The Other I

December 8, 2010

Leaky Wickets

Filed under: Political thoughts — theotheri @ 8:54 pm
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I have been trying to evaluate the documents published by Wikileaks in these last few weeks, and decide what I think about it.

First of all, the United States must take responsibility for the fact that what they considered classified material should have been so poorly protected.  Instead, I fear officials have covered up their own incompetence by making loud noises about hackers and trying to extradite some of the more vulnerable of them to the United States to face trial and prison.

Secondly, does the release of 250,000 documents increase real transparency and make governments more responsible to the people they are meant to serve?   A lot of the material published so far ranges from the trivial to the embarrassing.  It is no big deal.  But some of it looks as if it could seriously endanger a lot of innocent people.  Listing all of the factories, hospitals, and other sites around the world that the United States considers essential to its security seems to me to be irresponsible.  I would be in terror if I were the thinly disguised Iranian businessman cooperating with the US in Iran.

I also fear that whatever the content, the simple release of some of this material will damage the United States’ capacity to carry on an effective diplomatic mission.  There is no doubt in my mind that whether we are talking about governments, family and friends, or work unions, negotiations cannot be carried out in full view while the public makes evaluative comments about every suggestion along the way.

So I think that to the extent that governments even fear that these kind of leaks may occur, diplomacy is damaged.  And the possibilities of war increase.

But something else is beginning to bother me about the content of these leaks.  I find myself asking if this is it?  Do these quarter of a million leaks represent the real concerns of diplomats around the world?  Are the main efforts to close Guantanamo reflected in offering  a small island state millions of dollars to take several inmates off our hands?  or suggesting to Belgium that accepting some of the prisoners would be a way for that country to “obtain prominence in Europe”?

And why is there not a whole steam of correspondence on global finance and trade?  Let us not be naive.  America’s position in the world has depended hugely on our significant economic power and leadership.  Now that is slipping away to the East.  Shouldn’t we be thinking about that?  Shouldn’t we be working a little harder to develop a few more effective strategies for dealing with the economic development of countries like India and China beside arguing that China should devalue the yuan against the US dollar?

I’m reaching the point where I think I might almost be happier if the leaks were indeed a little more significant.

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2 Comments »

  1. This Julian Assange is supposed to have read 250,000 documents???? He and who else? In what window of time? And how did he obtain them? There are probably very good answers and I have not kept up with the latest Wikileaks scandal so I don’t know, but this all boggles my mind. It all sounds like a full-time job for a dozens (hundreds?) of investigators and so far his is the only name attached to Wikileaks. Does someone know more about this?

    Like

    Comment by budavar — December 8, 2010 @ 10:52 pm | Reply

    • I can’t believe this hasn’t been front page news for weeks. It certainly has here in Britain. Apparently the leaks were gathered by a 23-year-old in the US military who was cleared for accessing classified documents. He was stationed in Iraq and apparently took CDs into work and simply copied the correspondence pretending to everybody else in the office that he was listening to music. He’s under arrest and I believe in custody.

      Julian Assange meanwhile is also in prison here in England awaiting a decision about whether he should extradicted to Switzerland on a rape charge. There is much debate in the media about whether it is a set up or not. He’s a 39-year-old Australian. He claims that the leaks will continue whether or not he is in prison, so surely he has many helpful associates. Meanwhile, hackers have begun to attack the websites of businesses which have closed Assange’s bank account, or refused to continue to host Wikileaks, etc. The feeings are intense on both sides of the question about whether Assange is a hero of the right of common people to know what their governments are doing or guilty of treason for betraying same.

      As I suggested in my post, my own sense is that the picture is not black and white. I wonder if Assange had any idea, though, of the personal danger he was putting himself in by making some of the enemies he has.

      What do you think?

      Like

      Comment by theotheri — December 9, 2010 @ 4:24 pm | Reply


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