Originally posted on http://www.davechampion.net
A fair amount of people seem to be upset about the recent Wikileaks release of U.S. State Dept embassy cables. I’ve heard these folks describe the Wikileaks’ founder, Julian Assange, as a traitor. I’ve heard people say that he should be hung and that he should get a bullet to the head. I’ve heard people say that the fact that Assange is still breathing is proof of what a weak President Barack Obama is.
But by far the most frequent statement I’ve heard is that Wikileaks and Julian Assange are “attacking America.”
What comes through loud and clear from these statements is that these folks believe themselves to be patriotic defenders of America. While I have no doubt of their sincerity or their patriotic verve, they are wrong on just about every count when it comes to the Wikileaks documents and Julian Assange.
Let’s start with the statement that Assange is a traitor. This statement probably defines those in the anti-Wikileaks crowd who are not burdened by a particularly high IQ.
Traitor – A person who commits treason by betraying his or her country. (Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010)
Julian Assange in not an American. He is Australian. And while 18 USC 2381 merely requires one to be in the position of “owing allegiance to the United States” in order to be prosecuted for treason, Assange does not fit that requirement either.
It’s impossible to take such folks seriously. They’ve proven by their very first statement that they’ve not bothered to inform themselves of the most basic aspects of the situation.
It seems to me that a lot of Americans have a bizarre Pavlovian dog response to a particular stimuli. This Pavlovian response becomes evident when a person succumbs to what I call the “Boogeyman Syndrome”.
The Boogeyman Syndrome is initiated when politicians and/or the media (both being pillars of rectitude) designate someone as a “boogeyman” – i.e. someone who is a horrible dirty threat to America – and these folks immediately respond with passionate anger against whoever has been so designated. They immediately scream “He is a dirty vile threat to America! Off with his head!”
This knee-jerk Pavlovian response seems to accomplish three things. First, it makes those who are under the influence of Boogeyman Syndrome completely receptive to whatever allegations the politicians and/or media make against the “boogeyman”. Second, it seems to completely nullify any need, desire, or ability, to determine if the allegations are remotely true or accurate. Third, it creates a “group think” mentality in which initial allegations are repeated (ad nauseam) by those affected by the Boogeyman Syndrome, thus strangely creating a false reality that the allegations are true or factual in the minds of others who are also under the affects of the Syndrome.
Somehow, this incestuous process of repeating the allegations back and forth to one another takes the place of rational analysis and permits those affected by the Boogeyman Syndrome to then pronounce the allegation “true and correct”.
Normally, blindly repeating false allegations back and forth to create a false sense of “truth” is the domain of the political Left. However, many on the Right suddenly adopt this bizarre and irrational behavior when they are told (yet again) that some “boogeyman” is threatening America.
The powers-that-be have pronounced Julian Assange, and hence Wikileaks, the “boogeyman” of the hour. Pavlov has rung the bell and the Boogeyman Syndrome has taken over!
This article would be a waste of time (and inaccurate) if Wikileaks is indeed “attacking America”. Accordingly, let’s explore whether that’s actually happening. The best way I know to do that is to look at the information Wikileaks has made available and see for ourselves if the information will produce the cataclysmic consequences alleged by those under the influence of the Boogeyman Syndrome.
These “consequences” seem to fall into two categories. First, that American soldiers or intelligence operatives will be killed. Second, that U.S. national security has been compromised.
Because I host a nationally syndicated talk-radio show and discuss these types of controversies daily, I’ve paid careful attention to the documents disclosed by Wikileaks. Let’s see how they stack up against the Boogeyman Syndrome allegations. The following are random samplings of what the Wikileaks document dump has revealed.
Russia Government – The U.S. embassy in Moscow asserts that Russian national government has degenerated into one gigantic criminal enterprise with Vladimir Putin as the chief Mob Boss.
Who didn’t know this? Anyone who keeps up with international news stories already knew this! But let’s see how this fares in the context of the allegations made by the Boogeyman Syndrome crowd. How many American soldiers or intelligence operatives will be killed by this “revelation”? Has U.S. national security been damaged? Precisely.
Iraq – Iraq’s situation has been complicated by the outside influence of its neighbors, especially Iran.
Oh my God!!! Really??? Had Wikileaks not let that document out I would never have known! Of course I’m being facetious. What child couldn’t have figured that out? But again, how does this revelation comport itself in reference to the wild-eyed claims of those with the Boogeyman Syndrome? Will this Wikileaks document get American soldiers or intelligence operatives killed? Nope. Does it compromise national security? Nope.
As an aside, it does give us a glimpse into the mentality and tactics of Iran. This at a time when there is an active debate as to whether “the West” should use military power to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Though I won’t go into it here, I found the information about Iran’s actions to be chilling and support the view that America should not permit a nuclear Iran. Oddly, those suffering from Boogeyman Syndrome never once use the information in this Wikileaks document to make the case that a nuclear Iran IS a significant threat to U.S. national security! Could that be because they’ve never actually read what is in the Wikileaks documents? I imagine that is exactly the case.
French President – The embassy in Paris feels that the French President is “vain and ineffective”.
Holy cow! Now THAT revelation will certainly get American soldiers or intelligence operatives killed, and is clearly a breach of national security! A vain Frenchman? Really? That’s only slightly less amazing than finding an Asian with slanted eyes.
State Dept Spying – Hillary Clinton ordered her diplomats to gather intel on foreign diplomats and foreign matters.
This one seems to have really stunned quite a few Americans. Sadly, the only thing it demonstrates is how naive Americans are and that they do not read history. Diplomats have always spied. Diplomats have been spying since there were diplomats. The only way this document would have been a real “story” was if it said that our diplomats weren’t spying! In fact, diplomatic spying is so common that each year the CIA creates a “wish list” of intelligence it would like State Dept diplomats to gather during the year and gives it to the Secretary of State.
And guess what? Every nation does the same thing! Diplomats from every nation spy. Every diplomat in the world presumes from the outset that every other diplomat he comes in contact with is spying. It’s part of their job. It’s what they do. The point being that this “disclosure” didn’t tell diplomats around the world anything they didn’t already know. Telling the world that diplomats spy on one another is about as “revealing” as telling a teenager that homework is a drag!
But I digress; back to the main point. How many American soldiers or intelligence operatives will be killed by this “revelation”? Has U.S. national security been damaged by telling people what they already knew?
Speaking of “what they already know”; did you hear the White House said that despite the fact the entire world has seen these documents, they remain “classified”?
If you think documents are classified for national security reasons, you should buy or rent the documentary “Secrecy” that addresses the government’s penchant for secrecy. You’ll never see “classified” the same again.
Afghanistan – President Karzai is not a particularly reliable partner for the U.S. and his brother is corrupt.
Gee wiz mister wizard; yet another stunning non-story. Who is it with a brain in his head that does not understand Hamid Karzai has an agenda other than being a complete sycophant to U.S. interests? It may come as a surprise to some Americans, but the Afghans don’t like us being there! In their eyes we are a non-Muslim, infidel, Christian, invader. Karzai is involved in a balancing act. Not many Americans understand that the only part of Afghanistan that is controlled by the U.S. (and its puppet Afghan government) is Kabul. With the U.S. in control of only a speck on the map of a very large country, why would Karzai be putting all his eggs in our basket?
And I’m sure the lesson of Vietnam isn’t lost on him either. The U.S. will make all sorts of promises. Then, when the American people get tired of their sons and daughters dying for no good reason on the other side of the planet, we’ll pull out and leave Kabul to the same fate to which we left Saigon. Whether or not you think Afghanistan is worth YOUR child dying (or having his/her legs blown off) let me assure you that after several years America will tire of it and our military will be pulled out.
What of Karzai’s brother being corrupt? To borrow a fabulous movie line, “That’s like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500.” The Middle East runs on graft and corruption. A Middle Eastern man who can’t get some graft out of any deal he’s involved with is considered an incompetent fool. It is their culture.
Most Afghanis and Iraqis don’t cooperate with the U.S. because they like the U.S. or think we’re doing God’s good work in their country. They cooperate because we PAY them LOTS of MONEY! The U.S. also knows what a weak policy this is. The U.S. has repeatedly experienced that as soon as the payments stop Afghanis cease to cooperate with the U.S. and begin discussions with the Taliban. Those in positions of power in Afghanistan want to get PAID, and that doesn’t mean their puny civil service salary. Their loyalty is to what they can get and from whom. Still want your son or daughter to die over there?
Of course Karzai and his brother, and everyone else with a brain, already knows all of this. Karzai knows the game he’s playing. His brother knows he makes a ton of money cutting all sorts of slimy deals on the side. Other high-ranking Afghans know it. The common Afghani presumes it because it is their culture. American diplomats, military, and intelligence officials know it.
So who didn’t know it? Apparently only the inattentive American public.
Back to the main question. How many American soldiers or intelligence operatives will be killed by this “revelation”? Has U.S. national security been damaged? The answer to both questions is plainly, no.
I could go on and on with more Wikileaks “revelations” but each would be the same. I have not found a single diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks that will cause a U.S. soldier or intelligence agent any harm, nor have I found a single incident that breaches U.S. national security. That’s probably because I’ve actually read the cables. Those who are under the affects of the Boogeyman Syndrome haven’t. They merely repeat what they’ve heard. And they feel damn patriotic about it!
Before I close on Wikileaks, let me make a few facts clear. First, Assange possesses 250,000 diplomatic cables. He has released only a minuscule fraction. If he was really “attacking America” he could simply release them all.
Second, he and his staff spent months reviewing the cables to insure that nothing they released would cause harm to any U.S. personnel. If he was trying to “attack America” he wouldn’t waste his time.
Third, Wikileaks staff worked in a cooperative effort with their media partners for several weeks in advance of the release to further insure that nothing truly damaging was going to be released.
Fourth, Assange asked the U.S. State Dept to work with Wikileaks on redacting the documents prior to release. The State Dept declined the offer. It’s virtually impossible to accuse Assange of “attacking America” when he asked the U.S. government to insure no damage would be done, and the government refused.
Lastly, the very same dramatic allegations were made against Assange on the previous occasions Wikileaks had made U.S. documents available to the public. Guess what? None of the ridiculous claims every materialized. Why? Because they are not based on fact, reason or logic, but upon this bizarre Pavlovian dog Boogeyman Syndrome.
What is the root of this strange behavior on the part of otherwise rational thinking Americans? It seems to be based on the misconception that the U.S. government = America. In other words, if one does something the U.S. government doesn’t like, one is “attacking America”.
One very strange aspect of this behavior is that those on the Right typically don’t trust the federal government much. Most people on the Right believe the federal government has usurped power it wasn’t granted in the Constitution and that it is instrumental in promoting Socialism, which is the enemy of personal liberty. But somehow, once they get hit with the Boogeyman Syndrome, the government miraculously becomes all that is good and right about America and its secret must be kept at all costs. (As I said earlier, watch “Secrecy” and you’ll be singing a different tune.)
The big question is how do we get these usually rational Americans to stop acting as the dupes of the federal government (and its cronies) and stop making bizarre and wildly inaccurate statements. Hell, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a maturity thing. Maybe they’ve not yet matured enough politically to understand how child-like their reaction is and how readily they make themselves a tool of those who do not have America’s best interests at heart.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said that through the Wikileaks documents the truth “has been revealed even though it was known”. In other words, all the players on the international scene knew all these things, but the U.S. government was keeping it all a big fat secret from YOU!
I will close with the words of Wikileaks attorney. “If global stability is based on deception and lies, maybe it needs a bit of a shaking up.” Amen.
I’m all for some fresh air and sunlight on what our government is doing around the world, ostensibly in our name. The truly sad part of this story is that our government is so closed and secretive toward its own citizens that the job of letting the sunshine in falls to Julian Assange, a foreigner.