I liked Cohen's column in the NY Times today and think it's worth reading for its focus on front line officers and the effects on them. He's right, the cables so far show good US diplomacy. He's also right that the damage done will be broad but shallow and his comparison of the effect this will have on diplomacy to that a similar action would have on reporters is probably spot on. The damage done by these leaks won't be great but it will fall across pretty much all areas of US diplomatic activity. We'll be operating just a little bit more in the dark since we won't be able to get confirmation about the views being held by foreign governments but it's unlikely that anything big will come of this, providing some sort of major event doesn't happen where we need these contacts to be strong before our contacts are rebuilt.
What I really don't understand is that after being able to look through these cables that anyone would have thought that the advantages provided by releasing them were worth the potential damage. It will give us a nearer term look at how our foreign policy operates which will be interesting for academics but all of these would have likely been released to the public record eventually anyway (if you've found a taste for reading primary diplomatic documents there is a wealth of them for you to enjoy here: http://history.state.gov/).