Ron Ben-Yishai

No alternative to America

Op-ed: WikiLeaks information won’t harm world’s ties with US, which has no substitute

Part 1 of analysis


To be honest, I’m disappointed. As a journalist I expected a hurricane of classified information that would shock the global village. Yet what did we get so far? A shallow tsunami of facts, 96% of which had been published by the media before, with the addition of some colorful details. Is it interesting? Certainly, yet in no way is this an earthquake.


I do not underestimate, heaven forbid, the damage caused to the United States and its allies worldwide. The exposure of the documents on WikiLeaks Sunday would make it more difficult for American diplomacy to function properly in the near future, and indirectly this is very bad for Israel.


However, it should be noted that the image and interests of Israel and its leaders were mostly unscathed. The revelations portray us quite well and in many cases they even serve Israel’s public relations effort.


Those damaged by the material exposed include Washington, of course, but mostly its allies – leaders of the Arab Gulf states and the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The WikiLeaks revelations may prompt domestic difficulties for them and allow the Iranian propaganda machine and al-Qaeda to slam them and present them as traitors to Islam. The Turkish leadership also emerges from these reports bruised and battered.


As a result, the leaders of these states will apparently toughen their positions and tend to avoid secret deals with Washington’s emissaries and with eager Western diplomats. These leaders will also be careful about engaging in open dialogue on issues of common interest with Western diplomats.


Europeans used to criticism

However, the field and assessment assets of US intelligence agencies and of America’s allies were not exposed and were barely harmed. The same is true for the West’s and Israel’s ability to contend with terrorism and with nuclear proliferation. We can also assume that the overall damage to American diplomacy is reversible.


European leaders who were the targeted of uncomplimentary remarks by US diplomats would be able to sustain the insult and maintain the close ties with America. The Western world has no alternative leader that could replace Washington, and politicians in democratic states are used to sustaining criticism, even when it is insulting and disparaging, and move on.


Meanwhile, both Afghani President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari have known for a while now what officials in Washington think about them. They already read about it in the New York Times and Washington Post, and they too have no alternative to the aid and political support they receive from the US.


Hence, in about six months to a year, once the dust settles and the impression left by the unfavorable remarks evaporates, world leaders will continue to maintain their close ties with Washington. They will also have to believe the US Administration when it tells them that it undertook an information security revolution in order to prevent further leaks.


Part 2 of article to be published Monday night



פרסום ראשון: 11.29.10, 18:04
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