Monday, February 7, 2011

Wikileaks: An Argument For

For the past two years Wikileaks has been constant thorn in the side of states revealing sensitive information regarding  various states foreign policy from secret videos depicting cold blooded murder of innocents to embarrassing documents revealing the dichotomy between what is said and what is thought by state leaders and other key players in foreign policy.  If Wikileaks has done anything, it has made the job of state leaders, and more directly the job of the diplomat, more torturous than it would be it if it didnt exist. Wikileaks has exceeded where 'old media' has largely failed, it has actually posed a challenge by making it difficult for those in power to create narratives in order to frame debate.

In the past, states had a iron grip over the flow of information the citizens would be exposed to, this would be useful in war time as the control of media sources, coupled with patriotic nature of the public at large, would ensure very few leaks and very few embarrassing revelations regarding state policy. However after world war two and more remarkably during the vietnam war, this control of the flow of information in relation to state policy dramatically weakened with famous leaks exposing the systematic violence of american troops and the long term trajectory of state policy in regional centers, making pariahs, and later heroes, of Daniel Ellsberg and Seymour Hersh. 

Vietnam was the first war where the state could not control the flow of information regarding the public and the wider world as state policy was not only a question of politics but of culture. this context ensured that the vietnam war was the first war where citizens across the globe protested the actions of states in war as media reports and visuals of  american troops and the vietnamese bloodied and deceased  reaching the mass audience shattered illusions associated with World War Two of the 'good war', bringing home the bloody nature of war. this can explain the trend through the preceding years of the increase in the lack of trust of state in regards to foreign and domestic policy confirmed by numerous scandals, the watergate scandal being most prominent. 

through the 80's and 90's, changes in how information is received and thus how it is accessed within two decades democratized the dissemination of information forever with release of the personal computer and the discovery of the internet for mass consumption. Now in our current age those in power have watch every utterance of opinion on state policy as the reverence once given to state officials no longer exist as the politics of future in which politicians proposed a picture of what society could be as the modern politician is much more practical, and as a by-product, that more untrustworthy. Wikileaks , represents the spirit that still resides from vietnam in relation to states and their foreign policy. 

The narratives offered by state officials, with the onset of 'transparency' programs offered by governments via the internet, can be countered  with facts and figures that reveals it as false. Misconceptions of the public regarding the state of international politics can be corrected by a simple click of a mouse, the information revealed can lead to movements that advocate change in the current state of affairs, in short, Wikileaks offer the citizen, on a global scale, the means in which to hold power to account.            

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