The last pre-Xmas Wikileaks post…

Paul Raven @ 23-12-2010

… well, the last one from me, anyway. As already praised (and disparaged) in the comments to yesterday’s post, Bruce Sterling’s essay on Assange, Wikileaks and all that is well worth a read. Regular readers won’t be surprised to hear I’m somewhat in awe of it (fanboy is as fanboy does), but as always, go read and make up your own mind. What marks it out as unique, I think, is the fact that it’s devoid of both righteous oppositional ire and revolutionary supportive fervour; instead, it’s full of foreboding, a “we could’ve seen it coming, but we still couldn’t have seen what lies beyond” type of thing. All bets are off, unless you’re betting on the very much odds-on prospect of things getting weirder and nastier and faster.

And a related piece for contrast: here’s Thomas P M Barnett – staunch advocate of globalisation and of the US as “sysadmin to the world” – making some points about US diplomacy and transparency that throws Wikileaks-related handwringing from the government into an interesting if unflattering light:

It’s interesting for our president to meet China’s and sign a joint declaration where both sides say they don’t consider the other to be an enemy and then to have a Pentagon-favorite military think tank publish maps of strike sites all over China that we’d want to hit in the opening days of our war with the Mainland over Taiwan.

When you’re that open with your plans, it’s hard to describe anything the Chinese do in return as particularly “provocative.” And yet, we do offer Beijing the benefit of our transparency on the subject.

Me?  If somebody publishes maps of the U.S. delineating all the places they’d want to bomb on the first day of the war . . . I’d take that kinda personally.  No, I’m not naive enough to believe the Chinese don’t have theirs. But it takes a certain chutzpah to publish yours so openly while decrying Chinese “provocations” and “throwing their weight around.”  China hasn’t waged war in a very long time.  The U.S. does so regularly.  Whose maps should we take more seriously?

I know, I know. We must think these bad thoughts in order to prevent their occurrence. I’m sure we have similar maps for every country in the world yes?  Just to be certain?

I’m sure that there’s Cablegate material that makes the US government look like a stroppy manipulative teenager trying to throw its weight around the playground of global realpolitik, but revelations like the above make you wonder whether that image bothers them as much as they claim. *shrug*

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5 Responses to “The last pre-Xmas Wikileaks post…”

  1. AnthonyA says:

    Among other things, it’s part of the job of the planners inside the military to think about every possible war scenario that they can come up with, including the most unlikely ones. As I recall, there were invasion plans of Canada from the 1950s, that surfaced in the 1970s.

    I would expect and in fact, demand that the Pentagon plan for a war with China. While I agree that it’s unlikely, the thinking that goes into it will transfer to our other conflicts.

  2. Paul Raven says:

    Neither I or Barnett are surprised the plans exist, Anthony; it’s the “making them publicly available and then accusing China of being the stroppy warmonger” bit that seems a bit daft… though, sadly, hardly out of character.

  3. Chad says:

    It’s not daft at all. Releasing the plans shows we are actually taking them seriously, which suggests we would intervene if they did anything. Maybe we should have done this with Saddam in the 80’s and he wouldn’t have gone into Kuwait? He went because he thought we didn’t care and wouldn’t do anything.

    Also, these plans are bound to leak eventually. Are theoretical war plans we purposefully release more or less threatening than leaked secret war plans? Obviously, the secret ones would be scarier, as it would seem we are trying to hide our real intentions.

  4. Paul Raven says:

    I guess we just think differently, Chad! By way of an analogy, I work on the theory that if, while walking around town, I made a point of telling every intimidating or dodgy looking person that I was keeping an eye on them and planning what to do if they attacked me, I’d be construed as being threatening or aggressive myself. Evidently I’ve been taking the wrong approach all along… 😉

  5. Chad says:

    It’s a nice analogy, but it’s really not the same thing. The dodgy looking people around town don’t expect you to have plans to attack them. China does expect the U.S. to have plans to attack them, just like the U.S. expects China to have plans.