I have been, I suppose, almost remarkably silent about the whole wikileaks fiasco. The data drop is of such enormous proportions, it’s actually difficult for me to process all the implications. I have, however, got a laundry list in mind of some conclusions to be drawn and some of the things it means, which I’ll just drop here in no particular order.
1. This is truly Pandora’s box. Once opened, it cannot be closed again. This does not mean, however, that the U.S. government should do what it is doing regarding Assange — namely, nothing. If he is allowed to get away with this, the U.S. will have given carte blanche to other, similarly situated anti-U.S. anarchists. The purpose of punishment, after all, isn’t simply to make the wrong-doer suffer; it’s also to serve as a grim deterrent for others contemplating the same type of action. Dragging Assange back to Sweden to face pseudo-rape charges (pseudo because of Sweden’s bizarre rape laws) scarcely suits anyone’s notion of the punishment fitting the crime.
2. To switch metaphors, I’ll abandon Pandora, and move to Rorschach. If nothing else, the way different people have latched onto the documents is a fascinating insight into their political, social and economic desires. To conservatives, the documents vindicate long-held beliefs about Iran; about the fear it inspires in the Arab world; about the Obama administration’s ineptitude; about Hillary’s bungling and deviousness; about Israel’s intelligent navigation of impossibly difficult situations; etc. To liberals, it proves that the U.S. is evil and addicted to oil. (That last is from Tom Friedman, who’s been repeating the same trope for more than a decade, even as he cheers on cutting off any avenues to oil independence, such as domestic drilling or nuclear power.) To the Arab world, it is, of course, all the Joooos’ fault, as is everything. Gosh, if only the Jews had more fun and got better press from their omnipotence.
3. The leaks are undoubtedly evil. People who have helped America are now at risk. People who might have helped America (thereby saving American and allied lives) will refuse to do so. America’s vulnerabilities around the world now have big targets drawn on them. We can assume that the next round of leaks will be even more damaging. Assange has been consistently upping the ante, and rumor has it that the next leaks will involve Gitmo and other topics near and dear to America-haters’ hearts.
4. All of the above means that this is a game-changer. Much as it is tempting to assume that governments and people around the world, out of long-term self-defense, will adopt an ostrich strategy and try to pretend none of this happened (much as one would ignore a loud burp at a fancy dinner party), the implications are too extreme. Assange has proven that there is no information that can truly be protected (and that’s a comforting thought in an ObamaCare age, isn’t it?). The “bodyguard of lies” that surrounds our nation’s — indeed, all nations’ — national security has been massacred. It no longer exists. We now live in a binary world that sees either no secrets or only secrets, both of which are equally dangerous to freedom and security.