Revenge of the Nerd: No diplomat, politician, bank or hairstyle is safe!
I had been patiently waiting for all of the cables to be released so that I might go through them with a fine tooth comb, reflect, synthesize, and then come up with something brilliant and sensible to say about them, with authority, and wisdom. Spouting off hysterically is not really my style… Then someone told me that less than 1% of the cables had even been released.
Gah! Hysterical spouting, commence!
A lot of people seem to think this fellow who just by coincidence happens to look like a villain in Hollywood movie and who just by coincidence happens to work out of a Bond movie type bunker, is some kind of … freedom fighter. A hero. I find this attitude a bit infantile. I am all about freedom of speech, and freedom of information. Freedom to speak one’s own mind publicly if one so chooses, without fear of retribution, freedom to access what has been spoken publicly by others. Freedom to air what individuals who are not me have said in confidence to one another? Er? What’s next, you have the right to publish my diary on the internet, so long as you can prove someone else stole it from my bedside table? I’m sure I’ve said things that make the US government look like idiots. It could be damaging to our national security if published. … Mind you, I love the Wikileaks! Mmm, mmm – they ARE delicious! I cannot get enough Batman and Robin and voluptuous Ukrainian nurses! But if information is power, my friends, this is not much in the way of information. This is gossip. And the only people who think gossiping and divulging secrets=power are middle school girls and the host of TMZ. … Now, does this mean I think it Wikileaks should be illegal? Look, I not only think TMZ should be on the air, I think an entire station should be devoted to it. But just because something is legal doesn’t make it necessary. Wikileaks is like porn but for policy wonks. Am I against porn? Not on principle. But the way it gets made always weighs on my conscience. And while it might be relatively harmless, it doesn’t actually solve problems. Unless your problem is not having an excuse to avoid having to solve your problems.
Yes, I think this whole cable dump, leak or whatever other euphemism for animal waste evacuation you want to use, is a huge diversion. Any monkey, hell, even the NSA, can collect raw communications by the boatload. But it takes sentient beings to actually make sense of it all, separate the wheat from the chaff, to turn a barn full of data into useful information. And this is not even raw data. All of the cables I have read are simply hearsay, gossip, conjecture, secondhand information or flat out storytelling. What useful information have the Wikileaks honestly added to your understanding of foreign policy? That it is conducted by narrowminded, incompetent, spoiled twits with self-serving agendas? I don’t know anyone who thought our diplomatic corps were competent, and frankly, NO ONE needed a leak of classified information to see that outdated stereotypes, questionable sources and plain old pettiness plagues our foreign policy. Shame on you if you actually had to learn that from Julian Assange. Maybe you think Assange is like the child in the fairytale who proclaims the Emperor has no clothes? But we don’t need someone to tell us the Emperor has no clothes, we’ve seen America wagging its cock in the face of the human race for decades. What we need is someone to demand the Emperor put on some pants!
Citizens, experts and the journalism establishment have collectively failed to demand the US government adhere to the same standards of professional conduct and competency that are generally expected of the average homo sapien. I don’t see why we should then turn to one smarmy individual with positively no interest in discretion or responsibility, who has tricked the whole world into looking at the exposed, underdeveloped member of the US diplomatic corps, to be a champion of humility and restraint. This man is not our knight in shining armour. We have a good laugh, we gasp in embarrassment, we watch as the most powerful individuals and governments on the planet scramble to rescue their dignity, scattered in pieces over the pages of newspapers and websites like a barrel of marbles upturned in a skating rink. It’s quite a spectacle, and I would not be surprised if a pistol-toting cat walking on its two hind legs were spied accompanying the hero of our story. It’s a great story. Substance-wise, impact on the caliber of foreign policy-wise: I Just. Don’t. Care.
Assange seems to appeal, from my observations, to 3 groups of people: 1) Male computer nerds who make up for what they lack in the interpersonal skills department with fantasies of power and chicks and Bond villain lairs. Assange is essentially a poster boy for these social outcasts. “Look at me. If I can do it, so can you.” What were witnessing here is a real life version of Revenge of the Nerds. 2) Activists who feel politically emasculated after marching in the streets (shock!) failed to prevent the invasion of Iraq, etc. They’ve been screaming from the mountaintops that our leaders are evil, conspiratorial, irresponsible, deceitful and otherwise loathsome creatures, but, alas, no one would listen. Now there are official documents vindicating them! But still, no one is listening. Why should they? 3) Vladimir Putin. And who can blame him, really?
No, I don’t think Julian Assange is a hero (though I arguably fall into camp #2). However, I do think various governments around the world are doing everything in their power -and outside of that power- to turn him into one. And it appears they will succeed. Heads up, Mumia, your reign is about to end! But if being made an example of by a fragile empire willing to take extraordinary measures and flout the law to curb your influence and teach you a lesson about who is boss makes you a bona fide hero, I’m hitching a ride on the Misha K bandwagon. Why not? Because the ends justify the means? Because Misha K was in it for himself while Assange is doing all this for you? Pah-Leeze. The man is an egomaniac. “I believe geopolitics will be separated into pre and post cablegate phases.” So, he is not modest. Hell, he may even be right. Well, Hitler might also make this claim. Wreaking havoc doesn’t make you a hero. Improving lives does. And how has, or will, the Wikileaks actually improve our lives? And don’t give me the “information is power” spiel. Information is only empowering when combined with critical thinking skills and the motivation to get off your ass and act on said information. Not much improvement on that front, Wikileaks or no. Unless Assange is breaking condoms in order to bring a whole breed of fiercely analytical, empathetic and courageous beings into the world who will posses some magical immunity to the perverse and destructive system of reward and punishment that defines 21st century global culture … I just don’t see how a post-Wikileaks world is any significant improvement. Lack of information is not the problem. Americans have perhaps the freest press in the world – even allowing for the arrest of Assange, almost ubiquitous Internet access and a free and sprawling public library system. Classified government communications and the maniacal jottings of schizophrenic hermits are about the only thing we don’t have access to, and while such documents may confirm the worst fears of conspiracy theorists and give us insight into the minds of madness, fortunately, we need not rely on them to see what is right in front of our faces.
Do I think he should have been arrested? Only if he broke the law. And if there are laws against making America look stupid or being flippant about a one night stand involving a condom mishap, well, we better get to work constructing more jails, or just change our name to “The Prison Industrial Complex of America,” make everyone wear jumpsuits, give everyone free access to healthcare and call it a day. I am sure the same could be done in other countries.
OTOH, I really am not convinced that every conversation had by everyone in the world is my business. It’s not so much the hacking that concerns me, but the arrogance.
Which may be the real arena of competition between the authors of the cables and their publishers.