WikiLeaks is exposing the way our government conducts "business." It is not a pretty process. Sometimes Uncle Sam limps along like a powerless giant, as when secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton vainly plead with China to stop facilitating the military rise of Iran. (But don't let that stop you from buying that made-in-China flat-screen TV for Christmas. Great price.) Sometimes Uncle Sam slimes around like the mob, as when shutting down opposition to the Copenhagen climate accord is his racquet and bullying is his game.
The rock-bottom worst of the revelations, however, shows Uncle Sam patronizing the American people, lying to us about fundamental issues that any democracy catastrophically attacked and supporting armies abroad ever since doesn't merely deserve to know, but needs to know. Our democracy demands it, if it is to remain a democracy.
Most pundits, certainly on the Right, disagree. As Commentary editor Gabriel Schoenfeld wrote in the WSJ this week: WikiLeaks "is not informing our democracy but waging war on its ability to conduct diplomacy and defend itself."
Funny, but I feel more informed -- and particularly about what a rotten job the government knows it's doing in conducting diplomacy and waging war on democracy's behalf. I know more about the government's feckless accommodation of incomparable corruption in Afghanistan; its callousness toward Pakistani government support for the Taliban and other groups fighting our soldiers in Afghanistan; its inability to prevail upon "banker" China to stop facilitating the military rise of Iran (mentioned above but worth a reminder) and its failures to prevail upon aid-recipient Pakistan to allow us to secure its vulnerable nuclear assets.
One running theme that emerges from the leaked cables is that the U.S. government consistently obscures the identity of the nation's foes, for example, depicting the hostile peoples of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States as "allies." It's not that such hostility is a secret, or even constitutes news. But the cables reveal that our diplomats actually recognize that these countries form the financial engine that drives global jihad, or, as they mincingly prefer to call it, "terrorism." But they, with the rest of the government, kept the American people officially in the dark.
Then came WikiLeaks, Internet publisher of leaked information, prompting the question: What is more important -- the information theft that potentially harms government power, or the knowledge contained therein that might salvage our national destiny?