Letter to Uncle Sam
Happily so, there has been no worldwide condemnation of the WikiLeaks surreptitious well-documented revelations contained in the files of what are now known as the US Embassy Cables.
True it is, these revelations have certainly caused some sort of embarrassment to those directly concerned, meaning to the authors of the various cables, a few foreign dignitaries, including political leaders and diplomats, and lastly, we take note that the WikiLeaks saga has, above all things, put DC on high alert if we are to judge by the words of condemnation uttered there.
Third, what about the world media? Uncle, we don’t know of any self-respecting newsroom, to put it in your words, which has not given a big round of applause as this serial started to unfold.
But Uncle, there is one breaking news event that the world is waiting for, and most probably, you will be among the first to applaud Julian Assange within the secret walls of the Oval Office. This relates to the promise that 2011 will start on a good note — that is the release of documents and information pertaining to big names in the banking sector. We know how enthusiastic you are when it comes to Wall Street’s financial predators. By the way, no person on earth will feel unhappy when he/she will learn what Wall Street has been saying in public and what it has actually been doing in private.
For your information, great little Mauritius is ahead of the US in one aspect of a more or less similar case. In fact, our country has, on a few occasions, already enjoyed the excitement contained in such corporate financial revelations with our own “caisse noire” episode at MK, moving on to an MK-MCB affair, followed by the MCB mega fraud wherein one Mauritius-born UK citizen has been at the heart of the whole financial drama. The good thing is that, in contrast to New York’s Bernard Madoff, our London boy has been able to escape any lawsuit, for inability to stand trial due to health complications, including memory failure.
Coming back to the WikiLeaks promise, we hold the view that governments and peoples worldwide would be in a better position, this January fall, to admire the savoir faire of Wall Street in the matter of banking and international finance.
Uncle, we know that you are very good at debating and that you always come prepared to face any situation. For the sake of debate then, how the US authorities would have acted and reacted had the US Embassy Cables found their way not to Assange’s Wikileaks but in the hands of Bob at the Washington Post, protected as he is by the First Amendment to the US Constitution? What type of deal would the authorities have hatched up, not excluding securing a gagging order from the US Court, to prevent Bob from going ahead as did Wikileaks? Would the political establishment have given Bob the same treatment as the one being inflicted on Julian Assange? These are commonsense questions that are being asked here.
Decades ago, students attending journalism courses in respected institutions abroad were taught that “information is power”. And lecturers would add their own pinch of salt to the effect that public information (meaning information published by the media) participates in the life of democracies in the sense that such information can help change the course of policies where they are contrary to the common good. As such, publicised information can evoke a series of reactions from the public, ranging from good to bad, depending on the nature of the subject. Remember Watergate and its consequences! If Watergate is too far away, then you could google-search airmauritius.com!
In this sense, Uncle, we should expect that the Wikileaks saga would force a few policy changes, including how to maintain security in the transmission of classified information. Already, we know how the technological revolution in IT has changed news dissemination worldwide and how the democratisation of information (a sister companion of our economic democratisation agenda here in Mauritius) is now transforming the way we live, work and behave. And how governments, the corporate world and populations worldwide are being forced to adapt to these sets of new realities and circumstances.
The US and the world, rightly so, are working hard to avoid nuclear weapons and nuclear intelligence falling into the hands of terrorists’ networks or states working to achieve everything, except world peace.
But those behind the development of IT technology were not able to apprehend fully the use that could be made of it in case it fell into the wrong hands. The internet has already proved, beyond any reasonable doubt, that it also has the capacity to cause mass destruction even if, as per the customs code, it is classified not as a weapon of mass destruction but only as a tool to enhance productivity within enterprises and across the corporate world. You still remember how your campaign team used IT technology to enhance the visibility of your message through the long fought battle to the White House.
In any case, Uncle, the world can work to rid Mother Earth of all nuclear weapons, still life will go on. But it won’t be able to stop the progress of IT technology or suppress its existence. Just think about life without your blackberry, Uncle!
Julian Assange may be bad, but he has done nothing bad.
If the Cold War were still this century’s reality, Julian Assange would have been tagged as the most dangerous Communist Enemy. He would have appeared on top hit list of the CIA qualified by these words in all US Embassy Cables – Wanted: Dead or Alive!
But in today’s world, Assange risks three things – being charged a rapist, or having close ties with the enemies of the US, meaning the terrorists’ networks or a public danger to the corporate elite governing the world.
To end, Uncle, and on behalf of folks over here, we sincerely thank the authors of the US Embassy Cables for having very clearly established the diplomatic hara kiri over Diego Garcia, a territory which was and remains part and parcel of the Republic of Mauritius.
Here, they use a French word to describe the London Boys, George’s best post 9/11 ally – “hypocrites”. It’s a parliamentary compatible word, both in Port Louis and Paris. And thus it can be allowed in future Cables.
* Published in print edition on 17 December 2010