Saturday, December 25, 2010

Haaretz Op-Ed

Here's an op-ed I recently wrote for Haaretz newspaper.

It's about WikiLeaks and the notorious Julian Assange.


Anonymous said...

Not sure I agree. Beyond the gratification of knowing the communications government officials have amongst eachother it seems counterproductive for someone like Assange to release this information. I suppose a perfect example of that is ...our "secret" war in Yemen. There are two things I'm sure you'd agree are true, first terrorist activity in Yemen presents a danger to the United States, and arab politics being what it is prevents the president of Yemen from allowing the US to openly wage a military campaign in its country. Well, keeping the US involvement secret allowed the president of Yemen to maintain his credibility and allowed the US to take on the terrorist threat in that country. Now the secret is out. The president of Yemen will probably be less likely to assist the US in the future and our interests are the worse for it. And that's the point. People like Assange deride the military and the wars, but give very little thought to destroying the soft power option which is what the diplomats do behind closed doors. With fewer diplomats talking honestly, it increases the likelihood of misunderstanding and mistrust, and the chances that hard power will have to be used to resolve disputes. Wouldn't someone who hates war so much think through those consequences?

Though transparency is a wonderful concept, it is widely recognized that honest communication is best, and sometimes to facilitate that we need to keep it secret. That's the concept behind executive privilege, confidentiality agreements, immunity protections, etc. I think Assange is a coward and the the fact that he reserves his ire for the United States speaks volumes. Ask yourself why he has not leaked information from Russian or Chinese communications. The fact that he is willing to provoke the US government indicates he actually believes that exposing the secrets of the US will not lead to his death. If anything, we should admire a country which is willing to endure this attack to uphold its principles.


jaron said...

i agree that there is a place for secrecy in the world and i believe i allude to that in the op-...ed. i also have the utmost respect for the US for allowing this man to live, although I suspect that the rape allegations might be connected to WikiLeaks, but of course have no proof.

you're right that US soft power may be eroded by the latest leak. but the core of my argument is that govt and incs do not always look our for our best interests, and i prefer to have a mechanism for delivering secret info to the public, rather than not have it. sure, it may sometimes be detrimental to short/long term interests, and you may prove to be right with yemen, but id rather err on the side of too much information, rather than too little. for that is the most slippery slope of all; to an orwellian world. What if the us govt were to go to war in a place with a murkier raison d guerre? or the chinese govt were planning some horrendous human rights violation? of course then you would want this info out there. i agree that assange hates the us, and should focus more on other more sinister world governments, but what i tried to do was separate the platform from the politics. and whether its wikileaks, chinaleaks, iranleaks, citibank leaks, or whatever, i think there should be an outlet for whistleblowers to stick it to the man, wherever He may be.

Avram said...

"Oh, and what about that horrific clip showing U.S. soldiers shooting down innocent civilians from a chopper in Iraq as if it were a video game? Didn't I... help pay for that helicopter?"

You should watch the clip where Colbert interviews him ...and questions him about Collateral Damage ... Colbert traps him quite easily.

"Imagine if the plans of the Nazis could have been leaked to the entire world a few years before they went into effect."

They were essentially ''released' in 1941 to the Americans. There's a book that goes into depth of the abandonment (& the Auschwitz bombing - something that has never been countered by anyone):

Did much good though ...

"How long would the Cambodian genocide have lasted if live videos from the killing fields made their way out and were then tweeted across the globe?"

Just as long as the 'killing fields' in Sudan have lasted ...