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Posted at 9:46 AM ET, 11/29/2010

A bad few days for multilateralism

By Ezra Klein

Here's what other countries are learning about the United States this month: We can't keep our confidential discussions with you private and we can't credibly commit to the treaties we agree on with you in public. Between the embarrassment that many countries are suffering at the hands of WikiLeaks and the GOP's seemingly successful effort to stymie the START treaty that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expended serious capital to negotiate, it's going to get much harder to assure other nations that communicating and negotiating with the U.S. on sensitive matters is worth the risks.

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 9:46 AM ET
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The Obumbler (aptly termed) Administration is responsible for the largest classified document breach in US history. The damage at this point is incalculable but HUGE. 2012 and replacement can't come soon enough.

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 29, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Well, we're so "exceptional" that we're always right about everything, so I guess there's really no need to engage with other countries.

Posted by: Virginia7 | November 29, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse


1) I doubt many in Yemen were fooled into thinking that the U.S. wasn't behind counter-terrorism activities. Heck, few in Yemen would actually believe that the bombs were Yemen's, even if it was true.

2) We're supposed to be upset that government lies are being revealed?

3) The terrorism threat in Yemen is linked to the American bombs falling in Yemen (and on other Muslims elsewhere in the Middle East). While some Islamists might plot against us anyway, the vast majority are clearly motivated by images of their coreligionists and their property being blown up (directly or indirectly) by American bombs. This is what the vast majority of terrorists cite after attacks. Islamic terrorists might also not approve of our secular culture, the violence is surely what motivates the actual attacks most of the time.

Remember 9/11? A few thousand people that 99.999% of Americans had never met were killed in a tower, yet millions of Americans were furious and would have been just fine with the military bombing the Islamic countries back into the stone age. That sort of rage is also felt on the other side.

We'd be better off today if we had simply heeded Washington's advice to leave other countries to their own devices.

Posted by: justin84 | November 29, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

A silly column by Larison full of nonsensical assumptions without proof.

For instance, how do you expend political capital in a one-party government where you are the hand picked choice of the ultimate ruler? Also why bemoan the effects on containing Iran, a strategy that has shown no dividends in the first place? The Israelis killed another Iranian nuclear scientist yesterday, and along with stuxnext is a far more effective policy than endless consultations with Russia.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 29, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse


Sometimes you should read you own paper, in addition to all the other bloggers. For instance Larison's column says the following:

"The administration's ability to isolate Iran diplomatically and economically will be undermined as Russian cooperation melts away, but according to the perverse logic of U.S.-Iran relations this will make confrontation more rather than less likely"

Now contrast that with the piece on the wikileaks from your WAPO front page today:

"The cables also expose the sensitive diplomacy involved in winning sanctions against Iran; U.S. officials' attempts to remove highly enriched uranium from Pakistan; and new information on how North Korea is believed to have aided Tehran's weaponry program, giving it advanced missiles that could allow it to strike Moscow and major Western European cities."

So Larison's point that the START problem hurts efforts against Iran makes no sense because it is North Korea that has been pushing the Iranian nuclear buttons. Russia no longer has any influence in North Korea.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 29, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"Obumbler can't keep our confidential discussions with you private and Obumbler can't credibly commit to the treaties we agree on with you in public."

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 29, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

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