Anyone who has done any kind of archival research will know immediately the use of the WikiLeaks cables, and also their limits. Now that the superficial and the obvious are out of the way, the truly interesting material is coming to light; specifics of diplomacy and statecraft in an era where those arts are in decline.
2. For instance, I have an interest in West Africa. Cables that the press outlets have presented in the last few days have given me new insight into efforts to stop the spread of Salafist groups in the Sahara; the influence game of oil majors in Nigeria; how mercenary-piloted Ivorian aircraft bombed the French base in Bouaké, and with what consequences; and how Moussa Dadis Camara was sidelined, clearing the way for elections in Guinea. This level of material is where the substantive value of this information concentrates.
3. Almost nothing that has been said in American political and media circles about WikiLeaks in the last ten days merits dignifying with a comment. Most of it has been factually wrong. Glenn Greenwald, a voice in the wilderness, has been keeping track.
4. Julian Assange is obviously a loose cannon and a narcissist. That should make it all the less surprising to learn that his sexual ethics were challenged. There is a particular form of privilege — white and male privilege — that at once underlies sexual and other forms of behavioral license and gives an agitator the needed room to agitate. The next step is to find ways to keep pushing the envelope against entrenched authority while at the same time treating one another with dignity.