I would like to begin by thanking my readers for supporting me. In recent weeks I’ve received a lot of positive comments about my blog. As part of my mission to be responsive to my readers, I have been asked to write about my thoughts about Wikileaks, and Private Bradley Manning.
I’m not sure I see the value of Wikileaks. I feel that Wikileaks has almost instantly transcended into the realm of symbolism. Wikileaks is now famous (or infamous) for its information dumps. Wikileaks uncovers masses of classified documents and releases them without commentary. They censor information at a bare minimum, only where they believe someone would directly end up in harm’s way.
Before I lay out my thoughts on this organization I’d like to say that Julien Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, problems with the law bare no impact on how I view them. Assange has been accused of sexual harassment and assault. I’ll leave that for the courts to settle.
Assange’s worldview, in my opinion, could be said to be Anarcho-Information. There are some people that are absolutists about the freedom of speech, that people should have the absolute ability to say whatever they want, no matter what. Nothing is off the table. Wikileaks’ philosophy is that nothing is secret. Perhaps another way to say it is that nothing is sacred. That all information should be public is an idea that I fundamentally cannot understand, nor empathize with. The philosophy of Wikileaks seems to be that they have the right to this information. I do not find this to be the case.
The problem is as follows, in my mind: the only people who “deserve” to know about American foreign activity is American policymakers. The trouble there? In a democracy, all American citizens have a voice in foreign policy. The conduct of foreign relations and diplomacy requires the ability to play your cards close to your chest. If your opponents, or rivals, know your moves, then you are severely weakened.
I also am concerned with Wikileaks’ target – the United States. Are there really any other nations we would rather see as the world’s key superpower? Russia? China? India? I frankly would love to see China’s dirty laundry aired. Having the U.S. dominant has a lot of benefits. They are not the devil, even if they can be misguided. As a Canadian, I don’t feel I have the right to know what the Americans are doing. Simultaneously, I feel like our government should be permitted to do a certain amount of leeway to design policy. I hope, in our advanced democracy, that our elected leaders hold our government accountable, and the media responsibly investigate.
Now to Bradley Manning, the private who leaked the information to Wikileaks. It is well within the rights of the Army to try him, especially because he is a member of the military. He can be held to the military standard of justice, and he has betrayed his oath, and revealed state secrets. Given how openly Manning violated his duty, I could reasonably expect him to face charges of treason, or espionage. If Manning was a private citizen I would be less comfortable with that kind of charge, but he isn’t, so I don’t have to concern myself with the ethics of that.
The Bush era (2001-2009) has left a bad taste in many people’s mouths, but I think it is important to keep things in perspective. America isn’t perfect, but a superpower cannot be. What right do we have to demand that the United States be perfect? What are human rights? In a world where many countries spit on our ideals, how can we uphold them? Where do we come off expecting America to protect and police the world, and then complain about their methods?