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How WikiLeaks Makes Confrontation With Iran More Likely

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks during a London news conference on the release of secret documents about the Iraq war on October 23.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks during a London news conference on the release of secret documents about the Iraq war on October 23.
It is no secret that Julian Assange, the man behind WikiLeaks, opposes the American-led war efforts in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He is not some dispassionate journalist bringing information to light for its own sake; he has an agenda, and makes no bones about it. "This material shines light on the everyday brutality and squalor of war," he said before releasing a stash of classified documents related to the Afghan conflict this summer. "The archive will change public opinion and it will change the opinion of people in positions of political and diplomatic influence."

WikiLeaks will indeed "change" opinions. But they should not alter them in the pacifistic way Assange desires.

Far from demonstrating that it is America and its allies which are responsible for most of the violence that has engulfed Iraq in the seven years since the ouster of Saddam Hussein, the latest WikiLeaks reveal, in the words of the "Washington Post," that "the vast majority of Iraqi civilian deaths were caused by other Iraqis, not by coalition forces." And many of those deaths were perpetrated by Iraqis who received training in neighboring Iran. "The New York Times" last week said that the documents reveal the "shadow war between the United States and Iraqi militias backed by Iran's Revolutionary Guards." According to a 2006 report, for instance, Azhar al-Dulaimi, a Shi'ite militia commander who had kidnapped officials from Iraq's Ministry of Higher Education, was trained by Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah, Iran's terrorist proxy in Lebanon. This is but one of the connections to Iran that the WikiLeaks reveal; the documents offer a trove of information spelling out in specific detail how various instruments of the Iranian regime funded, equipped, and trained Shi'ite militants to kill not only their fellow Iraqis, but coalition troops as well.

Critics of the war have long painted allegations of Iranian involvement in Iraq as exaggerated, the cynical attempts of Western hard-liners to gain support for tougher policies against Tehran. Reasonable people can of course differ on how to deal with the Iranian regime. But what is now beyond dispute is that it clearly sees itself as engaged in a war against the United States and those attempting to forge an independent and democratic Iraq.

According to the documents, Iran has served as a veritable training camp for terrorists who use Iranian territory as a base from which to conduct deadly operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The regime's Quds Force, the external branch of the Revolutionary Guards that equips terrorists throughout the Middle East and allegedly even in Latin America, has trained Shi'ite militants from Iraq in the use of explosives and sniper rifles. Crucially, as the "Times" points out, this training continued after President Barack Obama publicly reached out to Iranian officials and reiterated his intention to withdraw American troops by the end of next year: "The attacks continued during Mr. Obama's first year in office, with no indication in the reports that the new administration’s policies led the Quds Force to end its support for Iraqi militants," says the "Times." "The pending American troop withdrawals, the reports asserted, may even have encouraged some militant attacks."

The Afghan war logs that Assange leaked earlier this year told much the same story about Iran's destabilizing influence, a point I stressed at the time. Let's just say that the Islamic republic's involvement in that country has involved tactics more worrying than the Tammany Hall-esque handing of "bags of money" to President Hamid Karzai and his senior aides.

Asked about his motives in releasing classified information, Assange has said, "I enjoy crushing bastards." Presumably, he's referring to the international coalition -- the officials, soldiers, and humanitarian aid workers -- trying to bring some measure of stability to Iraq and Afghanistan, and not the theocrats and mass murderers who have visited such destruction and misery on those countries. Assange doesn't seem to have much fire in his belly for going after them. But the unwitting effects of his latest document dump, as with the last, have been to reveal the true nature of Al-Qaeda and the Iranian regime, and to open a window into what the region will look like should their efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq prove successful.