The latest WikiLeaks trove of 250,000 diplomatic cables, obtained in advance by five news outlets, has generated enough fodder in the US alone to occupy American readers. But people all over, from Germany to Lebanon to Australia, are also talking about the sometimes troubling, sometimes mundane cables that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is gradually releasing for public consumption.
Never before in history has a superpower lost control of such vast amounts of such sensitive information – data that can help paint a picture of the foundation upon which US foreign policy is built. Never before has the trust America's partners have in the country been as badly shaken. Now, their own personal views and policy recommendations have been made public – as have America's true views of them.
The cables paint a far from flattering picture of the way US diplomats categorize their colleagues. (“Every actor is quickly categorized as a friend or foe.”) Most damaging though, writes Spiegel, is how clear it is that the US has been manipulated by its Middle East partners and their internal conflicts.
On the whole, the cables from the Middle East expose the superpower's weaknesses. Washington has always viewed it as vital to its survival to secure its share of energy reserves, but the world power is often quickly reduced to becoming a plaything of diverse interests. And it is drawn into the animosities between Arabs and Israelis, Shiites and Sunnis, between Islamists and secularists, between despots and kings. Often enough, the lesson of the documents that have now been obtained, is that the Arab leaders use their friends in Washington to expand their own positions of power.
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