Can WikiLeaks End the War?

Jul 28, 10 | 7:43 AM   byMichael Wolff
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WikiLeaks and the three publications it chose to publish the Afghanistan reports—the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel—are taking the position that they’ve revealed the smoking gun that must necessarily transform the course of the war.

The White House and the news outlets not privy to the documents, still not quite sure what’s hit them, are scoffing—or fumfering.

The Washington Post—its hurt status showing—went into contortions to minimize the effect of the report. Even its headline—“WikiLeaks documents cause little concern over public perception of war”—was willfully pretzel-like. So…the documents don’t make people concerned over people being concerned about the war?

“Lawmakers said that the trove of documents may harden opposition but is unlikely to suddenly alter impressions of a war that the administration had previously acknowledged is a tough slog amid declining public support.”

Or…in other words: Everybody is sick and tired of this war and believes it’s hopeless anyway, so what more could these documents possibly say to make people feel any more negative than they already feel?

And that’s a point. Of course, the other point is that the White House is still fighting the war with ever-more resources and determination. “The posting of the documents Sunday night by the group could complicate House approval of $37 billion in emergency war funding for Afghanistan and Iraq that has cleared the Senate,” opined the Post (avoiding mentioning the Times’ contribution to the publication of the reports), anticipating that the funding would pass yesterday, which it did, but nevertheless hedging its bets if it didn’t.

Actually, in the Post’s suggestion, the leak may have made the funding easier to pass because the White House is putting a positive spin on the release of the documents. According to the White House, the documents show that the Bush administration did everything wrong and the Obama White House is just trying its damnedest to rectify those mistakes. “This administration spent a large part of 2007 and 2008 campaigning to be this administration and saying that the way that the war had been prosecuted, the resources that hadn't been devoted to it, threatened our national security,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. "This administration spent a large part of 2007 and 2008 campaigning to be this administration…” Indeed.

This isn’t hard to untangle: The documents do say what everyone has been saying, but they say it more vividly, granularly, and with greater authority than ever before. Everybody’s known it: The emperor’s naked. It's just that nobody knows what happens when it’s said this clearly, this unavoidably, and with such detail and particularity.

Is it possible now to just go on fighting this damnable and unwinnable war? Perhaps not.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.
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