An Argument In Favor of Wikileaks

Published by marco on

The article Leak Soup by Morgan Meis (The Smart Set) discusses Ambassador Ischinger’s[1] response to Wikileaks actions, published in the New York Times, in which he wrote: “[t]his is more serious: It is about war and peace, and it can be about life or death.”.

“And that is where Ambassador Ischinger lost me for good. That is where I went over to the other side, where I became a Julian man. There is only so much bullshit that any man can ingest, and I’ve been topped off. Mr. Ischinger is in the same lineage as all the noble men and women who have been managing the competing interests of war and peace for the last few hundred years. They have armed nations, and then disarmed them. They’ve left regions to stew and boil in endless carnage in the name of a greater stability. They’ve arrayed armies of invasion in other instances when the powers that be deemed it appropriate. From Klemens von Metternich to Wolfgang Ischinger, we’ve been told that the secret doings of this management of peace and war is at the service of a greater order and well being. The Hobbesian nightmare of the state of nature, a war of all against all, is continually gestured to as the price of giving up on the obscure ways of the diplomatic art. We need them, these architects of peace and war.

“And yet we know, we have always known somewhere in our hearts, that this is the bullshit of the powerful. Necessary bullshit, perhaps. A bullshit to which we have no better alternative. But I won’t be told that I have to take my bullshit and like it. That I have to suffer the lies and manipulations of the great maestros of war and peace and smile and thank them for it.”

And I will go Mr. Meis one better.[2] I don’t want Ischinger and his ilk to be effective. We have seen what their efficacy brings us. It brings moldy crusts while delivering feasts to the masters. When we buy the myth that they act in all of our best interests, we are complicit in their pillage of us. We self-cauterize our cynicism and believe that the world is run for us when it so very clearly is not. If the U.S. is now hindered in making deals with the dictator of Yemen or Oman or wherever: GOOD. That what the U.S. has decided to call diplomacy is hindered in its efforts is a good thing. Viz the actions of the State Department vis à vis Iran and compare and contrast with the only slightly more overt actions of the State Department of the previous administration as it build momentum and support for its invasion of Iraq.

The article Is WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange a Hero? Glenn Greenwald Debates Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News (Democracy Now!) presents a straw man, courtesy of Steven Aftergood, who characterized the Wikileaks philosophy thusly:

“I think their theory of political action is extremely primitive. It’s basically throw a lot of stuff out there, and then good things will happen to good people and bad things will happen to bad people.”

That’s entirely wrong. Though that may be the long-term goal, they are not naive enough to believe in that as the short-term goal as well. Wikileaks is clearly trying to create a situation in which fewer good things happen to bad people. Which is pretty much all we can hope for in this advanced stage of civilizational disease in which we find ourselves. And I’m OK with that; it mirrors Meis’s sentiments above.

Read the documents that have been leaked and ask yourself whether they are putting lives in danger or whether they are just putting different lives in danger. When the machine works without oversight, it manages to arrange things to the liking of its masters in the U.S. and fewer Americans die (presumably). That, as a consequence of their actions, many, many, many more other citizens of our ever-smaller world die is not mentioned. When the diplomatic corps of America can work unsupervised and unhindered, it aids and abets such travesties as the Afghan and Iraq wars (ongoing, so of interest here). Is it not worth considering that their being hindered in their efforts to, as Meis put it, “trudge on ever forward into the next war, the one which they are surely planning even now, with fewer emails, and as secretly as they can,” is a good thing?

Let us allow that certain members of the U.S. foreign corps or military become endangered through these leaks. Do not forget that they are the arm of American power being imposed on foreign nations. Go ahead and argue that they are just doing their jobs, but their jobs involve deciding abstractly on policies that are detrimental to the health of populations that have done nothing to deserve it. If, for example, a U.S. soldier who pilots a drone in Pakistan becomes endangered through the leaks, is he more or less deserving of this danger than the families his drone has killed over the last year? Or are the missions he carries out justified because he’s fighting a war on terror, a war during which mistakes will be made because the enemy is so wily? Do we really believe this horseshit?

Latest polls show that 92% of the citizens of Afghanistan have no idea what the significance of 9–11 is. Hell, not only do we not have any idea why we’re blowing up brown people all over the world, but neither do they. I’m sure they’ll come up with their own reasons, ones that we won’t find too flattering. And we’ll be surprised that they hate us, just like we always are, because we’re deep-down-to-the-bone-stupid and, against all evidence, still thinks our masters are doing it for our best interests. We continue to believe, since we’re not starving in the streets (yet), that things are going well. But we’re just getting a warming effect from the bonfires of the rich—and that only because they haven’t noticed us huddling at the edge of the forest and getting some of their heat for free. When they do—and they will—we’ll get charged for that pittance as well…and we’ll thank them for the privilege of taking part in what we have been flogged into believing is the only possible form of capitalism.

But it’s all relative. Our masters have had their best year yet, as they sink their fangs deeper into the neck of the global economy and suck for all they’re worth. If they have to stop sucking so hard for a while in order to deal with Assange, more power to him and Wikileaks and to Anonymous. DDOS attacks on private corporations are not terrorism and none of these organizations are terrorists. They are just not the powers-that-be. That the complicit media is only too happy to designate them as enemies of the state just goes to show that you can’t trust the fourth estate at all anymore (or about “as far as you can spit a rat”, as Douglas Adams once pithily noted).

The only reason anyone has a problem with any of this is that, as Chomsky would put it, “the guns are pointed in the other direction.” If Assange were leaking stuff about China and the hackers were DDOSing the Chinese firewall, imagine how that would be reported in the States. Fox News would nominate Assange for a Nobel Prize.

It pretty much comes down to f&$k the man. Simple as that. The man is listening to your phone calls; the man is watching you browse the internet; the man is tracking your text messages; the man is looking at your bank account; the man ignores your constitutional rights when it’s convenient; the man will bury you in legal fees and red tape. The man has our backs to the wall and hasn’t noticed that more and more of us have nothing to lose.

Turnabout is fair play.

Because f*%k you, that’s why.

[1] A diplomat, chairman of the Munich Conference, former deputy foreign minister to Germany, and a participant in the negotiations around ending the war in Bosnia and establishing an independent Kosovo.
[2] Although I would not call myself a “Julian man” until the air clears over the charges. Though rape charges are dismissed all the time for very spurious and misogynistic reasons, there is every reason to believe that, in this case, the motivations for pursuing what appears to be a very shaky case—or at the very least, not one worthy of an international manhunt—are largely political. If Assange is convicted—and not railroaded in a kangaroo court—then he can go to hell. However, the points made in this essay continue to apply to Wikileaks the general idea of trying to level balance of information between government and its citizenry.