Let's start with what the U.S. embassy cables released by WikiLeaks this weekend are not.
They are not, as Hillary Clinton claimed, "an attack on America's foreign policy interests" that have endangered "innocent people." And they are not, as Robert Gibbs put it, a "reckless and dangerous action" that puts at risk "the cause of human rights."
And they do not amount to what the Italian foreign minister, in one of the sorrier moments in the history of hyperbole (or is it hysteria?), deemed the "September 11 of world diplomacy."
They are also not "top secret" since between 2 and 3 million government employees are cleared to see this level of "secret" document, and some 500,000 people have access to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRnet) where the cables were stored. Maybe they should think about changing the name to the Not-All-That Secret Internet Protocol Network (NATSIPRnet).
What's more, the revelations are not particularly revelatory. As Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said: "Much of what we have seen thus far confirms more than it informs."
But here is what makes the leaked cables so important: they provide another opportunity to turn the spotlight on the war in Afghanistan, which, despite the fact that it's costing us $2.8 billion a week keeps getting pushed into the shadows -- even in this deficit-obsessed time. The cables are a powerful reminder of what this unwinnable war is costing us in terms of lives, in terms of money, and in terms of our long-term national security.