Monday, August 23, 2010

More on whistleblowers!

You may have read about the latest twist in the WikiLeaks saga. Julian Assange (the WikiLeaks founder and principle operator) had been accused by someone, unnamed, of rape, in Sweden. Swedish prosecutors have now said that Julian Assange was not suspected of rape in Sweden and was no longer wanted for questioning.

It seems a bit of a co-incidence that this charge should suddenly appear at the same time the American’s are very anxious to shut down the WikiLeaks site as it is drawing unwelcome attention, shall we say, to a few moral shortcomings in the American intelligence and armed forces. I wonder which CIA backroom boy thought up this latest ploy?

The American’s cannot say, from any moral “high ground”, that Wikileaks disclosures may possibly cause the loss of life of supporters of the USA when, because of the invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent breakdown of law and order, an unknown number (but believed to be greater than 600 000) people, many innocent, have been killed in factional fighting and suicide bomb blasts. Similarly in Afghanistan, where a desperately dysfunctional and possibly corrupt government is in “control” and where many thousand s of people, (many innocent) have been killed.

Go back a few years – who financed, trained and armed the Taliban? The Americans in the guise of the CIA. I know that the American’s chose to do this to cause maximum problems for the Soviets who were then trying to occupy and subdue Afghanistan. In this they succeeded but at what cost?? Did anyone think the whole thing through to any possible end-game? The Afghani are a tough and resilient people. They resent and have fought off ALL invaders – from Alexander the Great to the Russians. What did the American’s expect, an open arm welcome? Why should the Afghani react any differently now?

Historically many (if not all) wars have been determined to be nothing but pointless exercises in self aggrandisement of some leader somewhere and at sometime. No one “wins” a war – all participants are “losers”. Everyone suffers and humanity is diminished in the prosecution of the war. Any exposure of illegal, immoral and exploitative behaviour needs to be supported and encouraged. Such activities can never be justified. They are always wrong.

Think of any war you care to name, led by any general or national leader you can think of –First World War or the Second World War; and the wars in Korea: Vietnam; India and Pakistan; Israel and the Arab countries in the Middle East; Iraq’s invasion of Iran; the invasion of Iraq; and then some of the famous/infamous people who initiated conflicts - Alexander the Great; Napoleon; Hitler; Tojo (Japan) – is the world better off and a safer place because these people, as leaders of the various countries, engaged in war? I don’t think so. So why fight at all?

What makes the current situation ethically more problematical, in Afghanistan, is the American’s widespread use of what they call “private contractors”. I would call them mercenaries, or in old fashioned terms “soldiers of fortune”. They are not accountable to anyone. Remember the Blackwater fiasco in Iraq when a number of these “private contractors” shot and killed innocent civilians? As far as I can establish none of those involved was ever brought to justice.

A war cannot be fought in secret. A war affects millions of people and those people have a right to know, and the governments concerned an obligation to explain, what they are doing and why. Trying to avoid the issue or to lie about what is going only causes confusion and distrust. This is why we need whistleblowers and why I believe that those sources of information, such as Wikileaks, and others, are essential if the world is not to descend into anarchy. People, leaders, must be made accountable for their actions. If they will not come clean about what they are doing and why, then exposure through whistle blowing is the only way.

The trouble is leaders (and people in general) do not like being exposed and shown, for all to see, what they have been up to. This is why whistleblowers are condemned by governments and big business rather than supported. The condemnation of whistleblowers may take the form of the false accusations that lead this article. This may quite easily lead to the bizarre situation where we would need a whistleblower to expose the government that is accusing whistleblowers of making false accusations!! But if whistleblowers did not exist how would we find out what the issues are that affect us all (as in a global sense) and what we should do about them?

It would be much better for all concerned if people and governments just told the truth!

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