Whenever a vacuum exists, so does opportunity. So it is with the Wikileaks episode.
Personally, I am not at all appalled by the information that has been exposed. Diplomacy has always been carried on behind closed doors by just a few players. And why not? As we watch our own government (and multiply that by the plethora of other governments around the globe) falter, absent themselves from effective legislation to concentrate on the politics of the day, why the hell shouldn’t private, secret diplomacy rule? Somebody must address the issues that certainly are not being addressed by our partisan and greedy Congress.
Just yesterday, the GOP announced that they will filibuster any and all motions until they get the Bush tax cuts re-instated. Further, their main objective is to continue the blockage of any Obama legislation. How caring and effective is this policy for their constituents? Wonderful strategy.
Another case in point is the repeal of DADT. The Pentagon has completed its study, along with everybody else and their mother, concluding, along with the majority of Americans and servicemen, that the repeal of DADT will not be detrimental to our nation’s security or military morale. I understand the value of President Obama’s goal to repeal this policy through legislative process rather than presidential order. However, the time has come to make this happen. Commissions, studies and politics aside, the verdict is fairly unanimous.
The dysfunction of our government is so ingrained that it is refreshing to hear of those few diplomats who take the bull by the horns and actually institute policy. The United States has created such a political bureaucracy, disguised as “government”, that our legislative structure has become a caricature of itself. The void is providing ample opportunity for even crazier and greedier wannabes such as Sarah Palin, Sharon Angle, Michelle Bachmann and Christine O’Donnell. The Tea Party has validity because of the lack of any substantive, relevant agenda, followed up by actions, put forward by the existing two political parties. Moreover, these mainstream politicos are using their legislative listlessness as a means to justify our unwieldy government. Instead of altering the system to better effect change, they are wallowing in it for their own personal acclaim. There will always be plenty of people to step into a power void and provide new blood. This is good. However, the down side is that perhaps the devil we know might be better than the devil we don’t know.
Anyone who doubts this scenario has to look no further than the reign of Dick Cheney as Vice President. He saw the gridlock of our Congress. He recognized the political grandstanding and quest for personal gain that typifies our public servants. So he jumped into the fray, quietly but nonetheless vigorously, and basically pushed through his own legislation of unbridled economic de-regulation, blatant revocation of our individual rights through the Patriot Act and restrictive social policy. Of course, he had a lazy, dull-witted boss, who Cheney knew exactly how to play in order to get through his own agenda. That was probably the easiest part.
Thus, I see the value of closed-door policy making. Shoot: if our nation’s legislative branch is so removed from doing their jobs, kudos to those few who step in and get something done. So it is also on the international front. If you think our national government is useless, imagine the scale of the ineptitude and corruption on a global model. As for the petty comments about other countries and their leaders, what human relationship is not characterized by gossip and negative banter, all in the name of “bonding?” This is called the human condition, which is not admirable, but nevertheless, a reality.
The publication of these recent leaks is pretty much guaranteed by the precedent of the Pentagon Papers. If America is so embarrassed by this denouement, the time to make amends is not after the information is made public, but during the diplomatic sessions. Oh yeah: also, the United States and the world-at-large might benefit from engaging in actual effective, focused and benevolent governments. That’s a big one.