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November 29, 2010

The Wikileak That Didn't Bark
Posted by David Shorr

This Wikileaks mess is a disaster, a huge setback for and distraction from serious national security challenges, and Bradley Manning has a lot to answer for. Meanwhile, anyone else noticed the difference between this week's focus on the steady diplomatic grind involved in foreign policy versus the spitball-throwing that passes for FP debate most of the time? The structure of the situation doesn't give much room to bash the current administration. It's pretty to hard to slam Obama when its his policy that's been undermined by the leaks.

This may only be a brief interlude, but it makes for a really interesting moment in which the spotlight is on real foreign policy instead of caricature. In a nutshell, accomplishing the United States' national security aims is not easy. The point of all this private diplomatic deal-making -- and the discomfort for many of those with whom the US is dealing -- is that supporting America often involves a political price. This is what I've always found inane about arch-conservative fantasies that all it takes for America to get our way are resolve and tough-talk. And then along with that delusion goes the far-right's denial that the US ever needs to make conciliatory gestures to enhance our moral authority and credibility -- or that it even matters for American influence. Yet just a scan of the Times piece about efforts to pressure Iran shows that the United States was able to obtain a lot more international support (and stronger sanctions) with honey than with vinegar.

I won't get my hopes too high about a reality-based foreign policy debate, but it's nice to have a break from the usual nonsense.


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