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WikiLeaks Accidentally Helps United States

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
November 30, 2010
The Daily Beast


The Wikileakers dumped a vast pile of secrets to prove that the United States was selfish, stupid and wicked–but their revelations proved just the opposite. When you remove the gossip and obvious trivia that mesmerized the press, you clearly see what the Wikileakers never expected: A United States seriously and professionally trying to solve the most dangerous problems in a frighteningly complicated world, yet lacking the power to dictate solutions. U.S. policymakers and diplomats are shown, quite accurately, doing what they are supposed to do: ferreting out critical information from foreign leaders, searching for paths to common action, and struggling with the right amount of pressure to apply on allies and adversaries. And in most cases, the villain is not Washington, but foreign leaders escaping common action with cowardice and hypocrisy.

Don't think for a New York minute that Julian Assange, the Wikileaker, unloaded this trove to save humankind. Why did he toss in those cables about Italy's leader being a rake and Germany's chancellor being a cautious fuddy-duddy, and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan being “paranoid”? To save the world? Not a chance. He did it to get attention, and he got attention from a drooling press, which then went on to call the very material they were highlighting trivial. Did Assange leak critical conversations with Chinese or Arab leaders to help solve the problems in Korea and Iran? Not by the hair on your chinny chin chin. He did it to show that he could do it–and for the attention. Anyone who is not a hopeless left-wing ideologue knows that such leaks will crush future serious conversations with those leaders for some time to come. Just think: if you told someone a serious and critical confidence about someone else, and your confidant went out and told others, would you soon repeat that mistake? Assange did not leak these cables to help solve world problems. These leaks were absolutely gratuitous and served only the purpose of making him a media marvel.

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