I have a question. Several people are suggesting that the most interesting/damaging part of the WikiLeaks embassy cable dump is the revelation that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has repeatedly asked the United States to bomb Iran. Dave Schuler comments:
It isn’t just King Abdullah—the rulers of Jordan, Bahrain, and Abu Dhabi have apparently all made similar requests and leaders in Egypt have stopped just short of that.
IMO were Israel or the United States to eliminate Iran’s nuclear development capability by force Iran’s neighbors would make some outraged noises while being secretly relieved. These leaks have removed the possibility of cloaking their hostility with such a figleaf from the Sunni regimes of the Middle East.
Here's my question: is this really news? I thought it was common knowledge that most of the Gulf states felt this way. It's obviously true that "common knowledge" isn't the same thing as a bunch of diplomatic cables that confirms this stuff to the world, but still. Everyone seems to have known this already, presumably including the Iranian leadership.
Am I off base here? It seems like I've heard this so many times that it didn't even register as something newsworthy to me. But maybe I'm missing something here.
POSTSCRIPT: Perhaps I'm just being too America-centric. Issandr El Amrani at The Arabist acknowledges that many of the cables "just confirm certain widely held theories," but nonetheless thinks the diplomatic damage will be huge:
There is so much information flowing around about US policy — and often, a good deal of transparency — that a smart observer with good contacts can get a good idea of what's happening. Not so in the Arab world, and the contents of the conversations Arab leader are having with their patron state are not out in the Arab public domain or easily guessable, as anyone who reads the meaningless press statements of government press agencies will tell you. Cablegate is in important record from the Arab perspective, perhaps more than from the US one.
So: more important to the Arab world than to us. Maybe so. In fact, probably so.