The lead in this morning’s Melbourne Age read: “Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is an abrasive, impulsive ‘control freak” who presided over a series of foreign policy blunders during his time as prime minister.” This is attributed to US diplomatic cables between Canberra and Washington filtered from the virtual tonnage of such cables released through WikiLeaks.
How strange it was of the Fairfax press to lend such prominence to a revelation that Australians were already aware of. If Assange has dumped a mountain of drivel on a world already suffering from information overload, I would have hoped that a responsible press could be trusted to comb through the dross and print items of public interest, omitting the trivial (and perhaps items genuinely threatening world peace.)
This consummate piece of intelligence sums up the value of WikiLeaks latest mass production. The diplomatic cables contain gossip, innuendo and opinion. The bureaucratic writers are salaried to provide such trite minutiae to the next level in their political hierarchies.
But the biggest international threat they contain is mere embarrassment. Little compares to the reaction of an embarrassed American public servant but they get over it – look at the Bay of Pigs misadventure; J. Edgar Hoover’s cross-dressing; Presidential semen on an intern’s dress; the 2000 election; Dubya vomiting his sushi at a dinner in Tokyo and all that before I even get to Dan Quale!
I support what Assange is doing just as I approve of investigative journalism and endorse freedom of speech. Earlier exposure of American human rights abuses in Iraq and the forthcoming release of corporate abuses and corruption are essential to democracy and I laud their publication.
The US hysteria from ‘Cablegate’ (goodness, did I forget Nixon? I must have gotten over it) is superfluous and de trop but men have been shot for less than causing embarrassment. Some Americans are promoting what sounds suspiciously like a fatwa of the Khomeini variety. No doubt that ordinary US citizens are as horrified as I am by such ugly bombast, but for Assange it is a very real hazard. Watch this space.
How easily the land of the lofty and boastful First Amendment overlooks that Assange is practicing freedom of speech. With similar ease it has consigned to amnesiac oblivion that the leaks emanated from an American in the first place.
As for the opening comments describing our former Prime Minister, any contemporary historian would use the exact same words to accurately describe Winston Churchill. You’re in good company, Kev.