Three things I found interesting

I’m processing (that’s a euphemism for “paying”) bills, which is hogging a ridiculous amount of the space in my head.  Nevertheless, there are three things I wanted to bring to your attention.

First, you’ve probably heard already that Obama, as part of his proposal to cut military spending, is slashing military health benefits, even while leaving civilian health benefits untouched.  All the obvious stuff about his animus towards the military and his effort to steer military personnel into the ObamaCare scheme has already been said.  My thoughts headed in a different direction.  One of the things that happens every election is that the Secretaries of State in Democrat strongholds somehow can’t get their act together so as to get timely absentee ballots to the military.  When I read a report saying that the military is less monolithically Republican than everyone (including those Secretaries of State) had assumed, I wondered if that would speed up the absentee ballot process.  Now, I’m thinking that the military will be lucky if it gets its absentee ballots by 2013.

Wikileaks is now publishing Stratfor emails.  Stratfor is responding by suggesting that a lot of the material being published has been falsified, but is refusing to comment as to any of it.  I think this is a smart tactic, since it induces a note of doubt about the reliability of any of this stolen material.  As far as I know, Stratfor deals only with publicly available information, from which it draws its conclusions.  However, to the extent that its clients provide it with information in their requests for services, this is a devastating commercial blow, not just to Stratfor, but to corporations around the world.

AIDS isn’t a naturally occurring biological phenomenon.  AIDS also isn’t a product of historically anomalous rates of promiscuity and intravenous drug use that allowed it to spread throughout the Western world with unstoppable force in the early 1980s.  Nope.  AIDS is the fault of Western Colonialism.  But you knew that, didn’t you?

Please feel free to add in your comments anything you find interesting.

The bodyguard of lies

A lot of what came out in Wikileaks was, essentially, gossip and speculation.  Some of what came out, however, was hard, dangerous fact — such as the State Department’s gathering information about vulnerable American sites around the world, sites now known to anyone who reads Wikileaks.

Deroy Murdock writes about one other hard fact:  the fact that, during war time (and we are at war), a military must have its secrets.

Of course, Assange knows this.  He’s weird, but he’s not stupid.  He doesn’t want us to win this war.

Wikileaks

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.

Wikileaks — obvious, yet still dangerous, stuff spread by wicked people and useful idiots *UPDATED*

I haven’t had time (nor do I have the will) to pay close attention to the myriad revelations in the Wikileaks documents.  My overall sense, though, is that, fact-wise, there is nothing new here — or, at least, nothing new to those of us paying attention.  All of us at Bookworm Room have known that Saudi Arabia is terrified of a nuclear Iran, and I’ve posited for years that this fear would drive the non-nuclearized Arab nations closer to Israel.  For all their huffery and puffery, the Arabs have always known that Israel will not use the bomb unless provoked, whereas they fully understand that a nuclear Iran is a truly armed and dangerous rogue nation.

Speaking of rogue nations, we have also known that China has happily provided nuclear technology to any bad actor willing to pay for it.  Nothing new here.  Move along.  Don’t crowd the sidewalk.

The fact that the Wikileaks material is factually uninteresting, though, doesn’t change its spectacular capacity for being damaging.  Max Boot, I think, puts it as well as anyone can, in a post telling titled “Journalism that knows no shame“:

One can understand if the editors of the New York Times, Guardian, and Der Spiegel have no respect for the secrecy needed to wage war successfully — especially unpopular wars like those in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are, after all, the sorts of people who, over a few drinks, would no doubt tell you that diplomacy is far preferable to war-making. But it seems that they have no respect for the secrecy that must accompany successful diplomacy either. That, at least, is the only conclusion I can draw from their decision to once again collaborate with an accused rapist to publicize a giant batch of stolen State Department cables gathered by his disreputable organization, WikiLeaks.

I risk sounding like a stuffy, striped-pants diplomat myself if I say that the conduct of all concerned is reprehensible and beneath contempt. But that’s what it is, especially because the news value of the leaks is once again negligible. As with the previous releases of military reports, the WikiLeaks files only fill in details about what has generally already been known. Those details have the potential to cause acute embarrassment — or even end the lives of — those who have communicated with American soldiers or officials, but they do little to help the general public to understand what’s going on.

I urge you to read the whole thing.

In a way, these leaks give new meaning to Hannah Arendt’s famous phrase, “the banality of evil.”  She was talking about the horrible ordinariness of the Nazis, who clung to their middle class lives even as they engaged in unparalleled atrocities.  These leaks are a different banal evil:  even though the information released is known (Saudi fear of Iran) or stupid (e.g., Qaddafi’s blond nurse), making it mostly banal, the profound damage that results from these leaks (the deaths, the national humiliations, the destruction of necessary diplomatic ignorance) is profoundly evil.

I join with others in wondering why Assange is still alive.  I’m willing to bet, though, that now that it’s not just the Americans being humiliated, Assange’s days are numbered.

By the way, if you want more information about the leak’s contents and the security implications (worldwide) arising from the leaks, as well as links to good articles on the subject, you can’t do better than Melissa Clouthier’s post.

UPDATE:  A reminder that the newspapers aren’t utterly without morals or decency.  While they don’t want to exercise it when national security is at issue, they were happy to exercise it when climate change fraud was under legitimate attack.

UPDATE II:  Two excellent articles from Barry Rubin about Wikileaks.  As always, his optimism — allied with actual facts and sound analysis — is a useful antidote to the gloom and doom that characterizes most other writing on just about any subject.  Check out Spengler too.

UPDATE II:  Another “check it out” is Omri Ceren’s post on Israel and Iran as seen through the Wikileaks — and just how wrong the Obama administration was.  (As if that’s a big surprise.)

WikiLeaks: Everything you always wanted to know about the New York Times, but thought might make you sick

If you haven’t already, please read Steve Schippert’s guest post on this blog about the animating anti-American forces driving WikiLeaks.  If you don’t have time to click on over, here’s the money quote:

Wikileaks is a small cabal of people who, in their own site description, “Publishes and comments on leaked documents alleging government and corporate misconduct.”

In reality, what they are is a like-minded gathering of hardcore Leftists who see their greatest enemies and threats as the American military and intelligence coupled with free market capitalism.

Then get a load of the New York Times front page.   I’ve captured most of the slide show screen shots that automatically rotate across the page (click on thumbnails to see full size):

For more on WikiLeaks, Greyhawk has some posts here, here, here and here.