Yes, these are our allies — people whose values we do not and never will share. “O.K.,” our Saudi, Gulf, Afghan and Pakistani allies tell us, “we may not be perfect, but the guys who would replace us would be much worse. The Taliban and Al Qaeda are one-faced. They say what they mean in public and private: They hate America.”
That’s true, but if we are stuck supporting bad regimes because only worse would follow, why can’t we do anything to make them reform? That brings us to the sobering message in so many of these cables: America lacks leverage. America lacks leverage in the Middle East because we are addicted to oil. We are the addicts and they are the pushers, and addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.