Department of State

The Wikileaks Strike at the Heart of American Exceptionalism
December 03, 2010

One of the most interesting ways in which the latest Wikileaks release of State Department cables has shone light on American foreign policy today has been the way it has revealed the degree of consensus that exists among policy intellectuals in the United States, regardless of where they hail from along the (mainstream) political spectrum.

The World Cup and Wikileaks: USA, 0-2
December 03, 2010

How shrewd is Vladimir Putin? In his bid to host a World Cup—an event that would inevitably turn into a grotesque advertisement for his regime, if one reasonably assumes that he’ll still be repressing Russia in 2018—Putin feigned contempt. He called the whole process of bidding for a World Cup an “unfair competition,” suggesting it had been rigged to favor his western European competitors. Then, of course, he turned around and entered the unfair competition in the ruthless manner it was meant to be played.

Wikileaks and the Art of Shutting Up
December 03, 2010

The public disclosure of some quarter million State Department cables (e-mails with multiple recipients, in essence) raise ethical and legal issues that I won’t discuss. Nor will I try to estimate the net harms (or maybe benefits) of making the cables public. I will address other questions: I’ll call them communication discipline, a culture of self-display, the technology of snooping, media desperation for content, and the social costs of overclassification.

Wiki! Wiki! Wiki!
December 02, 2010

Can't get enough of Wikileaks? Wonder what it will mean for U.S. foreign policy? Want to see a slideshow of the silliest, craziest, and most NSFW leaks? Check out all of TNR's obsessive coverage of the juicy State Department cables here.

Kimpossible
December 02, 2010

As the North Korea crisis spirals into its second week, and seemingly out of control, many American policymakers and pundits agree on one thing: China needs to do something about Pyongyang. “China is not behaving as a responsible world power,” Senator John McCain told CNN.  “They could bring the North Korean economy to their knees if they wanted to.”  State Department spokesman P.J.

The Irony of Wikileaks
December 01, 2010

There’s no question that many of the Wikileaks documents are a great read. These diplomatic conversations between American officials and leaders from the Arab world, China, and Europe provide important insights about the subtleties of U.S. policy and the complexities of dealing with different personalities and governments around the world. But the disclosures are not just interesting; they are also ironic. That’s because they undermine the very worldview that Julian Assange and his colleagues at Wikileaks almost certainly support.

A Defense of Wikileaks
December 01, 2010

The Obama administration has condemned Wikileaks for its second release within a year of classified foreign policy documents. And some liberal commentators have backed up the administration’s complaints. And I am not going to argue that the administration doesn’t have a case. Governments rely on candid assessments from their diplomats; and if Americans in overseas embassies have to assume that they are writing for the general public and not for their superiors back home, they are not likely to be very candid. But there is also something to be said in defense of Wikileaks.

The Art and Romance of the Diplomatic Cable
November 30, 2010

With Wikileaks's most recent release of official U.S. documents, I experienced again one of the best things about having left government service: I don’t have to read State Department “telegrams” anymore. This is not to say that such cables are of no value. Foggy Bottom traffic has its virtues.

Why Wikileaks Is Bad for Progressive Foreign Policy
November 30, 2010

Will the latest Wikileaks dump really matter that much? It’s true, as both Laura Rozen and Kevin Drum have observed, that many of the secret messages don’t seem to reveal big secrets. As Rozen wrote yesterday: one is struck overall that the classified diplomatic discussions on Iran revealed in the cables are not all that different from what one would expect from following the public comments senior U.S.

Keeping Secrets, Even From Wikileaks
November 29, 2010

The Wikileaks cables are certainly important: They make public the sort of first-hand, original-source information that, until now, it has taken historians and journalists years or decades to obtain. But does this mean that the days of secret diplomacy are over? Not even close. The reason is that the foreign policy bureaucracy will adjust, as it has before. True, Wikileaks has taken us well beyond the types of disclosures that the Freedom of Information Act, for the past several decades, has provided to journalists and historians.

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