embassy cables: Saudi king urges US strike on Iran (20 April 2008):
The King, Foreign Minister, Prince Muqrin, and Prince Nayif all agreed that the Kingdom needs to cooperate with the US on resisting and rolling back Iranian influence and subversion in Iraq. The King was particularly adamant on this point, and it was echoed by the senior princes as well. Al-Jubeir recalled the King’s frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear weapons program. “He told you to cut off the head of the snake,” he recalled to the Charge’, adding that working with the US to roll back Iranian influence in Iraq is a strategic priority for the King and his government.
GOI has responded to the leaked cables by spinning it as a good thing.
Israel greets WikiLeaks cables as vindication of its Iran policy, CSMonitor.com:
“I don’t see any damage. Quite the opposite,” said Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, in an interview with Israel Radio. “Maybe there’s an indirect benefit that the truth is coming out, that the entire Middle East, including Arab states, are very fearful from the Iranian nuclear threat, and are calling on the West to be much more aggressive toward Iran.”
The revelation of regional support for Israel’s hard-line approach to Iran was seen as such a boon that Sever Plocker, a columnist for the daily Yediot Ahronot newspaper, quipped, “If the WikiLeaks site did not exist, Israel would have to invent it.”
“The massive leak of American diplomatic telegrams indicates a single picture, sharp and clear,” he added. “The entire world, not just Israel, is panicked over the Iranian nuclear program.”
Actually the sharp, clear picture is that GOI is more panicked than anyone else over Iran, and that they desperately want “the entire world”, but especially USG, to serve Israeli interests under the misguided belief that we are serving our own.
Part of GOI’s “Qualitative Military Edge” includes nuclear weapons. Part of what could be called GOI’s “Qualitative Political Edge” is that these weapons are rarely mentioned or questioned, though when they are the picture comes through sharp and clear:
In 2003, Martin van Creveld, a professor of military history at Israel’s Hebrew University, thought that the Al-Aqsa Intifada then in progress threatened Israel’s existence. Van Creveld was quoted in David Hirst’s “The Gun and the Olive Branch” (2003) as saying “I consider it all hopeless at this point. … We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen, before Israel goes under.” He quoted General Moshe Dayan: “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.”
UPDATE, 1 Dec 2010: Wikileaks has dubbed this Cablegate. At the moment the Wikileak web server hosting the cables (cablegate.wikileaks.org AKA ec2-184-72-37-90.us-west-1.compute.amazonaws.com) is offline.