As most undoubtedly already know, Wikileaks dumped another load of the State Department’s dirty laundry onto the pages of the New York Times this morning. You can read Victor Davis Hanson’s reaction to the controversy here, Bing West’s here, and James Carafano’s here.
But what of note was actually in the dump? None of the 251,287 cables that the Times obtained was “top secret,” but 11,000 were “secret” and 9,000 were “noforn” — that is, not to be shared with foreign governments. Among the more interesting findings is the revelation that Arab countries prodded the U.S. to confront Iran over its nuclear program. One cable, for instance, quotes King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as saying the U.S. needed to “cut off the head of the snake” before it grew too dangerous.
To tighten U.N. sanctions against the Iranian regime, however, the U.S. needed Russia and China’s votes on the Security Council. In an article drawing on the leaked cables, the Times outlines the steps the Obama administration took to gain their cooperation. China was wary of offending Iran, which supplies almost 12 percent of its oil:
Obama administration officials have previously said that the year before, a senior adviser on Iran, Dennis B. Ross, traveled to Saudi Arabia to seek a guarantee that it would supply the lost oil if China were cut off.
The cables show that Mr. Ross had indeed been in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, in April 2009. While there is no direct account of those meetings, a suggestion of dazzling success turns up later, in cables describing meetings between Saudi and Chinese officials.
Russia, meanwhile, had balked at former president George W. Bush’s plans for a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic:
. . . Mr. Obama gave the Russians what they wanted: he abruptly replaced the Eastern Europe site with a ship-borne system. . . .
Whatever the dynamic, Mr. Obama had removed the burr under the Russians’ saddle, and in January 2010, one cable reported, a senior Russian official “indicated Russia’s willingness to move to the pressure track.”
Also detailed is the Obama administration’s horse-trading over Guantanamo Bay. To get a meeting with the president, the administration told Slovenia it had to take one of the prisoners. In addition, American diplomats told Belgium that accepting more prisoners would be “a low-cost way . . . to attain prominence in Europe.”
The leaked documents shed light on other international troubles. The U.S. embassy in Beijing, for example, believes the Chinese Politburo facilitated the hack attack on Google in January. And since 2007, the U.S. has been trying to divert highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani reactor. Emphasis on the word “trying”:
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.”