Monday, November 29, 2010

The Top 5 Most Shocking Things About The Wikileaks

TPM, many links.

1. Nearly every country in the Middle East wants us to attack Iran.

They want us to do it. If you want Iran invaded, do it yourselves, assholes. Apparently they don't want their images tarnished - you know, human rights and stuff - and the U.S. is already The Great Satan.

Or maybe they don't want to get all their billions of dollars worth of weapons that we sold them dirty. Or maybe those weapons' best use is domestic, oppressing their own people.

According to Le Monde (in translation), a cable relayed to Washington a conversation between the emir of Qatar and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) last February: "Based on over 30 years of experience with the Iranians, the emir concluded the meeting by saying that we shouldn't believe but one word in a hundred that the Iranians say." The prime minister of Qatar told Kerry later that trip that Ahmadinejad told him: "we beat the Americans in Iraq, the final battle will be in Iran."

The first half of that last sentence is absolutely correct. The other half may be as well, but hopefully they'll do it among themselves without our presence. And lose.

5. U.S. foreign policy relies heavily on blog-ready gossip items.

To get into the U.S. Foreign Service (and thus write diplomatic cables), applicants are required to pass an hours-long, highly competitive written examination, followed by an even more competitive oral examination and then go through months of intensive training. Then, it appears, they are dispatched to foreign embassies to write gossip about high level officials.

A sample? Libyan President Muammar al-Qadhafi gets Botox and travels constantly with a "voluptuous blonde" Ukrainian nurse named Galyna Kolotnytska. Azerbaijani First Lady Mehriban Alijewa has had so many facelifts that she resembles her own daughter from a distance -- but you can tell the difference close-up because she can't really move her face. A British Labour minister is quite the player (and is having marital problems) and might be bipolar. Russia's Vladimir Putin and Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi might have more in common than their reported extramarital shenanigans -- they could well be in business together, too. Russian President Dmitri Medved's wife, Svetlana, reportedly keeps a blacklist of staffers she deems insufficiently committed to her husband. Oh, and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is basically considered an idiot who knows little about foreign policy, but only the Germans really care about that.

Your tax dollars at work.

I'd rather my tax dollars went for filling potholes. Let The Enquirer do that other shit. Yeesh.


The Guardian, UK

The job of the media is not to protect the powerful from embarrassment

Quite the opposite.

Some stars shine through the banality such as the heroic envoy in Islamabad, Anne Patterson. She pleads that Washington's whole policy is counterproductive: it "risks destabilising the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and the military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis without finally achieving the goal". Nor is any amount of money going to bribe the Taliban to our side. Patterson's cables are like missives from the Titanic as it already heads for the bottom.

The money‑wasting is staggering. Aid payments are never followed, never audited, never evaluated. The impression is of the world's superpower roaming helpless in a world in which nobody behaves as bidden. Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, the United Nations, are all perpetually off script. Washington reacts like a wounded bear, its instincts imperial but its power projection unproductive.

America's foreign policy is revealed as a slave to rightwing drift, terrified of a bomb exploding abroad or of a pro-Israeli congressman at home. If the cables tell of the progress to war over Iran or Pakistan or Gaza or Yemen, their revelation might help debate the inanity of policies which, as Patterson says, seem to be leading in just that direction. Perhaps we can now see how catastrophe unfolds when there is time to avert it, rather than having to await a Chilcot report after the event. If that is not in the public's interest, I fail to see what is.

The public's interest? What a quaint concept! What does that have to do with anything?

Much more.

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