War against Iran more likely — thanks to Wikileaks

If the release of the Pentagon Papers epitomized the value of government leaks as a means of speaking truth to power, Wikileaks at this point can claim no such distinction.

As if to underline the extent to which the Afghan war logs are making the fog of war more, not less, dense, Katrina vanden Heuvel says: “more than a few commentators — including Daniel Ellsberg himself — have called [the war logs] a 21st-century Pentagon Papers.”

She may understandably have been misled by a headline in The Guardian that read: “Daniel Ellsberg describes Afghan war logs as on a par with ‘Pentagon Papers’.” However, “These documents are not the Pentagon Papers — we still await their equivalent for Afghanistan,” is what Ellsberg unambiguously told the Financial Times.

While Wikileak’s founder, Julian Assange, is no doubt sincere in his hope that these intelligence revelations will expose the futility of war, the fact is, because intelligence is not intelligent it can very easily be used to serve a host of diverging political agendas.

If opponents of the war in Afghanistan now feel better armed, so do proponents of an expanding war in Pakistan. Likewise, those pushing for military action against Iran will welcome a new supply of ammunition served by Wikileaks.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported:

Cooperation among Iran, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremist groups is more extensive than previously known to the public, according to details buried in the tens of thousands of military intelligence documents released by an independent group Sunday.

U.S. officials and Middle East analysts said some of the most explosive information contained in the WikiLeaks documents detail Iran’s alleged ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda, and the facilitating role Tehran may have played in providing arms from sources as varied as North Korea and Algeria.

The officials have for years received reports of Iran smuggling arms to the Taliban. The WikiLeaks documents, however, appear to give new evidence of direct contacts between Iranian officials and the Taliban’s and al Qaeda’s senior leadership. It also outlines Iran’s alleged role in brokering arms deals between North Korea and Pakistan-based militants, particularly militant leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and al Qaeda.

Here we see one of the most bizarre twists in the story: US government sources now using the leaked documents to buttress the current anti-Iran narrative and in the process acting as though the intelligence reports are providing information that hadn’t been accessible inside government until they were leaked!

At the very same time, the State Department’s leading expert on Iran, John Limbert — a genuine source of intelligence and “the most qualified person on the Iran team at State in the three decades I have lived in the United States,” according to Haleh Esfandiari, head of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars — is about to resign.

At Foreign Policy, Barbara Slavin writes:

[I]t’s hard not to view Limbert’s departure as a turning point and yet another missed opportunity in U.S.-Iran relations. A number of players with more skeptical views about the prospect of rapprochement with Tehran — such as White House aide Dennis Ross and nonproliferation experts like Robert Einhorn and Gary Samore — appear to be driving U.S. policy now, and the president himself blames the Iranian government for failing to respond to his outreach.

What could please the attack-Iran lobby more than to see the departure of the most skilled American proponent of engagement and at the same time to be served a prize piece of propaganda by an outfit aligned with the anti-war movement?!

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10 thoughts on “War against Iran more likely — thanks to Wikileaks

  1. RLaing

    Sure, but propaganda is a tool of war; not a cause.

    Covert attack is already underway of course, but if the US has not overtly attacked Iran to date, it is because a preponderance of its elites have not yet come to the conclusion that the benefits outweigh the risks of an open attack.

    When the balance of opinion tilts the other way, there will be war without regard to what propaganda currently is or is not available: if necessary, the appropriate pretexts will simply be manufactured.

  2. Linda J

    What an idiotic conclusion. As you said, the govt had this information already. You’re helping them by blaming wikileaks for making it public.

    Commenter RLaing above is correct. And you are just letting the govt off the hook. Geez lawheez!!!!!!

  3. Christopher Hoare

    Ah yes — what good governance. These reports here are entirely irrelevant and unreliable, because we don’t like them, but these which play to our prejudice and our interests will be upheld as vital evidence for the policy we want to pursue. Hypocrisy is too mild a word to condemn it.

    The problem is systemic in a hidden government system where influence and bribery and so-called experts can dictate policy. The only solution is to have the governing power entirely within a representative body that conducts most of its business in public and has enough participants that backroom deals are easier to unmask. The parliamentary system doesn’t fit this perfectly, but goes a lot closer than the US tricameral farce does. Must remember this next time when civilization flies apart and we have to rebuild.

  4. DE Teodoru

    Perhaps it will take time for people to realize how dangerous is Israel to America, how enraged are non-Zionist officials and how fearful are Jews of an American Krystalnaht. Until then please not the extreme deterioration of the US economy, will and the capability of its people. Obama’s no FDR but rather a total failure in conveying to the American people the sense that their man is in power. Should he or Israel initiate war with Iran, the consequences will so enrage people that we’ll have blood in the streets. Obama knows that only when the clamps he lid on Likud and its American minions and revitalizes the American economy can he make any claim in the eyes of Clio, the Muse of History. Until then he is desperate to hang in there as votes leave him like red blood corpuscles were leaving Caesar at his assassination. Expect no war for these Wikileak documents show that we masterfully absolutely screwed up the last two. There’s nothing there to justify stepping in poop a thirst time: once stupidly (Afghanistan); a second time to get the other foot out (Iraq); and finally to appease the Zionist money bags by attacking Iran or allowing out total dependent to do so. The fact is that Israel is now universally seen as it sees itself: as a STRATEGIC LIABILITY and it is issuing babbles through its blind supporters trying to hide the smell of fear. It would do better look for a way to peace than a way to war as no one can afford any more Bush-it!

  5. John Sp.

    I don’t get it. Since when is the WSJ a good source? We can all read the Afghan War Diaries for ourselves, so why don’t they bother to cite exactly which documents they are referring to? The quotes used by the WSJ are pathetically small and few. This probably means the WSJ authors haven’t actually read any of the original documents. There’s a good chance the article is just some organization’s press release with a few superficial changes made so that the WSJ can claim authorship, as is all too common in the media these days.
    Moreover, in reading the article in The Guardian, it appears that much of the importance of the Afghan War Diaries is in how they diverge from and muddle the truth. In other words, as I understand it, the Afghan War Diaries must be compared with reality to be understood, and to take them at face value is a mistake.

  6. Mike 71

    Not all of the news revealed by Wikileaks is good news, nor does all of it support arguments against continued war; some of it confirms things long suspected, such as the Pakistani I.S.I. intelligence agency collaboration with the Afghan Taliban, and now the Wall Street Journal account of Iranian, al-Qaida, Taliban and Sunni extremist collaboration against the U.S. being more extensive than previously suspected. The fact that the Iranians provided “explosively formed projectiles,” used successfully against U.S. armored vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan is well documented. The intelligence exposed by Wikileaks is what it is: intelligence, not propaganda! It cannot be ignored, as Gen. William Westmoreland did, to his regret, with Vietnamese Order of Battle intelligence delivered by the C.I.A. just prior to Tet in 1968.

    An attack on Iran is more likely to come from the U.S. than from Israel, but Israel certainly has its own justification to attack.
    The Islamo-Fascist, Marxist-Leninist, and ultra-right-wing anti-Semitic coalition against Israel will support the case for a pre-emptive Israeli launch of missiles, some of them nuclear tipped, inevitable, as long as the doctrine that only one or the other, but not both Iran or Israel can continue to exist, prevails! Given the history of the Jews over the last century, the notion of an unarmed Israel is inconceivable! The fact that the coalition has utterly failed to sever the U.S.-Israeli alliance, an essential element for the defeat of Israel, bodes ill for that coalition and also for Iran!

    If the polls are correct, American sentiment for an attack on Iran remains strong and memories of the 1979 Tehran Embassy seizure are still fresh in the minds of many. As President Ahmadinejad recently proclaimed, there will be a U.S. attack on tow nations, one of them being Iran within the next three months. It is more likely than not that his prediction will be correct!

  7. scott

    Just a point of fact, Wayne Madsen, think of him what you will (can be put in the Alex Jones camp) says that WikiLeaks is itself a CIA program.

    Whatever, an attack on Iran will bankrupt the US. If not bankruptcy, it will likely cause the US to retreat from the Middle East and Israel, to forestall bankruptcy. I don’t know if you noticed, but we really don’t have the money to call our own shots. I believe the only reason China and Russia aren’t more strenuously opposing us is that they believe we’re over-extending ourselves. So, they’re all too willing to give us a little rope.

    We are rushing in, paving the way for them to flow in, after our wake and departure bearing gifts. They don’t need to bring soldiers, weapons and war but police, aid and development. They will capitalize these improvements, just what we were hoping to achieve, but had grown too corrupt to do the job. The irony is that there is an unnamed party, Corporations, who will benefit themselves, regardless which nation wins.

  8. Iran-Contra

    @Mike 71

    Do you consider justified to overthrow Regimes like in Operation Ajax? Why aren’t the Iranians allowed to do this to? 1979 Tehran Embassy seizure was vengeance. What’s wrong about that?

  9. Norman

    Take your eye off the ball, what happens? Unless someone can say for sure, the decision makers don’t have a personal stake in any of these Wars. No Sons or Daughters serving in the conflicts, but it appears that the “Chicken Hawks” have the stage, even the P.O.T.U.S. falls into that category. As for all the old guard Military types, they should be retired. Then we have all the members of the Right wing think tanks who are Israeli sycophants pushing to go to War with Iran, just like Iraq, then to keep Afghanistan going, now trying to extend it to Iran. If this present mind set gets their way, the U.S.A. will surpass the “Hundred Years War” of the past. Quick, the Boggy man is coming to get us, is the cry of this 21st century, from the corrupt lips of the U.S. establishment. What these fools don’t seem to understand is, where do they think they are going to live after the U.S. has crumbled?

  10. Dave Kimble

    WSJ > “Cooperation among Iran, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremist groups …”

    Iran is not a Sunni extremist group, they are Shi’ites, which Al Qaeda types think are sub-human and worthy of extermination. That is not to say that no Iranian would consider gun-running in the vast mountainous regions bordering Afghanistan, but the Government would be totally against it. In fact when the US invaded Afghanistan they were doing Iran a favour, and Iran offered them assistance. Likewise the invasion of Iraq has clearly advantaged Iran by bringing the Shi’ite majority to power there.

    The ability of Iran to attack US warships and bases in the Middle East, and to stop the flow of oil to world markets causing chaos in the oil-importing countries, means an attack on Iran would be suicidal for the US. The Wikileaks papers have done nothing to change that.

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