Someone recently sent me Roger Cohen’s piece on Wikileaks. His take is that yes, American Diplomacy has been revealed—as a thoroughly good set of practices. Cohen is right about there not being any big revelations coming out of this latest round of Wikileaked documents. But what bothers me about the documents that are have been released is their illustration of the insouciance with which American diplomats view our screwed-up world.
Sure, we’ve probably all suspected that the Saudis bankrolled terrorists (to lethal effect), that the ISI is playing double-game (with deadly consequences), that government servants—royalty no less—have little time for trivial little things like accountability and those irritating anti-corruption agencies, and so on.
But you get the impression that they’re inured to all of this, and that we’re supposed to be too. That it’s just how the ‘real world’ works, and that those of us who spend any time carping about government hypocrisy (that gets people—lots of people—killed), worrying about dodgy arms deals (that fuel wars in parts of the world where most of us will never set foot), criticising a lack of accountability (which leads to ramped up secrecy), wondering why Israel gets carte blanche (which ties our hands as per the Middle East peace process), should get a grip and let people whose moral fibre seems to have been surgically removed run the show without an iota of oversight.
Julian Assange, Wikileaks’ front man, is a red-herring. Sure, he’s a blowhard, might seem a bit shady, and is more than a little full of himself. But if he makes Cohen “queasy”, the poor little journalist must have an awfully strong stomach to be able to sit down to write a column praising the people who go through the motions of defending American interests every day by doing deals with mass murderers, thugs, corrupt politicians at home and abroad, the “freedom fighters” of today who will be the “terrorists” of tomorrow at whom we’ll be lobbing $70,000 missiles out of $4.5 million drones. And if they’re not actively complicit, their silence condemns them many times over.
Every piece of psychoanalysis that some credulous git like Cohen pens about Assange is a victory for the people driving our frankly rather shockingly immoral foreign policy. It’s a victory for those who are contemptuous of democracy and the openness that it should bring. My sense is that the likes of Cohen are really just worried that their ‘anonymous sources’ might begin drying up. If that were to happen, they’d actually have to do some serious investigative journalism (i.e. their jobs). It’s much easier for them to take people in the State Department, the White House, and the DoD at their words.