With the release Sunday of 200 of the 250,000 State Dept. cables Wikileaks has in its possession, opinion has raged over whether the release of such documents are a good, bad, or a meh (unimportant) thing. Here is a link here and here from a left/right perspective that outline the case why the release is negative.
All in all, the release is a good thing for not only America, but the world in general.
The cables released so far (less than .1% of the total they claim to have) cover various topics: Iran, North Korea, China, opinion of European/other politicians, and other communications with Middle Eastern leaders over counter-terrorism policy (and Iran).
The picture that emerges from the release does not contain that much news, other than a few bombshells you have probably heard; the most "shocking" is that Hillary Clinton asking to spy on That might be a tad awkward for her at the next state dinner.
But in reality, every country in the world must know by now that everyone spies on everyone; the fact that it's public might be shocking, but do you think China does NOT spy on other diplomats at the UN? Russia? France? Iran? Britain? They would be absolute fools not to; let's please be grown-ups and realize that there will always be such spying as there always has been.
Here are some "bombshells" which are not any news at all:
1 Saudis want to bomb Iranian nuke facilities
2 Iran supports Hezbollah
3 Iran/North Korea working together
4 China uses hackers to hack into American computers
5 Other Middle Eastern nations welcome US support but don't want it public
6 Pakistan is an unstable mess
And some information about particular politicians:
1 Italian Burlusconi likes to party
2 Merkel is risk-averse
3 Karzai is weak and paranoid
4 Qaddafi like voluptuous blondes
5 Sarkozy is authoritarian
So, back to the point of releasing the documents and whether it is good/bad. The release of these documents is a good thing, because it revels the unvarnished truth about politicians, their fears, their weaknesses, and the real threats facing this country.
For politicians to amass more power and act more unilaterally without the people's consent, they have to command the respect/awe of their populace; they have to be larger than life. By showing politicians as regular people with flaws (plenty of them), we can see through their veneer and not give them too much power. By showing the Emperor with no clothes, we take away his power. This is a good thing not only in America but in other countries that idolize their leaders. By idolizing leaders we tend to trust them more than we should.
But more importantly, these Wikileaks show in reality how our "allies" act, some of which are not really like allies. The 6 "bombshells" above were mentioned in the news but never verified by the US government. By showing the cables, it proves these items in the news actually happened.
And this gives us all a more realistic and practical view of the world. Can people at this point really argue that Iran doesn't intend to build nuclear weapons? Only fools. And we have long suspected the Chinese of cyber-warfare, and we have confirmation of such from the State Dept.
And this realistic view will now shape our opinions as American VOTERS: by knowing more facts about the world as it is and not how we WANT it to be, we can choose politicians who will act in a more realistic manner.
We have a view now that is much like the State Dept: we don't know who to trust, who is lying, who is trying to manipulate the US to do actions in their interest. We know the thoughts and fears of many leaders about Iranian nukes. We know the fears of Middle Eastern leaders about appearing too cozy with the US.
Outing the names of informants are clearly a negative in the release of these Wikileaks; leakers in the Taliban and elsewhere will be jailed/killed. If WikiLeaks merely redacted the NAMES of these people and kept the content, that would be sufficient.
It is true that this will cause some short term-embarrassment for the US in terms of pointing out the flaws of leaders; this again is short term. And yes Middle Eastern countries might refuse to aid the US now that they have been "outed".
But this won't happen. The reason why is that by reading the cables, it's clear the governments of UAE, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia can ALL point to terrorism and Islamic extremism as a problem IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY. Sure, Yemen might be embarrassed by having it made public that the Predator strikes in their country were from the US. But if they know Al Qaeda members are in Yemen, they will still call up the US Air Force because Al Qaeda is a threat to YEMEN AS WELL.
And perhaps the leaders of Yemen, and Saudi Arabia, et al. talk to their people more frankly about the problems of terrorism and Islamic extremism; don't you think the people already know there are issues when they read about bombings in their own country?
So the release of these documents (so far) has proven to be an ugly, painful, yet ultimately realistic portrayal of foreign policy as it is, and this will ultimately help voters in America and around the world make BETTER and MORE INFORMED decisions.
Wikileaks, keep them coming.