Atanu Dey On India's Development

Wikileaks Will Make The World A Safer Place

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WikiLeaksJonathan Swift, author of the English classic Gulliver’s Travels (1726), had pithily observed that “when a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.” I would be going over the top to pass Julian Assange on that genius test but seeing the army of powerful people and institutions arrayed against him, I am getting more convinced that Wikileaks has changed the world in ways that are only dimly understood today. I am careful to distinguish between the man and the institution since confusing the two can lead to the unfortunate mistake of shooting the messenger for delivering an unpalatable message.

They are doing all they can to cripple Wikileaks financially. Paypal, Mastercard and Visa have halted Wikileaks payments. A Swiss bank has frozen Wikileaks’ and Assange’s assets. He has been charged with rape in Sweden and arrested in Britian. He has been denied bail, then released and immediately re-arrested, and now is out on bail, but Sweden is seeking his extradition.

From what I can tell, the rape charges are trumped up. The accusations are flimsy — they are about condom use. If Assange was the average guy on the street, those cases would not even be reported in the local newspapers, and no one would take the accusations seriously. The courts and the police have more serious crimes to fight than to listen to the whining of two women who are motivated by who knows what. I would not be surprised if the CIA has got them on their payroll.

Anyway, character matters but the institution must not be judged by the person’s character. I think he is a hero and innocent until proven guilty. If he’s guilty of rape, I hope he is punished to the full extent of the law. All rapists, regardless of whether they did great work elsewhere, must be punished. I still have confidence in the legal system of Western European countries; let them work it out.

What matters to me is Wikileaks. I think that it’s the greatest thing that has happened in the world of late. Wikileaks has the potential to make the world a safer place.

That sounds totally insane, you may say. You’d ask: Did you know that Wikileaks released a list of sites that is critical to US national security?

A list of facilities around the world whose loss would “critically impact” America’s ability to defend itself has been published by WikiLeaks, causing anger in the US because of fears it could help terrorists identify potential targets. The document was drawn up by the State Department in February 2009, after all of the country’s overseas missions were asked to provide a run-down of critical pieces of local infrastructure.

Hundreds of pipelines, communication hubs and manufacturing plants on several continents were listed, along with some of the planet’s largest nuclear and military facilities. Many are in the UK, including several satellite sites and plants owned by BAE Systems. {The Independent (UK) Dec 7.}

How can publishing a list of targets for the Islamic terrorists to go after be better for the world?

First thing to note is that “better for the world” need not mean “better for US military-industrial complex.” In fact, the world’s interests are arguably opposed to the interests of the US military-industrial complex. I have written about that on this blog and will not bother to repeat the arguments here.

The basic idea here is that when the Islamic terrorists attack the vital interests of the US, the US gets serious about tackling Islamic terrorism. As long as the Islamic terrorists keep doing their terrorism killing infidels in the rest of the world and keep their bombs out of the US, the US is fairly content with funding the Terrorist State of Pakistan and funding the training of jihadists.

Quick reminder here. The US funded jihadists in Afghanistan — to fight the Russians.

When the Islamic terrorists attack US interests, only then it gets serious about doing something to stop the terrorists. Even a dud bomb makes the US sit up. On May 1st a car bombing attempt was made in Times Square in NY. Just two days later, they had Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American, in custody. Soon enough Secretary Clinton told the Pakistani leaders that if ever any terrorism in the US originates in Pakistan, it would be really really bad for them.

The point is that the US has absolutely no reason to go and root out Islamic terrorism. In fact, it serves the US’s military-industrial complex’s ends very well. The more terrorism, the better is it for business. They now have full-body scanners in US airports. They are now exporting them to other countries.

The bunch of industry leaders accompanying US president in his visit to India included people who sell full-body scanners. A few billion worth of them will be sold to India, and we will be paying for them with increased ticket prices. Our loss but the winners will be the Indian leaders who will get kickbacks from the deals, and of course the machine manufacturers. Without the help of Islamic terrorist, there would be no need for spending huge sums of money. The US has spent $45 billion since Sept 2001 in aviation “security.”

Quick reminder. The other side of spending is income. $45 billion was earned by people in arranging the security theater, thanks to Islamic terrorism.

Islamic terrorism is a fact of the world. Now, there are two ways of going about it. One: attack the cause, uproot it and eradicate it from the world. Or the other: let it go on, keep selling “security” around the world, and keep your own people and stuff safe from Islamic terrorism.

The US takes the latter option. It is good for business.

If the US really becomes vulnerable to Islamic terrorism, and the only way is to eradicate it entirely instead of just keeping it going around the world, only then will Islamic terrorism be a thing of the past. If the US’s vital interests are targeted by the Islamic terrorists, we will see them depart for their 72 virgins. It will be good for the world — and also good for the US.

Wikileaks will help the world. In my next bit, I will argue why it has been the greatest thing for India.

PS: Here’s a comment to a Walls Street Journal article from June 14 — over six months ago — titled “Wikileaks and National Security.”

I wish governments were honest and didn’t hide their mistakes, or worse – torture, behind a façade of secrecy. Maybe it’s time for a little more honesty in the world instead of diplomatic double standards which justify supporting repressive régimes in the “interests” of American foreign policy which (sic) we simultaneously profess “democracy” and “human rights”.

Hypocrisy is the first victim of the power of truth.

  • Suhit

    Never thought about it this way. It sure makes sense that if there any further attacks in the US they will take it much more seriously than an attack on India.

    Waiting for your take on India.

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  • Kaffir

    “The basic idea here is that when the Islamic terrorists attack the vital interests of the US, the US gets serious about tackling Islamic terrorism. “

    True to some extent, but the above is contradicted by USA-Pakistan relationship. Besides, 9/11 led to the misadventure in Iraq, which can hardly be characterized as “US getting serious about tackling Islamic terrorism.” If the US were really serious about tackling terrorism, Osama Bin Laden would’ve been caught or brought to justice within a year or two.

    “Quick reminder here. The US funded jihadists in Afghanistan — to fight the Russians. “

    Hindsight is 20/20. At that time, Russia was the Communist evil (an ideology, which, if I’m correct, you intensely abhor), so it was considered OK to defeat it by any means necessary.

    BTW, do you really think that the US will continue to keep the same safety measures after such measures have been exposed by Wikileaks, so that terrorists can use the information? Do the terrorists really need such leaks to carry out their nefarious plans? I just hope that more sting operations by the FBI will make even the most fanatic Muslim to think ten times before accepting/joining any offer of a plan to blow things up in the US.

  • http://www.LifeMantras.com LifeMantra

    One of the women accusing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of sex crimes appears to have worked with a group that has connections to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/assange-rape-accuser-cia-ties/

  • http://ketpan.wordpress.com/ Ketan

    Atanu,

    As I have read, I guess, two articles written by you on the military-industrial complex (MIC), I could almost predict what you had to say at the beginning of your post. But one thing I noticed is that you’ve presumed the US to be a monolithic entity. Meaning, is the US society, just like India’s, not divided into the ‘common people’ & ‘powerful people (politicians & industrialists)’? Do their interests necessarily coincide? Why do you think it is only the terrorist incidents that happen outside the US that further the MIC’s interests? What about those incidents that occur *within* the US? If one occurs, will Americans not get, to use the terminology you do with some regularity, ape-shit crazy and buy more arms, and then some more, without *really* eliminating terrorism (assuming, accomplishing such a thing were indeed possible)? In fact, I believe even if the US were to be converted into another Swath Valley (which I am not suggesting by farthest stretch, that will happen), the administrators & the industrialists will ensure that they and their families are safe (just like how it is in India). Both these entities will collectively have no incentive to *truly* make terrorism vanish in forms that could hurt the US.

    In what all I say, an important determinant would be the extent to which people’s mandate is able to influence the American policy-decisions. Being a representative democracy, I don’t think America’s situation must be much better than India’s in that regard. Even if the common people might want terrorism routed out, if its presence within the US soil helps some or the other kind of industry (which it definitely will), there is no reason some powerful entity (politicians/industrialists) would want terrorism out of the US, provided these powerful entities themselves would be safe.

    All that I write above is with the very dim world-view of how human beings operate. As I have never been to the US, I am curious, is it a case that in your observation, an average US politician is more patriotic & idealistic than an average Indian one?

    —–

    Anyway, apart from what you pointed out I think the most fundamental way in which WikiLeaks would change the world is in demolishing the myth that a select few people could be entrusted with immense power & money to work for the larger good of the rest and that they would continue to have best interests in their hearts. This is a stupid way to look at governance. And I unfortunately find the Indian Constitution written in this good faith (and I have not been able to think how it could have been written with significantly better provisions). So, the best thing I think that will happen with WikiLeaks will be development of skepticism. It is good that people will grow skeptical of all claims coming from people purporting to be acting selflessly “for the larger good”. For, no such larger good usually exists. I also wish, even ‘religious leaders’ should be similarly exposed.

    It is for the same reason I loved the Neera Radia-tape leaks that made at least a minuscule minority in India aware of the fact that all these ‘journalists’ speaking from glossy studios in polished English/Hindi cannot be trusted, and much worse, cannot be taken at face value. My only regret is that the number of people who realized this is very small.

    • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

      Ketan wrote,

      As I have read, I guess, two articles written by you on the military-industrial complex (MIC), I could almost predict what you had to say at the beginning of your post. But one thing I noticed is that you’ve presumed the US to be a monolithic entity. Meaning, is the US society, just like India’s, not divided into the ‘common people’ & ‘powerful people (politicians & industrialists)’? Do their interests necessarily coincide? {Emphasis added.}

      Let me add to what JP said in response.

      I am not so naive as to believe that nations are monolithic entities. That they are composed of heterogeneous groups goes without saying but even then I mention it from time to time as a reminder. I have been doing that for a long long time. See this from July 1999: Dollar Auctions and Deadly Games.

      Nations are not monolithic entities. They are comprised of groups with different incentives and interests. Even in the so-called developing world there are groups whose interests align more closely with corresponding groups in the advanced industrialized countries. Politicians and arms dealers in poor countries stand to gain as much from conflict escalation as do the owners of the military-industrial complex of the advanced industrialized countries. The crowds who stand at the sidelines and cheer on the combatants are the leaders, the commanders, and the arms manufacturers of all the countries that are in the conflict as well as those that just supply the arms. The average citizens in both the countries stand to lose not just in terms of human lives but also in terms of a lower standard of living necessitated by the hardships imposed on them to pay for the military hardware bought from the AICs.

      I have been harping on that theme for a long time. If you can accuse me of anything, you can accuse me of being consistent in the things that I believe matter, which thankfully is a small set of ideas. Here’s the same theme written in October 2004: The True Weapons of Mass Destruction.

      The rich sell arms to the poor and the poor pay for it through the blood, sweat, and tears of its starving millions. To be sure, it is not the starving millions who are interested in fighting the poor of the neighboring countries. These millions of poor unfortunates are merely the slave labor that supply through their toil goods that the rich buy in exchange for the arms they ship to the armies of the poor nations.

      It is interesting to ask who exactly wants war. Speaking personally, I am against aggression and don’t wish to be the victim nor the perpetrator of aggression. I also believe that the vast majority of people would happily live and let live. So how does it happen that nations arm themselves to the teeth and more often than not beggar their neighbors and themselves in doing so.

      I believe it is so because nations are not monolithic entities. People have different stations in a country. The generals who wage wars and the politicians who direct the ship of state do not have to pay for the wars themselves. The poor have to die on the battle fields and those who are not paid to die, starve on the streets so that their meagre production can be shipped out to pay for the weapons of mass destruction that the leaders of the nation buy for their own amusement.

      The leaders who make the decisions do not feel the pain that the ordinary citizen feels. The leaders are shielded from the effects of their own folly. And so it goes. Now in the Indian subcontinent we have two desperately poor heavily armed hugely overpopulated countries. In time to come it would be hard for people to imagine what was the reason behind this sort of stockpiling of nuclear weapons by such impoverished people. I think that it ceases to be a puzzle when one considers that those who do the stockpiling of nuclear weapons and those who are poor constitute entirely disjoint sets.

      In conclusion, I do not presume nations to be monolithic entities any more than I presume that the world is one monolithic entity.

  • http://ketpan.wordpress.com/ Ketan

    I wrote:

    “within the US soil”. Considering your distaste for bad English, make that “within the US territory” or “on the US soil”! :P

    PS: Reading that blog post about bad English and what you think of it has greatly heightened my hesitation to comment on your posts.

  • Chakram

    damn practical piece. Keep on rocking Atanu.

  • http://idlinginc.blogspot.com/ JP

    you’ve presumed the US to be a monolithic entity.

    Ketan,

    Atanu makes no such claim. :)

    When we talk about countries, we talk at a level of abstraction of government. The fundamental truth is people (common people, as you say) get screwed everywhere. Governments are legalized stealing entities, their sacred duty is to serve the special interest groups. The most important special interest groups are politicians, MIC, financial companies, and all huge corporations. of course there are others and they go by different names in different countries. These special interest groups always benefit no matter what goes on (war, peace, charity, aid, economy growing, economy going down).

  • http://www.indianliberals.org Ashish Deodhar

    Loved it!

    The fact that the governments all over the world are wetting their pants is proof enough that they have a lot to hide. Their repeated attempts of making wikileaks responsible in some way for compromising people and national interests is a very sorry attempt indeed. But come to think of it, I couldn’t have expected any less from them than this.

  • MJ

    I’m just hoping that there is a cable in there that talks about Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi’s true nationality and/or their corruption/money trail. That will be phenomenal for India.