Jon wondered why I hadn’t commented on the new Wikileaks “cablegate” affair. A fair question, especially given the last Wikileaks thing turned this blog into a genuine internet sensation (for about 3 seconds) (and not due to any editorial effort on my part, I literally just cut and pasted from their twitter feed, go figure).
Answer is: I don’t know what to make of it. This is clearly a more complex action than previous Wikileaks releases. My instinctive feeling is that this is a good thing as a one-off targeted at a country that rationalises itself as a global policeman, but in general this is a dangerous precedent. Diplomacy needs to function out of public view, and losing that assurance of discretion is certain to have a limiting effect on positive as well as negative efforts.
But I find it hard to feel bad about this if it puts the UK govt’s handling of Iraq in the pooh. My fury over that whole affair remains undimmed, seven years on.
So ultimately – I don’t know what to say. I’ll wait to see how things shake out. Assange is clearly a tosser, and yes he may be a sex criminal too but that doesn’t mean he’s not doing good work.
Jon’s own post on the matter is well worth a read – a good summary I think.
Making Light do some good coverage of the issues, particularly the response of the US media.
Glenn Greenwald has been getting a lot of attention for this firebreathing attack on the US media coverage of Wikileaks and what it says about the state of the fourth estate in the USA.
But the most interesting thing I’ve read yet is this article that looks at Assange/Wikileaks’ motives. Short version: Assange’s stated view is that authoritarianism must inevitably rely on a conspiratorial approach. The contradictions between authoritarianism and conspiracy provide a vulnerability that can be exploited by wikileaks. So the point of the cablegate affair is not the cables themselves, but the response they force in the US government.
All these articles give me some interesting starting points but I don’t feel I’m anywhere near understanding the depth of what this affair means. Too complex, too soon, too something. I dunno. Opinions & interpretations welcome.