Megan McArdle suspects Julian Assange is unwell.
[Assange says,] “In a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. 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 governance.”
Ah. This must be why WikiLeaks has been getting so much material from the governments of China, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea, and why internal documents from Cargill are currently dominating their traffic. Ooops! That was a flash from an alternative universe where what Assange is saying isn’t nonsense. In the real world, he got a bunch of government documents because the US, in its addlepated, well-meaning way, dumped all of them on a network open to 3 million people where they could be seen by a disaffected 23-year old stupid enough to either believe he could get away with this, or not understand how long the years in jail might be.
Theodore Dalrymple on what’s wrong with WikiLeaks.
The actual effect of WikiLeaks is likely to be profound and precisely the opposite of what it supposedly sets out to achieve. Far from making for a more open world, it could make for a much more closed one. Secrecy, or rather the possibility of secrecy, is not the enemy but the precondition of frankness.
[Assange] says that WikiLeaks has “changed two governments, taken the scalp of a prime minister, taken the scalp of a defence minister and [achieved] many other reforms.” Assange doesn’t identify the governments or the two ministers. Perhaps he’s talking about the 2007 election in Kenya, which Assange claims to have influenced by leaking a secret report. Then followed months of deadly violence, with which Assange seems oddly comfortable: “1,300 people were eventually killed, and 350,000 were displaced. That was a result of our leak,” says Assange. It’s a chilling statistic, but then he states: “On the other hand, the Kenyan people had a right to that information and 40,000 children a year die of malaria in Kenya.” So another 1,300 corpses won’t matter much. Tipping an already-volatile African nation into further mayhem might be Assange’s greatest achievement to date.
Christopher Hitchens weighs in.
The WikiLeaks founder is an unscrupulous megalomaniac with a political agenda… All you need to know about Assange is contained in the profile of him by the great John F. Burns and in his shockingly thuggish response to it. The man is plainly a micro-megalomaniac with few if any scruples and an undisguised agenda. As I wrote before, when he says that his aim is “to end two wars,” one knows at once what he means by the “ending.” In his fantasies he is probably some kind of guerrilla warrior, but in the real world he is a middle man and peddler who resents the civilization that nurtured him.
As usual, feel free to add your own.