Realpolitik #8 – WikiLeaks

I really wanted to cover Obama’s response to the Bush tax cuts, but unfortunately time is limited so I’ll keep it to the one news headline that is doing the rounds worldwide – the WikiLeaks controversy. For those of you who don’t know, WikiLeaks, headed by its editor-in-chief Julian Assange, is a new media organisation that has gained notoriety over the past few months after publishing a number of top secret U.S. security and defense documents; first, the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, and now U.S. diplomatic cables.

The moral and ethical controversy here is understandable; the documents that were published contain a number of assessments that, while not embarrassing, are certainly not opinions that should be widely read and dissected by people around the world. Julian Assange, in his piece which appeared in The Australian today, argues that his website is a necessary journalistic tool which seeks to prove the veracity of the comments made in the media; furthermore, he argues that readers have a right to know the truth, no matter how uncomfortably it may sit with their own preconceived notions.

Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks

Assange was today arrested in London under rape charges that were executed by Interpol. The rape charges, however, may be incidental; now that Assange has been arrested and kept in remand, the option is open for the London Metropolitan Police to extradite him to the United States, where he can be tried and punished for the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, as well as the recent diplomatic cables.

The issue is a complicated one; while Assange fights from the libertarian corner, proclaiming freedom of information as his ultimate concern, in my opinion what he did was wrong. He exposed a number of documents to public scrutiny, documents that had no place in the public domain to be dissected by the partisan news media. However, one worries for Assange; a number of American politicians have called for Assange to be executed; while his crimes are serious ones, execution would constitute a great miscarriage of justice.

America has long extolled the values of egalitarianism and freedom; the rebirth and efficacy of the Tea Party movement is testimony to that. Executing a person who has tried to espouse these values flies in the face of everything America stands for. This is not to suggest he should escape with nothing more than a slap on the wrists; he should be incarcerated, but no more.

On the other hand, the WikiLeaks controversy has caused a number of problems for American national security. Given the secrets exposed by WikiLeaks, the foreign policy job facing Obama has become immeasurably more difficult. Today’s Sydney Morning Herald had splashed on its front page the statement by a former US ambassador that our former Prime Minister and now Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, was a ‘mistake-prone control freak.’ Elsewhere, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is compared to Hitler, Hillary Clinton ordered operatives to spy on UN employees including the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia attempted to persuade America to invade Iran. I do not envy Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama their positions; the foreign policy mountain has grown even taller, setting back America even further in its attempts to bring stability to the Middle East, not to mention throwing into harsh relief the ethical grey areas into which they have ventured with UN spy operations.

The WikiLeaks controversy is not one I expect to see resolved very quickly, but it is also one that I find interesting; the legal situation surrounding Julian Assange is one that I will certainly follow in the weeks and months to come. It will be intriguing to see how political leaders handle the world’s most prominent web activist.

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About Rage
Australian student with interests in music, film, literature, politics, pop culture and more.

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