Is US Foreign Policy Crippled Following Latest Wikileaks Dump?

Tyler Durden's picture

The latest Wikileaks data dump has been released and it is about to make the world hate the US just that little bit more: it represents a massive sampling of the daily traffic between the State Department and some 270 embassies and consulates. And as the attached front page of tomorrow's Der Spiegel shows, according to the unclassified US embassy cables, America had something quite unpleasant to say about virtually everyone, culminating with Ahmadinejad, who was called "Hitler." But aside from the unpleasantries which may or may not be buried (and don't expect a prompt burial: Der Spiegel is already on the case and has this to say, "251,000 State Department documents, many of them secret embassy reports from around the world, show how the US seeks to safeguard its influence around the world. It is nothing short of a political meltdown for US foreign policy") the far bigger question will be how the once great American superpower could have allowed such a huge oversight in traditionally classified diplomacy. Very soon the once-legendary US foreign service department will be butt of all jokes. Perhaps it is time for someone within the administration to finally take some blame for this fiasco, although we most certainly are not holding our breath for a Hillary Clinton resignation.

Here is more on Der Spiegel's early take of the wikileaks release:

Such surprises from the annals of US diplomacy will dominate the headlines in the coming days when the New York Times, London's Guardian, Paris' Le Monde, Madrid's El Pais  and SPIEGEL begin shedding light on the treasure trove of secret documents from the State Department. Included are 243,270 diplomatic cables filed by US embassies to the State Department and 8,017 directives that the State Department sent to its diplomatic outposts around the world. In the coming days, the participating media will show in a series of investigative stories how America seeks to steer the world. The development is no less than a political meltdown for American foreign policy.

Never before in history has a superpower lost control of such vast amounts of such sensitive information -- data that can help paint a picture of the foundation upon which US foreign policy is built. Never before has the trust America's partners have in the country been as badly shaken. Now, their own personal views and policy recommendations have been made public -- as have America's true views of them.

A brief overview of the content by the NYT:

The cables show that nearly a decade after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the dark shadow of terrorism still dominates the United States’ relations with the world. They depict the Obama administration struggling to sort out which Pakistanis are trustworthy partners against Al Qaeda, adding Australians who have disappeared in the Middle East to terrorist watch lists, and assessing whether a lurking rickshaw driver in Lahore, Pakistan, was awaiting fares or conducting surveillance of the road to the American Consulate.

They show American officials managing relations with a China on the rise and a Russia retreating from democracy. They document years of painstaking effort to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon — and of worry about a possible Israeli strike on Iran with the same goal.

And cable specifics:

  • Mixed records against terrorism: Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda,
    and the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar, a generous host to the
    American military for years, was the “worst in the region” in
    counterterrorism efforts, according to a State Department cable last
    December. Qatar’s security service was “hesitant to act against known
    terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and
    provoking reprisals,” the cable said.
  • Arms deliveries to militants: Cables describe the United States’ failing struggle to prevent Syria from supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has amassed a huge stockpile since its 2006 war with Israel. One week after President Bashar al-Assad
    promised a top State Department official that he would not send “new”
    arms to Hezbollah, the United States complained that it had information
    that Syria was providing increasingly sophisticated weapons to the
  • A global computer hacking effort: China’s Politburo directed the
    intrusion into Google’s computer systems in that country, a Chinese
    contact told the American Embassy in Beijing in January, one cable
    reported. The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of
    computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security
    experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They
    have broken into American government computers and those of Western
    allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.
  • A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel: Since 2007, the
    United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful,
    to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that
    American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear
    device. In May 2009, Ambassador Anne W. Patterson reported that
    Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts
    because, as a Pakistani official said, “if the local media got word of
    the fuel removal, ‘they certainly would portray it as the United States
    taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,’ he argued.”
  • Gaming out an eventual collapse of North Korea: American and South
    Korean officials have discussed the prospects for a unified Korea,
    should the North’s economic troubles and political transition lead the
    state to implode. The South Koreans even considered commercial
    inducements to China, according to the American ambassador to Seoul. She
    told Washington in February that South Korean officials believe that
    the right business deals would “help salve” China’s “concerns about
    living with a reunified Korea” that is in a “benign alliance” with the
    United States.
  • Bargaining to empty the Guantánamo Bay prison: When American diplomats
    pressed other countries to resettle detainees, they became reluctant
    players in a State Department version of “Let’s Make a Deal.” Slovenia
    was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Obama,
    while the island nation of Kiribati was offered incentives worth
    millions of dollars to take in Chinese Muslim detainees, cables from
    diplomats recounted. The Americans, meanwhile, suggested that accepting
    more prisoners would be “a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence
    in Europe.”
  • Suspicions of corruption in the Afghan government: When Afghanistan’s
    vice president visited the United Arab Emirates last year, local
    authorities working with the Drug Enforcement Administration
    discovered that he was carrying $52 million in cash. With wry
    understatement, a cable from the American Embassy in Kabul called the
    money “a significant amount” that the official, Ahmed Zia Massoud, “was
    ultimately allowed to keep without revealing the money’s origin or
    destination.” (Mr. Massoud denies taking any money out of Afghanistan.)

The Guardian has done a great cliff notes summary of some of the key cables after the jump:

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TheGreatPonzi's picture

Internet will kill governments, said one thinker in the late 1990s.

Seems to be happening right now.

Until the famous "Internet kill switch" proposed by Rockefeller...

Azannoth's picture

The Internet kill switch can only be used once, than all people will reroute their Internet traffic avoiding the USA and it's blockade

More Critical Thinking Wanted's picture


The latest Wikileaks data dump has been released [...]

Wikileaks is citizen's CCTV of government officials.

If they did nothing wrong then they have nothing to fear!

I love it how this classic argument against privacy of the individual (searches at borders, warrant-less surveillance of all Internet packets and all telephone conversations, full body scans, CCTV cameras everywhere, etc.) can be turned around and applied symmetrically and fairly to government and corporate officials as well.

And it's interesting to see how they squirm under the sunlight and claim that when it is Wikileaks and citizens that are doing the surveillance, then it is suddenly somehow wrong.

Every government official and every big corporation official should have a public webcam installed in their office. Citizens want to see who meets whom and why. How are our taxes spent and how are our markets being divided? We pay them - and we want to know what happens with our money. Fair is fair.

MeTarzanUjane's picture

Listen more critical T. We will see. If we, the people loose faith in .gov then we need to replace it with faith in ZH? Is that what you are saying. Oh I see.

If that faith in .gov begins to erode then gold should increase in value. Lets see what happens this week. It should be interesting.

Time to buy bonds or time to buy gold?

More Critical Thinking Wanted's picture

Why have "faith" in any of these entities?

How about having enough data, using our brain and applying critical thinking ourselves? That's more than enough IMO.

i-dog's picture

"If we, the people loose faith in .gov then we need to replace it with faith in ZH? Is that what you are saying. Oh I see."

False dichotomy. There are many other alternatives. Think.

You add no value here ... indeed, you are an embarassment to the site with your shallow thinking and trolling.

MeTarzanUjane's picture

There was this one time while I was reading a Tyler story. I looked over and there was a fly on the wall bugging me with some such story about arbitrage or something. Anyway I looked at it then continued looking at the Tyler story wondering "why did Tyler write this".

This one time I surfing the webs and I saw a story about peak. So I clicked through and there it was, giving me a quote on crude. I did not make a trade cuz I thought it could have been considered insider information.


jeff montanye's picture

at least one promise obama made is coming true: the most transparent administration in u.s. history.

i-dog's picture

Indeed. I wonder if Obama passed the communications to Wikileaks to keep his promise?!! (or to embarass Hilary :)  hehe

GoinFawr's picture

"Spy on them as they spy on us."


"That's the spirit!"


HankPaulson's picture

Well said MCTW. Democracy requires citizens to choose, and choices require information. (I love it when folks choose the red pill. Go ZH!)

Ethics Gradient's picture

It's apparent that the thinker you refer to forgot that the vast majority of people don't think and are therefore unconcerned with anything that doesn't affect their ability to afford an iPhone.

redpill's picture

What do you mean afford an iPhone?  Just put it on a credit card!  /USconsumer

Whatta's picture

well, the US government closed down over 70 websites this past week

"The new seizures also come as a new bill, the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act, is making its way through Congress. The bill, which was approved by a Senate committee last week, would allow the government to shut down sites that are “dedicated to infringing activities.”"

Infringements can mean a lot of things...

I also here wikileaks is/was under cyber attack. Gee, three guesses who is perpetrating that crime?

dark pools of soros's picture

there is talk of bombing their servers

ThisIsBob's picture

"You cannot start a revolution without a printing press."  (Marx)

xenophobe51's picture

Like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a manifesto.

Uncle Remus's picture

Well, since there is no spoon...

MasterB's picture

Oops - gotta get me a new icon - my apologies Unca Remus.

Widowmaker's picture

No, the Internet is the new press.

flaunt's picture

I certainly hope that is the case.  We've suffered through one of the worst periods of malfeasance on the part of governments in the history of mankind.  The idea that the powerbrokers now think they've made a case for world government is absolutely mind boggling.  What they've actually made is a brutally clear case for is statelessness.

jeff montanye's picture

"nothing to kill or die for (and no religion too)".

sabra1's picture

waiting for the wikileaks financial edition!

Dabale arroz a la zorra el abad's picture

Yes!! Remember BCCI (Bank of Credit and Commerce International)

AbandonShip's picture

Wow.  I was just talking to my dad about BCCI this weekend.  The whole bank shutdown every global branch in 4 hours once their dirty laundry hit the headlines.

Azannoth's picture

Dick Cheney is spinning in his grave,              oh wait

NotAlwaysSo's picture

Nothing we didn't already know or suspect really. Will be fun watching all the countries implicated acting as if they are better than the U.S.

johngaltfla's picture

I'm still reading what documents I can access and I can assure you of one thing: Both the Bush and Obama administrations look like crap. This isn't going to be a walk in the park in the markets this week as a result, IMHO.

CPL's picture

Looks like the media is spinning it where the US is a hero by selectively picking out three memo's.  Appearently Bush is a born again hero of the republic.


At least there are more names to skull from them to research and eyeball.

TheGreatPonzi's picture

I can't access to Wikileaks right now (France, SFR).

Just a momentary server overload?

Azannoth's picture

Having trouble connecting from Germany to, server overload i guess 

Sabibaby's picture

Can't access from 80002, CO, USA


if you're going to comment, they already know where I live....

flacon's picture

That's ok. They probably know I live in a house too. 

johngaltfla's picture

DOS attack per their tweets...

chet's picture

I have no love for the Feds, but I certainly hope we're trying to crash Wikileaks permenantly. We have no moral obligation to allow some international site to post national security information.

Frankly, if we can't fry Wikileaks, I'd be very concerned for our cyberwarfare capabilities. CIA might as well pay a visit to the site's founder while we're at it.

nonclaim's picture

Any computer connected to the internet can be a server, so what if Wikileaks goes silent...

Uncle Remus's picture

You should be concerned for US cyberwarfare capabilities in any event.

Eureka Springs's picture

These sir, are words of a coward. WHat is a crying shame of an embarrassment is that we the people don't have immediate and constant access/ability to see/post these documents every day, as they happen. The fact a foreigner can or would pull this off is a great service from a citizen of the world.


You seemed to be ashamed for all the wrong reasons. These "diplomatic" files all read like a bunch bloggers talking about nutcases anyhow... to expect any different wuold be absurd. And to allow itto be treated as sacrosanct is tyrannical (or embracement of tyranny)

wake up!

jeff montanye's picture

"no love for the feds" but this diplomatic chatter is "national security information" requiring a cia visit to the founder?  for what, a little wetwork?   

MeTarzanUjane's picture

If Marla got Wikileaks then ZH would be under a full scale DOS episode.

Sacrilege would be wetting the bed right now.

NotAlwaysSo's picture

Almost feel bad for Hillary...