Hogan's Alley

Friday, December 10, 2010

Russians Want Assange Given Nobel Peace Prize

As I suggested here the other day, the Russian government thinks Wikileaker Julian Assange is the best thing since sliced bread.  They have one-upped me.  I suggested a case of vodka, they want him to have the Nobel Peace Prize.

You can't make this stuff up.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Julian Assange - Follow-up Assessment

Julian Assange has been arrested in London on Swedish warrants accusing him of rape or sexual misconduct.  This is beside the point.  If he is a scumbag, so be it.  Let him get the appropriate punishment.  Nothing in this case will halt his patently anti-American activities via the internet.

In a recent piece in Slate, Christopher Hitchens agrees that this arrest has the wiff of being trumped up.  But, at the same time he urges Mr. Assange to turn himself in to face whatever the consequences of his publication of confidential documents will be.  As Hitch points out, Assange's entire enterprise is a massive act of sabotage and civil disobediance, done in furtherance of his stated opposition to U.S. actions in the middle east and elsewhere.  A brave man with his convictions would want to have the opportunity to publicly hold the U.S. accountable in a court of law.  Mr. Assange shows no signs of such fortitude.

Hitchens also links to a NY Times piece by the inestimable John Burns which shows Assange to be more megalomaniac than freedom's patriot.  As to his motives, Burns reports the following, 
Mr. Assange’s detractors also accuse him of pursuing a vendetta against the United States. In London, Mr. Assange said America was an increasingly militarized society and a threat to democracy. Moreover, he said, “we have been attacked by the United States, so we are forced into a position where we must defend ourselves.” 

Ironically, as Hitchens further notes, sides appear to have switched on both the left and the right regarding exposure of secrets.  Those who supported the leak of Valerie Plame's involvement in her husband's selection to look for Iraqi attempts to secure uranium are now, by and large, wishing for Assange's head.  A similar flip is clearly visible on the left.  As Hitchens aptly puts it:

As for the public's right to know and the accountability of our covert or confidential agencies, it is only a short time since the entire American liberal consensus was witlessly applauding a clumsy and fruitless prosecution, directed entirely at the hopelessly overdramatized exposure of a relatively minor CIA official, married to a monster of conceit who makes Assange look bashful. It then turned out that Valerie Plame's job description had been made public by Robert Novak and Richard Armitage, who also had in common with Assange a rooted opposition to the administration's Iraq policy. Elements of the left and the right appear to have switched positions on full disclosure since then.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Wikileaks Goal, Bring Down the West?

The new dump of cable traffic from the U.S.State Department is simply the latest in Julian Assange, the Wikileaks leader's, ongoing campaign to disable the western democracies and large western corporations.  He may assert that he seeks openness in all governments and institutions, but take a look at their website.  (You'll have to find it your self because I will never link to it.)  What you will find is their promotion of themselves by listing all their important releases.  What they all have in common, except for a few leaks from African governments, is that all the released information is from American and European governments and corporations.

Where are documents that reveal the inner workings of Russia and China's worldwide efforts, not to mention the horrors of charming little terror states like North Korea.  Without noting the irony, Assange asserts on their website that one of their methods of securing documents is to file FOIL requests.  The Freedom Of Information Law is a creature of American democracy.  Similar rights to access government documents exist in other democracies.  Go try and file a FOIL request in Bejing or Moscow.  I guarantee that you will end up in jail, if you are lucky.

The resulting outcome of Wikileaks' activity is to hobble U.S. intelligence and diplomacy while leaving the other great powers to do as they wish with the assurance of full secrecy.  Given that this is the only completely predictable outcome of these leaks, it is logical to assume this as the goal of the exercise.  Were I the chief of Russian intelligence I would, assuming that he is not in fact my agent, send Julian Assange a case of the finest vodka for his contribution to damaging the West.

The other irony in this affair is that Assange and other leftists who, if their writings are to be believed, seek world peace and are attacking the U.S. as the warmonger nation they see it to be are actively seeking to damage U.S. diplomacy.  Do they really believe that if America cannot conduct peaceful diplomacy with the world that future Presidents will be then less likely to rely on the blunt instruments wielded by our armed forces?

As James P. Rubin notes at the New Republic:

By and large, the hard left in America and around the world would prefer to see the peaceful resolution of disputes rather than the use of military force. World peace, however, is a lot harder to achieve if the U.S. State Department is cut off at the knees. And that is exactly what this mass revelation of documents is going to do. The essential tool of State Department diplomacy is trust between American officials and their foreign counterparts. Unlike the Pentagon, which has military forces, or the Treasury Department, which has financial tools, the State Department functions mainly by winning the trust of foreign officials, sharing information, and persuading. Those discussions have to be confidential to be successful. Destroying confidentiality means destroying diplomacy.
As for Pfc. Bradley Manning, who claims to have downloaded all these documents and provided them to Wikileaks, he is so deluded that he says the following to Adrian Lamo, a former hacker, as reported on the Wired site:
What, me worry?

Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public.

Everywhere there’s a U.S. post, there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed,” he wrote. “It’s open diplomacy. World-wide anarchy in CSV format. It’s Climategate with a global scope, and breathtaking depth. It’s beautiful, and horrifying.

I hope he is enjoying the non-event that his actions provoked.  As soon as the Times has finished reporting the contents of the newest leak in a few days the event will be over.  Anarchy will not be unleashed on the world, no governments will fall and no senior officials will resign.  But the diplomatic dealings of the United State will change in very serious ways, all aimed at less information being available.  The organization will continue, but it will generate much less information about other nations to American leaders.  Less information can predictibly lead only to less informed decision making.  Not a good thing for a great power capable of mass destruction.  War, not peace, is the most likely product of Wikileaks venting its founder's anger at America.

One last thought: Isn't it interesting that so very much of what is said in the "secret" documents has been said in public by our officials?  I would love to see some Russian and Chinese cable traffic and compare it to their public pronouncements.

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