- The Washington Times - Monday, November 29, 2010

State Department cables reveal that, despite its public silence, the U.S. government is aggressively working behind the scenes to make the world safer.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who released the first 241 of more than 250,000 cables, made this statement Sunday: “The cables show the extent of U.S. spying on its allies and the U.N.; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in ‘client states’; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for U.S. corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.”

However, another argument is the diplomatic dispatches show the United States has used its military and economic power to try to make the world better.

One instance is Pakistan, whose tribal areas are home to al Qaeda and other international terror groups and whose military facilities are festooned with at least 80 nuclear warheads.

Publicly, Washington has avoided offending Pakistani leaders by assuring the world the arsenal is safe from Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda.

“I remain comfortable that the nuclear weapons in Pakistan are secure, that the Pakistani leadership and in particular the military is very focused on this,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said in May 2009.

Yet, behind the scenes Washington frets.

Cables from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad reveal that the U.S. has put great pressure on Pakistan to move highly enriched uranium from a research reactor for fear it will fall into the hands of terrorists, reported the New York Times, which has obtained all 250,000-plus dispatches, not just the 241 published by the WikiLeaks website on Sunday.

“In May 2009, Ambassador Anne W. Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, ‘if the local media got word of the fuel removal, they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,’ ” the New York Times reported.

Other cables show the lengths to which Washington goes to prevent the arming of Lebanese Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated and Iran-financed terror army committed to the destruction of Israel.

The U.S. has been pressing Syria to stop arming Hezbollah, which has assembled a huge stockpile since its 2006 war with Israel.

At the same time Syrian President Bashar Assad promised the State Department he would not send new weapons to Hezbollah, intelligence reports showed he was lying and sending the most advanced arms yet.

Other cables show that, while Washington talks diplomatically in public about Russia’s nondemocratic drift, in private it warned European countries about former president, and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Assistant Defense Secretary Alexander Vershbow wrote a cable describing a February 2010 meeting between Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and his French counterpart. Mr. Gates attempted unsuccessfully to persuade Herve Morin to stop a pending arms sale to Russia.

“SecDef observed that Russian democracy has disappeared and the government was an oligarchy run by the security services,” Mr. Vershbow wrote. “President [Dmitri] Medvedev has a more pragmatic vision for Russia than PM Putin, but there has been little real change.”

The documents also show there are several countries in the Middle East that privately support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that want the U.S. to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons quest, like the cable about Bahrain’s King Hamad’s admiration for the U.S. role in the conflict. Bahrain hosts a regional U.S. naval headquarters.

“He stated that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan provided a golden opportunity for the Afghan people to build their country’s security forces as well as their education, medical, science and trade programs and ministries,” the cable said.

“The King added that U.S. efforts should be touted more in the media. He quoted President Eisenhower, saying the ‘U.S. is soldiering for peace and not waging war’ and he understood that the U.S. was not seeking to rule over Afghanistan or Iraq. He is convinced that the U.S. is in both places to help the Afghan and Iraqi people and he was appreciative of our armed forces personnel performing their duties in places so far from home.’ “