Posted by Sappho on October 16th, 2012 filed in Election 2012
I’ve been reading debates after the fact in transcript form (and, during the primaries, viewing select excerpts on Youtube, mainly from Ron Paul). Partly I do this because transcripts have always been my preferred way of processing this kind of thing; I feel better able, when I’m processing a debate in transcript form, to see which candidate looks better informed, who seems to have his or her facts right, and what topics bring each candidate most alive. Anyway, this is how it happened that I finally got around yesterday to reading the VP debate that everyone else watched last Thursday.
It was no surprise that, on Iran, Biden came across as knowledgeable, while Ryan came off as relaying talking points without all that much real knowledge on the subject. After all, Biden had a long background in foreign relations, while foreign relations is hardly Ryan’s strength. But my thoughts, as I read the exchange, were of Wikileaks, those cables that our government didn’t want to get out, and that showed our diplomats’ candid assessments, not polished for anyone’s political benefit.
When Wikileaks came out, I read all five of the papers that published them: The New York Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, and El Pais. I read the English and German with ease, and I struggled through the French and Spanish. I read their articles and their cable excerpts. Then I read what other papers had to say, Turkish, Greek, and African papers, to see what each country’s media said about the cables that concerned that country. And I went to the Wikileaks site itself and read cables, moving from one mirror site to another as one site went down and another site kept the cables available. (I quit reading and blogging the Wikileaks site directly only when the reports came out about the various “don’t read Wikileaks” memos being put out by various government contractors. Though I think I have every right to read what’s already been made public to the whole world, as a non-anonymous blogger, I don’t want to cause my employer any grief by what I do on my personal computer in my off hours.)
One of the major themes of the cables that Wikileaks published, one that came up in one country after another, was a steady, determined effort by US diplomats to isolate Iran and arrange sanctions against it. Biden’s right; Ryan’s wrong. Sanctions against Iran aren’t something that the Obama administration dragged its feet on; they’re something the Obama administration pursued with vigor, trying to bring every country on board that it could to make the sanctions as comprehensive as possible.
Whether you like Obama’s Iran policy or not, he’s pretty much already doing everything Romney and Ryan say they want him to be doing.