The big Amer­i­can leak

It seems from these ca­bles that the U.S. of­ten has to pay lead­ers in Pak­istan and Afghanistan to be two-faced - oth­er­wise they would just be one-faced and against the U.S. in both pub­lic and pri­vate.

The Pak Banker - - Editorial5 - Thomas L. Fried­man

Let's start, though, with what's in the ca­bles. I think I've fig­ured it out: Saudi Ara­bia and its Arab neigh­bors want the U.S. to de­cap­i­tate the Ira­nian regime and de­stroy its nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties so they can cel­e­brate in pri­vate this tri­umph over the hated Per­sians, while pub­licly join­ing with their peo­ple in the streets in burn­ing Un­cle Sam in ef­figy, af­ter we carry out such an at­tack on Iran - which will make the Arab peo­ple fu­ri­ous at us. The rea­son the Arab peo­ple will be fu­ri­ous at us, even though many of them don't like the Per­sians ei­ther, is be­cause they dis­like their own un­elected lead­ers even more and protest­ing against the Amer­i­cans, who help to keep their lead­ers in power, is a way of stick­ing it to both of us.

While the Saudis are urg­ing us to take out Iran's nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity, we learn from the ca­bles that pri­vate Saudi donors to­day still con­sti­tute the most sig­nif­i­cant source of fund­ing to Sunni ter­ror­ist groups world­wide - not to men­tion the fun­da­men­tal­ist mosques, char­i­ties and schools that spawn the Tal­iban in Pak­istan and Afghanistan. So ba­si­cally our oil pay­ments are cy­cled through Saudi Ara­bia and end up fund­ing the very mil­i­tants whom our sol­diers are fight­ing. But don't think we don't have al­lies. ... The ca­bles tell us about Ahmed Zia Mas­soud, an Afghan vice pres­i­dent from 2004 to 2009, who now owns a pala­tial home in Dubai, where, ac­cord­ing to one cable, he was caught by cus­toms of­fi­cials car­ry­ing $52 mil­lion in un­ex­plained cash. It seems from these ca­bles that the U.S. of­ten has to pay lead­ers in Pak­istan and Afghanistan to be two-faced - oth­er­wise they would just be one-faced and against the U.S. in both pub­lic and pri­vate.

Yes, these are our al­lies - peo­ple whose val­ues we do not and never will share. "O.K.," our Saudi, Gulf, Afghan and Pak­istani al­lies tell us, "we may not be per­fect, but the guys who would re­place us would be much worse. The Tal­iban and Al Qaeda are one-faced. They say what they mean in pub­lic and pri­vate: They hate Amer­ica."

That's true, but if we are stuck sup­port­ing bad regimes be­cause only worse would fol­low, why can't we do any­thing to make them re­form? That brings us to the sober­ing mes­sage in so many of these ca­bles: Amer­ica lacks lever­age. Amer­ica lacks lever­age in the Mid­dle East be­cause we are ad­dicted to oil. We are the ad­dicts and they are the push­ers, and ad­dicts never tell the truth to their push­ers. When we im­port $28 bil­lion a month in oil, we can't say to the Saudis: "We know the guys who would come af­ter you would be much worse, but why do we have to choose be­tween your mis­rule and cor­rup­tion and their bru­tal­ity and in­tol­er­ance?" We're just stuck sup­port­ing a regime that, sure, fights Al Qaeda at home, but uses our money to fund a re­li­gious ide­ol­ogy, schools, mosques and books that en­sure that Al Qaeda will al­ways have a rich pool of re­cruits in Saudi Ara­bia and abroad. We also lack lever­age with the Chi­nese on North Korea, or with re­gard to the value of China's cur­rency, be­cause we're ad­dicted to their credit. Geopol­i­tics is all about lever­age. We can­not make our­selves safer abroad un­less we change our be­hav­ior at home. But our pol­i­tics never con­nects the two. Think how dif­fer­ent our con­ver­sa­tions with Saudi Ara­bia would be if we were in the process of con­vert­ing to elec­tric cars pow­ered by nu­clear, wind, do­mes­tic nat­u­ral gas and so­lar power? We could tell them that if we de­tect one more dol­lar of Saudi money go­ing to the Tal­iban then they can pro­tect them­selves from Iran.

Think how dif­fer­ent our con­ver­sa­tions with China would be if we had had a dif­fer­ent sav­ings rate the past 30 years and China was not hold­ing $900 bil­lion in U.S. Trea­sury se­cu­ri­ties - but was still de­pen­dent on the U.S. econ­omy and technology.

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