In lightning response to WikiLeaks' release of more than 90,000 classified reports that unshockingly depict a ghastly intersection of America's increasing helplessness and the Taliban's accelerating strength, National Security Adviser Jim Jones unleashed a minor barrage of mind-numbing bureaucratese:
"These irresponsible leaks will not impact our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan; to defeat our common enemies; and to support the aspirations of the Afghan and Pakistani people."
Well, as long as "these irresponsible leaks" won't degrade our foolish consistency of despotic alliances or upset the delicate, self-negating balance of "common enemies" and deep "partnerships," we should be OK; which is to say, Jones' critical insertion of the qualifying "irresponsible" was superfluous at best.
Another, anonymous White House official varied Jones' theme of linguistic torture:
"[I]t’s worth noting that WikiLeaks is not an objective news outlet but rather an organization that opposes U.S. policy in Afghanistan."
Now there's one of the hottest chestnuts ever among prominent logical fallacies: attack the source, however irrelevant the source itself may be to the principal story. One can imagine the biting critique of a Goebbels Dispatch: "It's worth nothing that Edward R. Murrow's CBS Radio is not an objective news outlet but rather an organization that opposes German policy in the skies over London."
Yeah, OK, so now we'll witness the full force of tiresome predictability: Liberal bloggers and commentators will go berserk in denouncing executive secrecy and right-wing bloggers and commentators will go equally berserk in denouncing First Amendment treachery.
This two-sided outrage will last for roughly 48 hours, admittedly a rather pleasant diversion from the 72-hour outrage over the Sherrod Affair, in which liberal bloggers denounced right-wing racism and right-wing bloggers denounced liberal racism. There's nothing like one of these enlightening "national debates," don't you think?
But, official and unofficial horseshit aside, from all of the NY Times' thousands of words this morning in its reporting of Wikileaks' leaks, this line jumped out at me with uncommon power:
"While current and former American officials interviewed could not corroborate individual reports, they said that the portrait of [Pakistan's] spy agency’s collaboration with the Afghan insurgency was broadly consistent with other classified intelligence."
With other classified intelligence? Pakistan's super-"secretive" doings with Afghan insurgents is about as mysterious as today's hamburger specials in the Daily Shopper.
This, from a month ago, and again, the Times:
"Pakistani officials say they can deliver the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani, an ally of Al Qaeda who runs a major part of the insurgency in Afghanistan, into a power-sharing arrangement" -- a promise that positively dripped with implications of all manner of Pakistani collaboration. Indeed, "Some officials in the Obama administration have not ruled out incorporating the Haqqani network in an Afghan settlement, though they stress that President Obama’s policy calls for Al Qaeda to be separated from the network."
Then this, my absolute favorite part: "American officials are skeptical that that can be accomplished." One marvels here at the euphemistically soft expectations of concrete disbelief.
What's more -- and this, once again, from a month ago -- Pakistan's spy agency took the rather uncharacteristic step of open diplomacy, blurting that America's Afghanistan campaign "will not succeed," largely because as the "security situation ... become[s] more dangerous," America's dedication to Afghanistan will eventually wane to invisibility.
It's my scarcely singular but unwavering conviction that Obama's commitment to Afghanistan is, by now, almost wholly a negative one: that is, he stays only because he doesn't know how to get out. I'm, let's say, "skeptical" that he believes any more than the time of day from Gen. David Petraeus, while the geopolitical and domestic political fallout of withdrawal ramifies monstrously in his mind. As retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey said the other day in a television interview, Of course there's an alternative to continued American deployment -- the alternative being "a disaster of monumental proportions."
A some point, however, Obama must accept that America's disaster is separable from Afghanistan's -- whether it is or not -- and thus he must allow the inevitable fallout to begin. After all, he's no more straitjacketed in leaving than he is in staying.