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*


Cablegate: the morning after

Paul Raven @ 29-11-2010

Well, here we are: no one yet dead as a result of the latest WikiLeaks release, so far as I can tell, but a lot of egg on political faces. I remarked to a friend on Saturday that it’d probably contain depressing proofs of things we’d long suspected, and it looks like I wasn’t far off the mark… though that’s hardly an act of staggering insight and prescience on my part.

I’m going to leave the punditry and predictions to the professionals (or at least those with far more of the pertinent specialist knowledge than myself), but the one thing I’ll assert without any hesitation is that, while it may cause friction and difficulty in the political short- and medium-term, this leak – and others like it, past and future – is a good thing for us, the people of the world. Sure, nothing’s going to change overnight, and the removal of the public facades of diplomacy from the theatres of contemporary conflicts – be they physical, ideological, economic or all three – will certainly make things more difficult for all parties involved in them… but maybe that’ll mean said parties are less willing to start such conflicts in the first place.

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” in other words. But what do you lot think?