Monday, July 26, 2010

The Afghan Leaks by Wikileaks

I think this leak and the blogosphere reaction to it highlights a crucial failing of the Obama administration. We need a coherent and honest explanation of some confusing and difficult circumstances here. We are dealing with murky and ambivalent governments in Afpak, and if we stop doing so their resources and people are likely to fall into the hands of Islamic extremists. Imagine the US nuke arsenal in the hands of the militias of Idaho, and American women subject to retrograde sexist strictures. It is also true that our own military has conflicting views on how to handle the guerilla warfare in Afpak, and many of the commanders still think that brute, brutal force is best.

But except when the President speaks in reaction to something like this leak, we don't get that kind of communication. It is not enough that Obama's intelligence and good will are widely respected. The people in charge of his political operation, such as David Axelrod, need to provide a stream of information about the situation, why we are there, what we are doing, and what the prospects are. Without it, they leave the public to the tender mercies of duplicitous self-aggrandizing groups and Fox News. The Wikileaks information would have a very different impact if the Obama Administration were paying more attention to keeping the public properly informed.

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