Friday, July 30, 2010

The Wikileaks' revelations will harm Afghans and that shows why we need to get out

The Obama administration freaked out at the historic leak of Afghanistan war documents by the whistleblower website Wikileaks and subsequent publication of articles based on that information by The New York Times, The Washington Post, the UK Guardian and Germany's der Spiegel.

Many people, including Daniel Ellsberg himself, compared the significance of what Wikileaks did to the release of the Pentagon Papers. Though, the respected non-profit journalism organization Pro Publica disagrees.

I tend to side more with Pro Publica. The Wikileaks information paints a damning portrait of a morass that was never going to be winnable, but even though I'm no South Asia expert, there wasn't a lot of stuff I hadn't heard before.

It's certainly important in that it illustrates to governments and bureaucracies that secrets are a lot harder to keep in the Internet age and that's certainly a good thing. Bureaucracies, even those of sainted 'liberal' administrations, tend to loathe transparency even though secrecy is the enemy of democracy and good governance.

As expected, the Obama administration and the Pentagon blasted the leaks, as did Afghan president Hamad Karzai. They all claimed it would put Afghan lives at risk. It goes without saying that there's a huge element of spin in this. 'National security' is the perpetual claim any time anything comes out to offer a real version of reality that contradicts the officially approved version of reality.

Yet here's also an element of truth to the claims.

But I think that element of truth is even more damning to the cause of the eternal occupation. How can the foreign occupation possibly succeed (whatever 'success' means) if Afghans who openly cooperate with it are literally risking their lives?

Americans like to believe we can accomplish anything if we just beat our head against a stone wall a little bit harder and never give up until that wall comes down. But what can we possibly accomplish if Afghans are too fearful to work with us? What kind of Afghanistan can be built if Afghans are too afraid to be a part of its construction?

Or maybe the definition of 'success' has other priorities than the security of Afghans and Americans.

And if there's any doubt that the present sainted 'liberal' administration has no interest in even beginning the dismantling the American empire, look no further than the fact that Pres. Obama has ordered all federal agencies to prepare for a five percent budget cut for the next fiscal year... except for the Pentagon, while will be exempted.


semi234 said...

Its tough. I can see both sides to this controversy.

On the one hand, I applaud attempts at trying to keep our government honest by using transparentcy. A lot of the information was reported a long time ago in other venues.

On the otherhand, I think the WikiLeaks really screwed up by not redacting a lot of the info, specifically names (or codenames) of our Afghan contacts. The same w/ names of towns or locations. They do the legwork from there & it really does put their lives at risk. We have lost inteligence assests on far less info than that. Just ask Chris Hansenn or Aldrich Ames.

Brian F said...

Matt, I think there are more than two sides. I don't disagree with your point in the ideal but with 90,000+ documents, I don't know how the volunteer organization could have done that. If the Pentagon had chosen to release this information with the names redacted, I'm sure news organizations would have eagerly accepted. But the Pentagon did not merely condemn the publication of the unredacted information, they condemned the release of ALL of this information.