In postscript to today's earlier blog, I'd like to highlight the following lines from the Obama administration's formal response to the WikiLeaks disclosures, which included countless private communications back and forth among various ground-level diplomats and their Washington overseers:
"By its very nature, field reporting to Washington is candid and often incomplete information. It is not an expression of policy, nor does it shape final policy decisions."That bears serious contemplation. What Washington is saying is that the cables, emails and other materials released by WikiLeaks contain preliminary brainstorming and "thinking-stage" reactions that should not be confused with, or misinterpreted as, fully formed policy or even actionable intent. And yet those materials are bound to be inflammatory and unhelpful in further diplomatic activities.
As a comparison, I recently watched the riveting film Thirteen Days, a dramatization of the Cuban missile crisis and the Kennedy administration's handling of same. Needless to say, there were many high-level meetings and impromptu tete-a-tetes during that two-week crisis when the viewpoints expressed were along the lines of "Kruschev is an asshole" or "The Soviets are a bunch of sociopaths who deserve to die" or "If we know what's good for us, we'd better bomb the shit out of them before they bomb the shit out of us." Would we want those sentiments to become general knowledge? To be framed as official policy?
Or to put all this in more personal terms: Yeah, we all say that a marriage should be based on openness and honesty ... but ... would you want every fragmentary or momentary thought or feeling you ever have about your mate (or, God help you, about another man or woman) to become known to him or her?
I didn't think so.