THE NAIVE BELIEF THAT IT'S NO LONGER GROUNDHOG DAY
First of all, thank you again, Zandar, for excellent posts while I was gone.
And now, well, we have the sort of story that's going to monopolize the left blogosphere for days, and I can't stand it, because the story isn't going to make any significant difference in how the U.S. government conducts business. Spencer Ackerman:
...WikiLeaks just published a trove of over 90,000 mostly-classified U.S. military documents that details a strengthening Afghan insurgency with deep ties to Pakistani intelligence.
... This massive storehouse ... has the potential to be strategically significant, raising questions about how and why America and her allies are conducting the war. Not only does it recount 144 incidents in which coalition forces killed civilians over six years. But it shows just how deeply elements within the U.S.' supposed ally, Pakistan, have nurtured the Afghan insurgency. In its granular, behind-the-scene details about the war, this has the potential to be Afghanistan's answer to the Pentagon Papers....
Now, obviously, it's not news that the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligences has ties to the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami....
Stop right there, Spencer. Of course it's not news. As you go on to say, this is something that just what everyone who's ever paid any attention already knows, except that now we have more detail. The same goes for information on the killing of civilians. How the hell is this going to change anything?
As long as the Republican Party terrifies the Obama administration, and as long as the Republican Party continues to believe that macho posturing is good for the GOP, then we can expect Obama to act as if he has two choices: pursue this war as he's been doing or dig in even more. Maybe he'll be attacked on certain specifics by Republicans, but not in any way that's compatible with de-escalation. It's just an article of faith in our politics that right-wing voters, and centrists as well, will assume any politician who's skeptical about both wars is a dirty hippie who wants America to be destroyed. Hell, even Rand Paul doesn't have the guts to oppose the war openly, despite hints that he shares his fathers' views on foreign entanglements.
I don't care how many visions of 1970s glory the media is having right now -- that's not the moment we're living in. This document cache is not the new Pentagon Papers, for the simple reason that it emerged at a moment when old-school wingnuttery (with a few new bells and whistles) has come roaring back to dominate our politics. There needs to be a strong anti-war movement to make this document cache politically meaningful, and there isn't one; there needs to be even a modicum of anxiety on the part of Republicans about the political usefulness of old-fashioned right-wing bombast, and there isn't any such thing. So this matters only to historians.
AND: Glenn Greenwald says:
This leak is not unlike the Washington Post series from the last week: the broad strokes were already well-known, but the sheer magnitude of the disclosures may force more public attention on these matters than had occurred previously.
And what impact has that much-touted series had on public opinion, or the way things are done in Washington? Any? Not as far as I can tell.