Wikileaks- why I'm not bovvered, well, not that much
While it is understandable that the U.S. Government is freaking out over the whole Wikileaks, what bothers me more is the idea that somehow, “for our own protection” all this material has to be kept secret from the American public at large. This smacks of paternalism of the worst sort. I think the interest in Wikileaks calls to a greater desire for transparency on the part of the government by the people it purports to serve.
Documents like the Downing Street memos, which helped the case for American involvement in the Iraq war through false information are routinely kept secret from the public. Our elected rulers should consider themselves servants of the people, not masters of the people. One of the most deplorable things in our society is how the people are kept in semi-ignorance regarding the true motivations of all the big decisions of government.
For example, the NHS cuts in Britain. Supposedly they're necessary because the government is in debt, but could it also be the Tories trying to push through a privatization agenda, by making the public worried if they don't privatize the NHS the country will go bankrupt? Have other countries managed to hang onto good standards of socialized health in similar financial straits?
I remember, leading up to the war with Iraq that there was so little information given out to the public, that even intelligent members of the public had no idea what the right course of action was. There was a lot of talk about nuclear bombs the size of washing machines and suitcases in the hands of an insane dictator. I remember talking to highly intelligent people, colleuges of my parents, on the eve of the war, who thought the only course available was to remove Saddam, just in case he managed to usher in a nuclear holocaust. I maintained that Kim Il-Jung was a much more dangerous and unbalanced opponent, which is something I still believe. I don't think anyone now believes Saddam had nuclear capabilities, but at the time it was impossible for even well informed citizens to know the truth. Certainly, people of my parents' generation who survived the Cuba Missile Crisis and the Cold War and were raised on horror stories of nuclear annihilation were understandably terrified of the thought.
The point is, an honest government has nothing to fear from something like Wikileaks. But I fear that no government, even a democratic one is completely above board with its people. The dishonesty and half-truths have been part of the political fabric of all nations for so long, we just accept it as something that must exist. Dishonesty is one of the things that turns people off from the democratic process. What's the point of voting, people ask, if its just a choice between the lesser of two liars. One of the things I like about Barack Obama is the fact that he is (in my opinion) one of the more honest candidates of recent years.