One might have supposed
that a principal preoccupation of intellectuals
would be the maintenance of the boundaries that separate civilization from barbarism, since those boundaries have so often proved so flimsy in the past hundred years. One would be wrong to suppose any such thing, however.
(Theodore Dalrymple, Our Culture, Whats Left of it: The Mandarins and the Masses, 2005. p.x)
The fallout from the publication of hundreds of thousands of U.S. classified cables and other documents, masterminded by the Australian Julian Assange, has again exposed the radical split within American society.
The outlines of this story are now well known. A former lowly private, 22-year old Bradley Manning, who had security clearance to two high-security networks, downloaded a massive number of Microsoft email files and sent them on to Julian Assange. To hide this theft, he then erased the server logs that would have tracked his move.
When a 29-year old Californian hacker who befriended Manning, realized what was happening, he reported his findings to the authorities. Without the decisive action of Lamo, Mannings secrets might have taken a lot longer to be discovered.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has dawdled and let months go by without taking any firm action. Attorney General Eric Holder was reduced to pleading with the New York Times to refrain from publishing the stolen documents. The Times editors ignored his pleas and published the documents anyway, claiming that they were doing so out of respect for the publics right to know.
Fear and Paranoia
Julian Assange founded Wikileaks in 2006 and has since published large bundles of information about a number of events to the embarrassment of the targeted authorities in various countries, but his main target is America because he thinks that it is a force for evil in the world and must be stopped.
In a 2006 essay Assange wrote To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must think beyond those who have gone before us and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not.
In the same year he wrote in his blog, the more secretive or unjust an organisation is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie
. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of government.
The leaked documents inflicted huge damage on the American war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan because it gave away secret information that the enemy can use to its advantage. In addition, it identified people who have supported the American-led military effort, who now have reasons to fear for their lives.
John F. Burns reported ( NYT, Oct. 23, 2010 ) that the Taliban has formed a nine-member commission following Wikileaks posting of the Afghan documents to find about people who are spying. A Taliban spokesman said that they had a wanted list of 1,800 Afghans which they are comparing with the names on the Wikileaks. He explained: After the process is completed, our Taliban court will decide about such people. Those are chilling words that will strike fear into the hearts of those targeted.
Saboteurs at Work
The exposure of key information about the war effort and identifying pro-American local citizens have seriously handicapped the U.S military action . In late November 2010, Wikileaks released thousands more secret documents about the Iraq war and 250,000 diplomatic cables. The damage inflicted on America and its allies is fourfold.
One. The publication of diplomatic cables has shown that Americans cannot be trusted, and it will be much harder for them to collect and share information with other countries.
Two. They have exposed friendly locals to the wrath of the Taliban and Iraqi killers, which in many cases will cost them their lives. The fear of such retribution will in turn make it nearly impossible to gain the support of the local population without which no war can be won.
Three. These documents have given away information about many aspects of the military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq that benefits the enemy. The tactical benefits of such information will cost our troops dearly; more of our soldiers will die.
Four. The incompetence and confusion shown by the Obama administration in the handling of this crisis cannot but eat away at the morale of the soldiers fighting and dying on the front lines.
It cannot escape notice that the Obama administration has not treated this attack on America --that is what Manning and Assange have in mind with the determination and insight it deserves.
Here is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attempting a joke: I am writing a cable about it, which I am sure youll soon find on your closest website. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs downplayed this issue: We should never be afraid of one guy who popped down thirty-five dollars and bought a web address.
The Obama administration lack of vigorous reaction to this attack on the U.S. leaves some troubling questions. Presumably, its lackluster response intended to downplay the meaning of this attack, but does such not send a signal of weakness and indecision to the enemies of America? And is it not the first duty of Commander- in-Chief to make it very clear that treason will not be tolerated, and that the cyber war now underway calls for much more creative measures to protect classified information.
Charles Krauthammer, a keen observer of American politics, is appalled that America, a world power, appears to be powerless to protect its own secrets. He thinks that Wikileaks sabotage amounts to treason, which should be prosecuted with all the means available to the American judiciary. He wonders, Where is the Justice Department? (JWR, Dec. 3, 2010)
The Wikileaks perpetrators have found a famous ally in the now 79-year-old Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked the secret Pentagon Papers, a move that severely sabotaged the efforts of the American side in the Vietnam War. Ellsberg said that he considers Julian Assange and Bradley Manning kindred spirits and praises them for being willing to risk imprisonment and even death for leaking these papers. He stated: Ive been waiting 40 years for someone to disclose information on a scale that might really make a difference.
What sort of difference is Ellsberg talking about? What does Julian Assange mean by a radial shift in regime behavior by creating fear and paranoia within the leadership of nations that leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who want to replace them with more open forms of government ?
The Call to Revolution
Let me interpret bluntly. This is nothing but a call to revolution; Off with their heads. Western democracies, especially the U. S. are so corrupt and dangerous that they are beyond improvement. They must be destroyed by extra-legal means of force and intimidation. In other words, bring on the revolution first by creating chaos that induces fear and helplessness among the population. Then in the confusion there will be the opportunity to create an entirely different society led by those in the know about building a new society of justice, equality and peace.(See Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals, 1971. See also The Coming Insurrection, by The Invisible Committee, 2009.)
Impossible, you say. Such things would never happen here. I would not be so sure. The signs are everywhere in the trampling of tradition, waning respect for standards of loyalty, integrity, honesty, and simple gestures of everyday civility; in the rise of the nanny state; and especially in the decline of educational institutions, which in league with the mainstream media, have turned themselves into molders of political correctness.
To be sure, there are still many people who lead exemplary lives. Their numbers may be declining, but there are still faithful husbands and wives, loyal citizens, honest businessmen, responsible children, loyal friends, and so on.
This is the good news, and we should never underrate the positive impact of daily of kindness and civic virtue. The bad news is that such virtuous acts are mostly limited to the private sphere, while Western society in general is being battered by ideologies of destruction and revolution.
Wherever you now look, especially in the culture-shaping institutions such as the academy and the media, we see the predominance of a mindset that ridicules the idea that humans are responsible to a higher authority. In fact, the spirit of our age (Zeitgeist) rejects all boundaries and limits, except those we design ourselves. That leaves the door wide open for all manner of anarchistic and barbarian ideologies.
We can see the bitter fruit of these ideas when we watch angry crowds rioting in the cities not only in Egypt and other Arab countries, but also in Canada and the U.S. There are people who are determined to cause maximum social and political chaos because they think the West is corrupt and evil and needs to undergo a total revolution. Such movements get a fresh dose of oxygen in times of change and uncertainty such a time as this. Wikileaks fits into that category.
Signs of the Time
Remember that revolutions are mostly accomplished by minorities led by cunning and ruthless demagogues. The ironic predicament now facing the Western democracies is that the attributes of democracy can easily be perverted to destroy democracy from within. (See James Burnham, Suicide of the West, 1964.)
Further note that all world-transforming revolutions have two things in common. First, they are marked by a virulent hatred of the Judeo-Christian faith. Second, they are accompanied by the destruction of a free press, which is then replaced by a state-run propaganda machine.
Reading the signs of our time, I believe that we are on the threshold of massive changes in every aspect of our lives, not unlike the 1930s. Its often the poets and the dreamers who sense what is coming. One such person was William Butler Yeats ( 1865-1939 ) who wrote a haunting poem, The Second Coming, from which I quote a few lines:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
It is tempting to feel hopeless about what seem to be unstoppable forces of chaos and destruction.
But then we should remember that in a real sense the centre is holding because Jesus has come into this world not to condemn it but to save it. (John 3:17) This is also why he tells us to pay attention to the signs of our times, so we are not clueless in a world of turmoil and confusion.(Matthew 16:3)
This world does confront us with evil and its heartbreaking consequences, which are overwhelming and totally beyond our abilities. But they are not beyond the Christ who came to take away the sin of the world. Therefore we may live in hope and believe this extravagant promise: I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20)