I continue to believe that at least in the short term, harm has been done to the American foreign policy process thanks to the WikiLeaks disclosures. As I have argued before, our own diplomats are going to be less willing to put thoughts on paper, and foreign governments and foreign intelligence sources are going to be less willing to talk to us, all for fear that there may be future unauthorized leaks of information. As a consequence, American foreign policy interests will suffer.
That having been written, I have also indicated that some perspective is called for. And now, my observations–tempered though they are by the concerns I list in the paragraph above–have some backup. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who along with William Burns is perhaps my favorite person in government today, is at least substantially right to point out that a whole host of other factors will mitigate the damage done by the WikiLeaks disclosures. And in fact, the word “substantially” may not be enough to describe how right Gates is. Let’s hope it isn’t, at any rate.