January 5, 2011
Obama under the Glare of WikiLeaksBy Janet Levy
When queried about the release of secret U.S. diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs replied, "We should never be afraid of one guy who plopped down $35 and bought a web address."
While the White House may be unafraid of Assange and his website, the impact of the information itself is undeniable. It may be too early to fully assess the damage to national security wrought by Assange, but one thing is clear: government accounts of several key issues and newsworthy events have vastly diverged from the reality revealed in the cables.
For example, the WikiLeaks cables reveal Obama administration duplicity in its prerequisite that an Arab-Palestinian state be established before a solution could be brokered with Gulf Arabs over the Iranian nuclear threat. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have long maintained the charade that action on Iran was contingent upon Israeli cooperation and concessions to Arab-Palestinians as confidence-building gestures. These demands included the scaling back of security measures such as roadblocks and checkpoints (that previously saved Israeli lives and stopped terrorist attacks), the release of large numbers of Arab-Palestinians terrorists from Israeli jails, the free flow of materials into Gaza (which have included military supplies and weapons for Hamas), and the relinquishing of key West Bank cities which Israel obtained after being attacked in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The Obama administration and the European Union have repeatedly admonished Israel for derailing the peace process by not meeting these comprehensive requirements, even as Arabs continue to build illegally on Jewish-owned land and the Palestinian Authority refuses to disavow terrorism and recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The WikiLeaks cables revealed as completely false this premise of Israeli cooperation needed before Arab cooperation. Arab-Muslim nations -- Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates -- have pleaded with the United States to take action against Iran without any preconditions for Arab-Palestinian statehood. They fear the threat posed by Iran and want the United States to take the lead and destroy Iranian nuclear installations. Israeli concessions as a "carrot" to create Arab Gulf states' receptivity before action can be taken is an Obama administration invention, serving only to pressure Israel to relinquish yet more land.
Other diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks shed light on the pubic relations snow job questioning Israel's sincerity and commitment to Arab-Palestinian statehood. The cables revealed Israel's unsuccessful attempts to pass control of Gaza to Egypt, thus underscoring Israel's lack of desire to rule over the area. Further, Israel has demonstrated a dedication to statehood for Arab-Palestinians, as evidenced by its active involvement in the development of viable infrastructure, agricultural capabilities, and a variety of civic projects, all this despite continued calls for "death to Israel" and acts of terrorism against the Jewish State by Arab-Palestinians. WikiLeaks also proved that previously discounted reports by Israelis that Islamic terrorists were using ambulances to commit terrorist acts during the 2006 war were, in fact, true. Iran actually used the Red Crescent to ship weapons and terrorists into Lebanon to infiltrate Iraq.
WikiLeaks releases also expose the startling level of vitriol against the State of Israel from EU members, 65 years after the Holocaust. For example, WikiLeaks revealed that Germany pressured the United States to blackmail Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to maintain a moratorium on building in Israeli communities in return for U.S. condemnation of the United Nations' Goldstone Report. That 2009 report blamed Israel for deliberately targeting civilians during the 2006 war in Gaza. It ignored significant facts on the ground, such as the Arab-Palestinian use of human shields and the booby-trapping of residential property leading to higher civilian deaths.
Another EU country, Ireland, which had expelled an Israeli diplomat following the assassination of a key Hamas terrorist, forbade U.S. transfers of arms to Israel through Shannon Airport during the Second Lebanon War. Also noted was the fact that several EU countries stopped selling Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) parts to Israel following the 2008 war.
Further, WikiLeaks unmasked the true posture of so-called U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Syria, and Pakistan, who have all supported terrorist groups and thereby endangered U.S. national security objectives. Saudi Arabia was exposed as the most significant funding source for Sunni terrorist groups worldwide, including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Lashkar-e-Toiba. The UAE and Kuwait were shown to be remiss at stopping terrorist financing and coordination that didn't affect them internally. Meanwhile, Syria permitted terrorist training within its borders and served as a staging area for suicide bombers into Iraq. Pakistan's long-suspect intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, continues to maintain ties and provide refuge to Islamist groups and undermine U.S. efforts to designate terrorists.
Obama's outreach and appeasement of the Muslim world has been a feature of his presidency from the beginning of his term: his first presidential address in Cairo, his admonitions to NASA to engage with Muslim nations and "help them feel good about their historic contribution to science," his praise of Muslim-majority Indonesia despite horrific treatment of that nation's Christians, his bow to Saudi King Abdullah, his apology to the Muslim world on Al-Arabiya, and other actions. However, WikiLeaks further exposed the extent of his outreach to Muslims in a cable to U.S. diplomats in Britain. In it, Obama ordered outreach efforts to Britain's Muslim community as a top priority vital to U.S. foreign policy interests in the U.K. and beyond. This is a remarkable order in light of the fact that a recent survey of British Muslims revealed that fully one-third backed killing in the name of Islam and 40% want Islamic sharia law in Britain.
Pressure by U.S. diplomats on Pope Benedict to be more pro-Islamic provided further evidence of special accommodation to the Muslim world. In an academic lecture he gave in 2006, the pope referenced a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who referred to Mohammed as bringing "only evil and inhuman things." Following a fury of criticism from Muslim countries and pressure from the Obama administration, the Pope moderated his public statements to be more conciliatory toward Islam.
In non-Middle East global politics, Obama administration hypocrisy also prevails, according to the WikiLeaks cables. For all the public statements and displays of unity with Russia in the fight against Islamists, American diplomats actually perceived Russia as deeply corrupt, undemocratic, and penetrated by organized crime. Apparently, Putin has an illicit fortune stashed away outside of the country. The pretense of good relations with Turkey was also a sham. Per the WikiLeaks cables, U.S. diplomats recognized that the no-longer-secular Turkish government has embraced fundamentalist Islam and has moved away from the West and toward Hamas and Iran, even supplying Iran with nuclear materials.
WikiLeaks also exposed Obama's policy of restraining the retaliatory actions of U.S. allies that were under attack. Although Israel was under siege by Hamas and Fatah, India was suffering attacks by Pakistani jihadists, and South Korea lives under the shadow of nuclear threats from Kim Jong-il, Obama helped prevent these three nations from retaliatory actions against their enemies, who are also threats to the United States.
When Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya attempted to illegally and unilaterally override his country's constitution and serve another presidential term, Obama was fully aware that Zelaya posed a threat to democracy. The WikiLeaks cables indicated that Obama backed Zelaya in order to please Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks' massive release of more than 392,000 Iraq war logs, preceding the release of the diplomatic cables, contained a surprising vindication of President George W. Bush and his designation of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as the Axis of Evil. Despite accusations that Bush lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction, U.S. military troops uncovered the existence of said weapons in Saddam's Iraq, including 550 metric tons of yellowcake and chemical weapons labs. Also uncovered was Iran's attempt to develop influence in Iraq by paying Iraqi surrogates an estimated $100 million to $200 million annually. For Iran, a pro-Iran Shia-dominated Islamist government was a top priority, and Iranian leadership attempted to influence the outcome of Iraq's election in their favor.
The analysis of WikiLeaks cables will continue, as will the assessment of damages and charges against Julian Assange on unrelated matters. Meanwhile, the public has had the benefit of a glaring, disinfecting light thrown on Obama's duplicitous foreign policy. It is not surprising that public trust in government is at an all-time low. The WikiLeaks cables indicate that this distrust is apparently well-deserved. Thus, the Obama administration should be well afraid -- if not of WikiLeaks, then of the reaction from a now-enlightened and informed public.