Monday, December 13, 2010

Wikileaks: more bad than good?

Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange have evoked all manner of reactions. The American government which clearly has been at the receiving end of these revelations has clearly been the most vocal critic and with the help from its friends in Europe has done the most to shut Wikileaks down.

Wikileaks has no doubt received support from a lot of people who have always bristled at the seemingly endless hypocrisy with which the worlds only superpower runs its affairs.

Wikileaks has played its part in bringing this hypocrisy out.
As long as wikileaks released documents pertaining to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I think they did more good than bad. Why? The American public had been subject to all manner of obfuscation as to why they needed to go to war with Iraq (all of which have since been debunked) , how the war was going etc.

The ordinary American who either enlisted because they thought they were defending their country or the American tax payer who shouldered the burden of paying for 2 very expensive wars in foriegn lands deserved to know the truth.

The leaking of diplomatic cables however was mostly pointless. What did we learn?
That nations did not always hold each other in the regard that they displayed in a public fora?
But did'nt we already know that?
What the wikileaks of diplomatic cables seem to imply was, that diplomacy was better conducted in the open.. But is this really ever an option?

In the hours leading up to the gulf wars i assume there were hectic diplomatic parlays between the soon to be combatants .. Does anyone believe these could have been broadcast live on CNN?

If the answer to the above is no.. then why leak diplomatic cables?
Also it should be pointed out that all leaked cables are American which implies clear targeting of the American state. All this asserts to me is a hatred for the American state, not a noble desire see the truth prevail.

Having said this I think its despicable in the manner in which Assange has been accused of rape ..
But I suppose its a little more civilized than the manner in which most countries that are not america would have dealt with this.

1 comment:

Noam said...

Hatred for the American state? Couldn't it be a real belief in transparency? When the New York Times published information from the cables does that show the Times hates America? There's a certain journalistic mantra that says, people are better off knowing the truth and deciding for themselves than for some cabal to decide what people "should" know, and while that mantra does know limits, Assange is just a person who draws the line further than others.

In particular, he has exposed leaks from many countries before this US leak, and no one made a big fuss. Does he hate all those countries?

What the cables achieve is a fairer understanding of what governments are thinking. That knowledge is interesting and valuable in an of itself. Is that value worth the harm done to America? I tend to think not, but then again, I think America is generally a force for good, so that may reflect my own biases. If someone had released China's secret diplomatic cables, would I also be upset? Not at all.

Openness is one of the great advantages of democracies, as the US likes to lecture China and Russia about.