photo © 2010 Espen Moe | more info (via: Wylio)
There is a new batch of leaked documents going up on WikiLeaks, and published in the NY Times, this time focusing on State Department communications. More than half of the documents cover diplomatic discussions from the past several years, and thus are pertinent to current diplomatic relationships. As a diplomatic historian, I have a very good understanding of the importance of access to diplomatic records, but the release of these documents is unreasonable and possibly unethical. It harms current American foreign policy, threatens relationships with allies, friends, neutrals, and enemies, and could very well put the lives of individuals who provide information and intelligence to American officials in danger. Every country needs to keep secrets, even things that are not necessarily classified in an intelligence or military sense. Putting this type of material in the open is just wrong, and WikiLeaks should reconsider its actions.
Because who doesn’t like to have some fun with negotiations with hardline Islamists: “Top 10 ways to tell your new Taliban friend is an impostor”
I originally intended to analyze NATO’s Lisbon summit issue by issue, but as I went through the results of the two days, it became clear that that wasn’t really necessary, and that it would be better to look at the summit, and the Alliance, as a whole. So I’ll start with some limited looks at the issues, and then try to wrap things up a little more substantively at the end.
As the UN Tribunal for Lebanon apparently seems ready to bring indictments in the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri, there are questions about why and how it decided to focus its investigation on Hezbollah rather than Syria itself, and if the decision was political instead of investigatory. But as this CBC report makes clear, the investigation uncovered clear and direct, albeit circumstantial, evidence that Hezbollah carried ou the assassination, almost certainly at the orders of Syria. It’s a truly fascinating report, and should be required reading/viewing for anyone looking at Lebanon and Syria right now.
Rather than go into covering the Lisbon meeting with analysis, I’m going to start with some posts providing some background from around the web. First up will be the likely decision to set 2014 as the target date for ending ISAF.
The Wasington Post provides some of the basics.
The LA Times presents the American perspective.
This Reuters report gives a more ground-level view, one that is less optimistic about 2014.
NPR explores the success, at least in the short term, that the COIN strategy is having, and asks if that will translate into long-term success.
This weekend sees the convening of what is likely to be the most important NATO summit of the last decade, if not since the end of the Cold War. The Alliance has brought itself to a pivotal moment, and the decisions made in Lisbon could decide whether NATO’s future is European, Euro-Asian, global, or something else entirely. In preparation for the meeting, Steven Pifer and Justin Vaïsse at the Brookings institution provide a thorough backgrounder to the issues that divide NATO, and how the Allies will likely seek to resolve them. While the current differences - especially the existential ones between the new members, the French and Germans, and the British and Americans - seem larger, they are really not that different from the issues that divided the Allies throughout NATO’s history, from questions of nuclear weapons, to levels of integration, to the wisdom of post-Warsaw Pact expansion. The most likely result of the conference, beyond the almost certain targeting of 2014 as the end date for ISAF in Afghanistan, is a Strategic Concept that provides cover to all of the different factions on all of the different issues, in a way that allows NATO to continue much as it has. This perspective may sound cynical, but in fact one of the great successes behind NATO has been the Alliance’s ability to function as a mutual defense organization despite the many differences that have divided its members. The 2010 Strategic Concept will not be perfect, nor will it in fact satisfy any of its adherents. But there is virtually no chance of any of the members finding it so problematic as to question their commitment to their allies.
A couple of film links this Friday (well, actually, film review links, but all the same). The first one covers the mockumentary jihadi comedy “Four Lions“. The second covers the actual Estonian documentary “Disco and Atomic War“, which is more history than current, but I can’t resist an opportunity to bring up this classic clip. Enjoy!