Is anyone actually surprised by anything released by Wikileaks? Apparently, one of the site’s revelations is that leaders and diplomats from Arab Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have approached the U.S. and asked - even pleaded - for America to take military action to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. The Los Angeles Times has coverage here.
It is no revelation that:
1) The Saudis and other Gulf States want someone - anyone - to take out Iran’s nuclear program and
2) The Saudis are also huge financiers of international terror groups
Neither of these points is a revelation. But maybe it will benefit Israel and the rest of the free world that these realities are now undeniable.
The White House’s statement re: Wikileaks includes the following: “Such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the U.S. for assistance in promoting democracy and open government. By releasing stolen and classified documents, Wikileaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but the lives and work of those individuals.”
My impression is that, on the whole, under President Obama, the U.S. has been doing less and less to actively help individuals who are promoting human rights, democracy and open government. For instance, this President has–at least overtly–decreased help to groups that support Iran’s pro-democracy dissidents and done far less than the previous administration in sticking up for dissidents in the Muslim world like the pioneering Bangladeshi journalist Shoaib Choudhury. However, to the extent that anything disclosed by Wikileaks - which is thought to have been illegally released by a disgruntled Army Intelligence officer/Iraq War vet - might endanger pro-democracy forces or individuals, Wikileaks has done a disservice indeed. In addition, the so-called revelations - those that regard the mideast anyway - were already known, albeit to insiders.
While there may be some benefit to pro-democracy forces in the publication of these classified materials, a service member’s duty, especially in wartime, should trump his absolutist free press principles. Also, concern for innocent human life should trump openness when the lives of those who are representing the U.S. and promoting democracy are genuinely imperiled by release of information. But if promoting democracy and human rights is truly a top priority for this Administration, President Obama should increase support–financial, strategic and at the very least, moral–to democracy movements worldwide. For starters, he could vocally support the upcoming referendum in South Sudan, and hold the Khartoum government to its pledge to respect the democratic process.
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