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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Caution: Neo-cons at work -- Revisiting the Wikileaks data-dump (Updated)

Anglachel seems to be backing away from earlier comparisons between the Big WikiLeak Data-Dump and the Valerie Plame case. Nevertheless, a growing number of savvy commentators are coming around to the view that young Bradley Manning has been assigned the fall guy role. (Update: This CNN timeline assumes Bradley's responsibility for the data dump, yet offers zero evidence against him. Surreal!)

The big questions: Who is really running the show, and what's the motive for this operation?

Earlier, I suggested that the purpose might be to screw over Hillary Clinton, an idea borne out by Jack Shafer's new piece, which argues that she can no longer perform as Secretary of State. Hillary does seem to be at least a collateral target. But after looking at some of the actual cables (as opposed to reading the summaries offered by journalists), I think that an even larger goal motivated this leak.

This is about Iran. Someone out there wants war -- or at least an airstrike.

In other words: Welcome to neo-con country! Remember yellowcake? Remember the "laptop" documents? The war-lovers are at it again.

While we can't allege that Michael Ledeen had anything to do with the document dump, he surely welcomes the release of cables revealing that Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern states want America to take military action in Iran. If Mikey had personally cherry-picked a selection of diplomatic cables, would the results be terribly different?

Although the vast majority of the documents are of recent vintage, a few go way back -- 1966, 1972, 1979, 1986. In this post, let's pay special attention to the earliest examples. They too have a message.

As we ponder that message, let's ask ourselves a couple of questions. First: Why would these cables come within the purview of Bradley Manning, Private First Class? Second question: Why would he consider the release of this information so damned important as to justify the risk of a long imprisonment?

It's not as though you'll find the name of the grassy knoll shooter in these pages. In fact, these early cables do not directly address any issues that might embarrass this country's conservative elites.

None of the documents talk about war in Nicaragua or El Salvador. They don't critique Paraguay or Chile or Argentina or any other nation run by American-backed dictators. We get no behind-the-scenes assessments of Klaus Barbie's involvement with the "cocaine coup" in Bolivia. We learn nothing about the assault on the Liberty. Nothing about the sexual compromising of Saudi leaders. Nothing about Terpil or Wilson. Nothing about Jonestown or Guyana. Nothing about the downfall of Harold Wilson. Nothing about the mysterious funding of Solidarity. Nothing about the arming of Saddam Hussein.

In short: These historical records offer nary a word about any matter of interest to students of parapolitics in the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Nothing in these cables will inconvenience anyone who thinks the way Ann Coulter thinks.

So what do we get?

The earliest document concerns the extension of Argentina's claimed territorial sea. Uninteresting.

1972: A cable about the Shah of Iran's request for F-4E fighter jets. Conceivably, the release of this document serves a right-wing purpose: The Shah is pictured as America's staunch ally, while there is much talk about Russia's expansionist threat.

In 1972, the United States began to arm the Shah of Iran in a major way for the first time. After the Iranian revolution, the regime could no longer maintain its American weaponry, such as those F-4Es. Hence, Iran-gate.

This cable is an interesting read. Once again, the subject is Iran -- after the revolution and before the hostage crisis. The author is Bruce Laingen, the most important American official taken captive during the hostage crisis.

The cable offers what some regard as a racist assessment of the Persian character and mind-set. "Racism" may not be the proper term, although Laingen does indulge in a fair amount of ethnic stereotyping of the "All Jews are avaricious, all Irish are drunks and all Italians are hotheads" sort:
Perhaps the single dominant aspect of the Persian psyche is an overriding egoism. Its antecedents lie in the long Iranian history of instability and insecurity which put a premium on self-preservation. The practical effect of it is an almost total Persian preoccupation with self and leaves little room for understanding points of view other than one's own. Thus, for example, it is incomprehensible to an Iranian that U.S. immigration law may prohibit issuing him a tourist visa when he has determined that he wants to live in California.
The reverse of this particular psychological coin, and having the same historical roots as Persian egoism, is a pervasive unease about the nature of the world in which one lives. The Persian experience has been that nothing is permanent and it is commonly perceived that hostile forces abound. In such an environment each individual must be constantly alert for opportunities to protect himself against the malevolent forces that would otherwise be his undoing.
Coupled with these psychological limitations is a general incomprehension of causality. Islam, with its emphasis on the omnipotence of God, appears to account at least in major part for this phenomenon.
And so on. Obviously, no diplomat would resort to such language these days. At least I hope not.

The important point is this: Laingen's cable is useful to hawks who want to bomb Iran. This ethnocentric diatribe conveys the impression that Iranians can never be trusted, because every inhabitant of that country is an unstable egomaniac incapable of understanding the linkage between actions and consequences.

Later in 1979, Bruce Laingen famously warned President Carter about the dire consequences that might ensue if the Shah of Iran were admitted to the United States for medical treatment -- a prediction which came horribly true. Alas, other voices overruled Laingen's sound judgment on this issue. Those voices included Henry Kissinger, David Rockefeller, John McCloy and (I've been told) George H.W. Bush.

Odd, isn't it, that the data-dump has nothing to say about that sequence of events?

The sole cable from this year speaks of strained relationships between Spain and Qaddafi's Libya after the latter was found to be illegally funding a far-right group in Spain. Older readers will recall that, in the American media, Qaddafi was one of the most popular bad guys of the Reagan era. Thus, nothing in this cable inconveniences the neo-con world-view.

The only bit here that might surprise Americans is the revelation of Qaddafi's ties to the Spanish far right. Throughout the 1980s, American propagandists tried to paint him as a Moscow stooge.

If you're hoping for any mention of the Wilson/Terpil links to Libya, you hope in vain. Neither do we learn anything about the still-mysterious 1986 bombing of the La Belle disco in Germany, which led to the retaliatory bombing of Libya. Some have argued that Libya had nothing to do with the bombing.

(Incidentally, Spain did not allow American jets to fly through its airspace en route to Libya.)

1989: The sole cable from this year bears the heading "Panamanians hope for a successful coup." The title says it all. Nothing here will challenge any pro-Bush historians of the era.

And there you have it:
The earliest entries in the great Wikileaks data dump. How did this material find its way onto a data disk owned by PFC Bradley Manning? Why would Manning consider this stuff to be of vital importance to the outside world? Why did he (allegedly) risk his freedom to make this unchallenging right-wing boilerplate known to the public?

Something here reeks of fish.

This Guardian story backs up the theory that Manning is just a patsy.
Also in Qatar, the Peninsula newspaper quoted psychologist Dr Mozah al Malki as saying: "It is all deliberate. We can clearly see through the ploy. The idea of the so-called leaks is to further intensify tension between Iran and the Gulf Co-operation Council countries."
The splenetic Asa'd Abu Khalil, who writes the Angry Arab blog, noted that many Arabs on Twitter and Facebook have been raising questions about WikiLeaks because the revelations about the Middle East were largely either known or expected. "Some are noticing that nothing damaging to Israel – even diplomatically – has been released. Some are suggesting that the US government is behind WikiLeaks. Personally, I discount those conspiracy theories although conspiracy theories can be helpful."
Hey, glad I could help.
You said it back in your November 29 blog, only a few cables will reveal important things that serve a purpose. The few cables that reveal important information seem to deal with the Middle East, and Iran in particular. But I think there's another important purpose, to damage the image of the administration. On cue, the right wing megaphone is screaming that the administration has not done enough. Someone may want to push Obama to react in a certain direction to correct a damaged competency image (snark) that the perpetrators of the leak created.
I was really struck Monday by how the NY Times was spinning the cables to essentially push military action against Iran.
As noted today by Glenn Greenwald: "FAIR documents how severely and blatantly the New York Times reporting distorted some of these documents in order (as always) to demonize Iran and the 'threat' it poses."
Thanks for the analysis, Joseph... listening to the tv news, the only thing I could come up with "someone wants a war with Iran"...

figuring out which players want this the most is the key.
I hate to say it but Hillary used wikileaks to help normalize push for Iran war.
From her Monday Q and A with reporters after Speech:
“So if anyone reading the stories about these alleged cables thinks carefully, what they will conclude is that the concern about Iran is well founded, widely shared, and will continue to be at the source of the policy that we pursue with likeminded nations to try to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
I don't know which is scarier, that our government, or a faction in it would do this, or that the American public will believe it.

A third possibility is they know that we can see the man behind the curtain and just don't care.
I wonder if the attack on Hillary isn't so collateral after all. Rather than to pre-empt a primary challenge, which given her fierce party loyalty seems far-fetched, could the motive for these leaks be to remove an obstacle to war with Iran? Despite her tough stance publicly, I can imagine her working behind the scenes to avoid war if at all possible. I can also imagine a President with dismal approval ratings being anxious to launch an attack. In which case, the leak might be all and only about one thing.

The wikileaks brouhaha has been a total feeding frenzy by our illustrious "press and paid for." And the theories about ginning up war with Iran or cutting Hillary Clinton off at the knees all sound credible in a world where reason and credibility no longer exist. It could be both of these things or none of the above beyond a grand distraction as the country is pillaged by the ususal suspects. Very little air time has been given to the Fed's data dump, a bread crumb trail of where American wealth was carted off to [the list of European banks is just lovely but, of course, they weren't outdone by our own fraudsters. Even Mickey D's and Harley came in on the heist].

It's enough to give a grown woman a migraine.

Btw, the Honduras connection you mentioned in the new post hasn't been given much light of day. Too embarrassing, too revealing, I guess. And yes, as much as I admire Hillary Clinton this was not her finest or brightest moment.

But heck, it's so much easier to claim that Barack Obama is an evil socialist.

Hahaha! What a pathetic joke. And yet the electorate eats this stuff up. Go figure.
Zbigie Brzrsinski (sp) has remarked on the apparent agenda of the leaks as suspicious.

He said that the leaked notion that CHINA supports a unified Korean peninsula under SOUTH KOREAN rule is probably crap, designed to embarrass the Chinese and drive a wedge between them and their N. Korean client state.

He thinks the leaked urging of the various Gulf states for action against Iran's nuclear ambitions is also designed to weaken those states with their home audiences.

And Xymphora notes the virtual lack of any negative diplomatic assessments of Israel's actions within these time frames, although those must have occurred, if only secretly (as in, diplomatic cables of this type).

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