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Foreign Policy: 10 Issues Obama Won't Talk About

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves a press conference at the Frontline club in London.
Carl De Souza
AFP/Getty Images
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves a press conference at the Frontline club in London.

WikiLeaks: Much ink has been spilled debating what WikiLeaks means for the Obama administration's diplomacy efforts worldwide. Many of the cables are embarrassing; others reveal behind-the-scenes dealings with difficult allies such as Yemen and Pakistan that American diplomats surely wish had been kept quiet. There's certainly a reason that the U.S. government called allies to warn of forthcoming WikiLeaks launches and pre-empt the damage.

Still, the Obama administration has said — at least in public — that WikiLeaks has done no serious harm to its ability to conduct foreign affairs. Defense Secretary Robert Gates summed it up this way: "Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest."

That hasn't stopped the administration from moving forward with attempts to build a case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, however, as well as Bradley Manning, the Army private who is accused of downloading and leaking the diplomatic cables, Iraq files, and Afghanistan files. (Manning is now in detention in the United States; Assange is under house arrest in Britain while he awaits an extradition hearing to face sexual misconduct charges in Sweden.) Yet regardless of the outcome of the cases pending against Assange and Manning, what seems certain is that the WikiLeaks idea — posting government secrets publicly online — will be with us for quite some time. There's already a world of copycats. So perhaps it's not the past revealed in the diplomatic cables Obama should talk about, but the future of U.S. relations in a WikiLeaking world.

To read the other nine global issues, visit Foreign Policy.

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Elizabeth Dickinson