Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Wikileaks: The Cable Guys

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  • Sacha,

    The Economist on what drives US reactions to WikiLeaks.

    Sturdy conviction in the cause of democracy and human rights, the belief that America is exceptional in its embodiment of these values, and the confidence that American power is generally applied on the side of justice make an almost ideal ideological basis for assuming the role of freedom's global steward, of the kindly superindentant of the world's lesser powers.

    I propose that this sort of exceptionalism helps explain the well-meaning earnestness of America's diplomats, the ubiquity of American surveillance and intervention, as well as the widespread American hostility toward WikiLeaks. Americans by and large trust their military, their foreign service, and even their spy agencies basically because all of them are full of Americans. If the good patriots keeping the world safe for democracy feel they need to keep certain things secret, then they need to keep certain things secret. To splash those secrets all over the internet is simply to interfere with America's attempt to carry its noble burden, to perform its urgent and necessary task, to make the world a little less safe for democracy. What kind of person would do that?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Sacha,

    Only an extremely arrogant nation would claim that kind of exceptionalism...and a nation that - despite extraordinary people who have a much wider view of how the world is, and works, and could be, *and*have a deep sense of history-is run by ...very limited self-concerned people by and large-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sacha,

    As I said to a couple of people on Twitter the other day, I've finally realised that America genuinely doesn't understand that other people may not want to be Americans.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Sacha,

    To splash those secrets all over the internet is simply to interfere with America's attempt to carry its noble burden, to perform its urgent and necessary task, to make the world a little less safe for democracy.

    There is a national acceptance of their exceptionalism that is driven in from birth and rarely questioned.

    I had an argument some twelve months ago with a fairly well, so he thought, educated gentleman from Arizona who simply couldn't come to terms with the idea that 1776 hadn't bought democracy™ to the planet - and, worse, that the United Kingdom had practised a limited (but growing over the centuries) form of democracy since the seventeenth century based on concepts and documents that went back much further.

    These documents were the cornerstone of American democracy as we now know it.

    The whole concept was as alien as good coffee was in Manhattan until a few short years ago.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Some of the global reaction to the cables makes the Guardian.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    Not suggesting the judge is part of some conspiracy, but the decision not to grant bail seems overly cautious, to say the least.

    Probably entirely understandably, though.

    Well, no, not entirely. I don’t understand why you’d refuse to grant bail to someone on the basis that they could disappear, when they just handed themselves in. Why would they do this, if they were intending to disappear once they were granted bail?

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1165 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    do me a really big favour and just write something interesting about the content of the cables?

    I tried about five times, and I wasn’t the only one, but yeah, whatever. It’s not as if PAS is the last remaining website in the world.

    I’ve read your comments and links, and some of those of others, and then further comments and links etc… and I have changed my view on the value of WikiLeaks overall quite a lot. This is part of the value of PA for me.
    But can you see how some of the posters favourable to WikiLeaks have been rather dickish in their responses, in a way that’s not helpful in getting the discussion aimed more at the content? For example…

    … or an assortment of people calling someone who has yet to have a day in court a rapist, which obviously makes you a lot happier.

    I know Danielle has covered this already, but please, rodgerd, point me to this assortment of people.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1165 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    Well, no, not entirely. I don’t understand why you’d refuse to grant bail to someone on the basis that they could disappear, when they just handed themselves in. Why would they do this, if they were intending to disappear once they were granted bail?

    Out on a limb, but there is always the possibility that knowing what they know, they're doing it for Assange's safety.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Since the inane chatter that nothing of importance has come out of these cables seems to persist I thought I might post this harrowing paragraph from a fairly harrowing story which came to us courtesy of the Wikileaks releases:

    Though the company is about as transparent as a lead-coated rock, most reports claim over 95% of their budget comes from U.S. taxpayers. That's the same budget that DynCorp used to pay for a party in Kunduz Province for some Afghan police trainees. The entertainment for the evening was bacha bazi boys, whose pimps were paid so the boys would sing and dance for the recruits and then be raped by them afterward.

    There seems little evidence that those so offended by the cable releases are showing similar outrage or even concern over this story.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    There seems little evidence that those so offended by the cable releases are showing similar outrage or even concern over this story.

    True. Even here at PAS I'm surprised. Rodgered posted this a couple of days back raising nerey an eyebrow followed by umpteen pages of Assange. This horrifying find alone positively dwarfs the Assange issue. I was so incensed reading it that I went to discuss it with my military history guy, but was more or less shut down by comparisons to the XE and what they've been getting up to for years.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Hannah,

    There seems little evidence that those so offended by the cable releases are showing similar outrage or even concern over this story.

    Well sure, but I don't think you can take silence as lack of outrage, trouble is, with this stuff there's a lack of anything to focus your outrage on. No one from Dyncorp is here, there's no one from Pfizer here, so what is there to say except "fucking hell, that's outrageous, reminds me of the under age prostitution rings in the Balkans, something should be done but I bet nothing happens, except maybe to a receptionist". And we can all agree with each other.

    With the Assange rape allegations there are other protagonists here who we can disagree with or call out for their BS (not so much lately), which gives the conversation a drive. and keeps it going.

    I think most of the conversation about the cables isn't actually about the cables, it's about our reactions to them and what they mean. And that's because there is a discussion there rather than everyone agreeing on how awful something is.

    And just noting that I think each of these cables is awful doesn't seem like a good use of anyone's time.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Hannah,

    Though, of course, I realise that if no one notes and acts on their outrage it will pretty much guarantee that nothing happens to the bastards behind this shit. I'm impressed by those who take these fights on and know that their fight would be easier if I was more proactive.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling. Gotta make you understand.

    Wow. So thats who writes the songs. It really is a deep and meaning ful way of getting into our children's minds. Who'd have thought?

    Which embassy writes for Justin Beiber?

    No, wait, It's Barry. HA! He's been CIA for EVER! He has done it all!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Pres Lula:

    President Lula says he is to register his protest at Assange's arrest on his blog. "This chap was only publishing something he read," he said. "And if he read it, it is because somebody wrote it. The guilty one is not the publisher, it is the person who wrote [these things].

    Someone who focuses on the message rather than the messenger. Oh what a message to get through!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Steve Parks,

    If Sofie knew how much I want to hug you right now, she'd be out buying a shotgun. Braaains are so much tastier when marinaded in thinkiness and knowledge. Just between us, you've moved my mind a few microns leftwards -- once or twice. ;-P

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Gaurdian mention of Israel:

    Israel can be seen maintaining discreet contact with Gulf states and have an intriguing intelligence link to Saudi Arabia.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    with this stuff there’s a lack of anything to focus your outrage on. No one from Dyncorp is here, there’s no one from Pfizer here,

    Well there’s always the US Embassy. Or closer to heart, the New Zealand Government’s (taxpayer) complicity in this US led festival of death and depravity of the last ten or so years.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Hannah,

    President Lula says he is to register his protest at Assange’s arrest on his blog. "This chap was only publishing something he read,” he said. “And if he read it, it is because somebody wrote it. The guilty one is not the publisher, it is the person who wrote [these things].

    Someone who focuses on the message rather than the messenger. Oh what a message to get through!

    I'll take your word for it, though I'd have thought protesting Assange's arrest in relation to allegations of sex crimes because he's not guilty of espionage seems to be focusing quite heavily on the messenger. And it seems a pretty sucky message to the complainants.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Tim Hannah,

    “This changes everything.” http://www.ding.net/wikileaks/234867.txt

    Am I really the only one that fell for that?

    I’ve read your comments and links, and some of those of others, and then further comments and links etc… and I have changed my view on the value of WikiLeaks overall quite a lot. This is part of the value of PA for me.

    Me too. In fact, I’ve found it difficult to have a sensible conversation about wikileaks elsewhere making more more reliant on PAS than usual. It’s not helped by the ridiculous statements made by our Attorney General.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Hannah,

    I’ve read your comments and links, and some of those of others, and then further comments and links etc… and I have changed my view on the value of WikiLeaks overall quite a lot. This is part of the value of PA for me.

    Agreed, and Giovanni’s piece on Bat Bean Beam is definitely well worth reading. Assange isn't the only one at risk of US retribution in relation to leaks, whether these or others.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    i'm coming round to the idea that what wikileaks has done is finally, once and for all, killed the image of "freedom USA".

    abu ghrahib and guantanamo bay started closing the lid, but more and more of these leaks are really nailing them shut.

    the US is a corrupt, evil giant. just like every power before it.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Islander,

    a nation that - despite extraordinary people who have a much wider view of how the world is, and works, and could be, *and*have a deep sense of history-is run by ...very limited self-concerned people by and large

    Sounds familiar..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Sacha,

    Agreed Sacha...but we dont assume to be 'the home of the free' and the guardian of the 'free world'....

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    Another good article by Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com on The media's authoritarianism and WikiLeaks

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

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