Sunday, November 28, 2010

Weighing in on the newest Wikileaks release

Journalists around the world are clamoring to get their hands on today's Wikileaks release, that of a multitude of cables and documents sent from within the U.S. diplomacy infrastructure, et al. A lot is going to be written in the coming days, as much as has already been written by those newspapers that had advanced copies of the released documents. Personally, I am split between feeling that the U.S. government, our government, deserves this, and the feeling of incredible embarrassment - embarrassment over being an American, born to a country whose institutions are so vast and wide that the government cannot protect its own documents, both from within and from without. I am also embarrassed for what these documents say about the country's allies. While much of it can be pegged as high-level gossip, it is a shame that such 'gossip' would ever see the light of day. How do foreign governments view the U.S. now? We should all be embarrassed.

On the other side of the coin, as one journalist from the Guardian puts it, it's not the media's job to protect the powerful from embarrassment. In fact, it's the other way around, it's the media's job to draw attention to government to avoid government overstepping its bounds. Had this occurred in the run-up to the Iraq war, perhaps there wouldn't be an Iraq war. Which brings me to the next point which is perhaps the most important: Much of this, if not all, is the cascading affect from the Bush administration, in my view.

Had the Bush administration taken great care in its response to the Sept 11th attacks rather than using the attacks as justification for war in Iraq, there wouldn't be a need for a Wikileaks. The controversies over Iraq and Afghanistan continue to haunt the U.S. despite Obama's best efforts to reset the discourse. Even he is now on the wrong side of history given his dedication to the mission in Afghanistan at the great expense of badly needed nation-building at home. Perhaps it is entirely appropriate that a government that lied its country - and several of its allies - into war would suffer this kind of humiliation. Let it be a lesson - the same way the September 11th attacks were a lesson - that no matter how mighty your military is, no matter how sound your economy is, no matter how much power you believe you have, hubris, and the misadventures it fosters, rarely wins in the end.

No comments:

Post a Comment