a useful, conventional-conservative perspective on the WikiLeaks controversy. Lowry emphasizes three points which I also have discussed: the utter destructiveness of Julian Assange’s motivations; the damage that the leaks will cause to America’s ability to get other countries to cooperate with it; and (perhaps contradicting the previous two points) the actual absence of substantively harmful information in the leaks themselves. Indeed, Lowry argues, the leaks often bring out information, such as on the barbarism of the Taliban, that confirms the conservative view of things.
Barack Obama came into office hawking the illusion that America’s adversaries hated his predecessor, not this country. Julian Assange begs to differ.
The first batch of WikiLeaks documents undermined the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, violent conflicts started by the hated, warmongering Bush administration. The latest batch undermines American diplomacy, the soft art of international bargaining and persuasion as practiced by the highly anticipated, engagement-loving Obama administration.
The classic justification for a leak is to expose malfeasance. In all his tens of thousands of released documents, Assange has exposed none, despite his typically delusional boast that the first dump revealed “thousands” of possible war crimes. Assange’s goal is wanton destruction, pure and simple.
He wants to expose to retribution those who cooperate with us on the ground in war zones. He wants to undercut domestic support for our wars. He wants to embarrass our foreign allies and exact a price for their trust in us. He wants to complicate sensitive operations like securing nuclear material in Pakistan and attacking terrorists with missiles in Yemen.
Assange is Noam Chomsky with a knack for computers and a determination to do the “American empire” more harm than just lashing out against it in feverish books gobbled up by college sophomores.
Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, proposes designating WikiLeaks a terrorist organization. That won’t happen. In his left-wing nihilism, though, Assange shares something of the spirit of the Red Brigades or the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the leftist European terrorist organizations of the 1970s. His propaganda of the deed is malicious exposure.
Assange is too blinded by zeal to realize that the content of his documents runs counter to his twisted worldview. As Tom Joscelyn of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies notes, his leaked Afghan war materials referred to numerous instances of decapitations perpetrated by the Taliban. The documents told the story of a civilized army struggling to prevail against barbarism while honoring its own norms.
Our leaked diplomatic cables again do more to vindicate a hawk’s view of the world than Assange’s juvenile leftism. The Gulf Arab states are as eager as Israel, perhaps more so, for the United States to strike Iran’s nuclear program. North Korea is transferring missile technology to Iran, in a concrete expression of the Axis of Evil. Syria is arming Hezbollah. And on it goes.
One hopes that the Obama administration has learned a little something about the difference between governing and spouting comforting bromides. In keeping with his pledge to talk to our enemies, Barack Obama fruitlessly reached out to Tehran—and alarmed our allies. The most pathetic episode in the documents is the administration begging countries like Slovenia and Kiribati to take prisoners from Gitmo, in its desperation to fulfill its foolish promise to shutter the facility rapidly.
Confronting a dangerous world is difficult enough without the brazen exposure of the nation’s secrets. The Obama administration must hold accountable whoever established the woeful security procedures that allowed Bradley Manning, an Army private in Iraq and the alleged source of the documents, to capture massive amounts of sensitive data with the ease of an iTunes download. Manning should face the sternest possible charges, with the severest possible punishment. Assange himself exists as the cyber equivalent of a pirate, an Australian floating between European countries and operating with impunity.
Surely, the same Justice Department that sued Arizona for daring to enforce the nation’s immigration laws can find a creative way to harry and shut down Assange.