From the left, right, and center, we finally have consensus on Afghanistan — or at least the Wikileaks about Afghanistan. In short — as Max ably pointed out yesterday — so what? As the Washington Post editors note:
Though it may represent one of the most voluminous leaks of classified military information in U.S. history, the release by Wikileaks of 92,000 reports on the war in Afghanistan hardly merits the hype offered by the Web site’s founder. …
The Obama administration harshly condemned the release of documents, saying they “could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security.” But that, too, seemed an exaggeration. Both Wikileaks and the news organizations said they had withheld documents and other information that might endanger individuals. On the whole, the reports appear likely to add modestly to public understanding of the war. But they are not likely to change many minds.
Bret Stephens was similarly bored by the Wikileaks “revelations”:
Innocent civilians become the tragic casualties of war. Insurgents plant thousands of IEDs. Special-ops teams hunt down insurgents. The Taliban may have a few Stinger missiles. Pakistan plays a double game with the Taliban. The U.S. government can’t keep its secrets. The New York Times has about as much regard for those secrets as a British tabloid has for a starlet’s privacy. The Obama administration blames everything on Bush. Is any of this news? Not exactly.
This is no doubt a downer to the antiwar left, which had hoped this would shock the administration, lawmakers, and the public, accelerating the demand for a quick retreat. But Americans know the war is tough, and are waiting — as they did on Iraq — for the administration to take charge and turn things around. There remains a curious void at the center of the Afghanistan operation — no commanding president to explain, cajole, and inspire. That void is filled with exaggerated news stories, gaffes, and leaks.
It would be helpful if the president — not Robert Gibbs, not Gen. David Petraeus, and not the media feeding frenzy — would set the tone of the debate and explain the stakes. Obama’s diminishing popularity and the impending backlash from an irate public will not make his task easier. Before he and the country are entirely absorbed by the November election, it might be a good idea for Obama to get out in front of the news, and not simply scramble to react to events.