What does a child feel in a toy store? That must certainly be the feeling among intelligence officers, academics, journalists and the curious, who have looked at the tsunami of documents released last night by WikiLeaks, taken from secret U.S. State Department cables.
Diplomacy, like espionage, is based on secrecy, hush-hush agreements and in many cases also on lies. Now the screen has been lifted.
There is no doubt that there has been a huge blow to U.S. security, enormous embarrassment in relations with allies and in some cases substantive damage to the security of Washington's friends.
On the other hand, there is significant value in the information in the documents, which will allow a more reliable picture of the behind the scenes developments.
The pressure of the times allowed for only a quick haphazard look last night into a tiny portion of the documents that were disseminated.
Naturally, Israel is interested mostly in things pertaining to the Middle East. Below are some initial conclusions:
• America is deeply preoccupied with Iran. Whoever is blaming the U.S. for being indifferent to the Iranian nuclear threat is simply mistaken. The administrations in Washington may change but they are all applying enormous pressure, offering enticements and also threats in order to push forth the sanctions against Tehran, all the while trying to gather intelligence about Iran's intentions.
Other countries, from France to Azerbaijan, comprehend the Iranian threat. The special adviser to French President Nicolas Sarkozy has described the Iranian response to the compromise offer of U.S. President Barack Obama as a "farce," in talks with a U.S. envoy to Paris, according to the cables. Iran has a "fascist regime," says the French host.
Meanwhile, Iran's neighbors are pressuring the Americans to attack Iran's nuclear installations. Saudi King Abdullah explained, two and a half years ago, to Gen. David Petraeus that a determined and quick action is necessary.
"Bomb Iran or you will have to learn to live with its bomb," a senior Jordanian official warned the Americans.
This is an interesting point: For years Israel has complained about two faced conduct by moderate Arab states.
On the one hand they secretly urge Israel to attack Iraq and its proxies - Hamas and Hezbollah, but then they condemn its actions.
Now, at least as far as Iran is concerned, the picture is out in the public.
• Israel is pessimistic compared to the Americans on Iran's nuclear bomb time table. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in June 2009 that there are six to 18 months left for an effective strike.
This means until the end of this year. After that, "any military action would result in unacceptable collateral damage," according to a leaked cable.
• Overall, the world is a little more exposed since last night.
However, it would be interesting to see those who present themselves as fighters for freedom of expression use their skills also against less democratic states, like Iran and Syria.
It would be very interesting to know what is now being discussed in the foreign ministries or intelligence services in Tehran and Damascus.
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