Wikileaks exposes an empire built on lies

The avalanche of secret US diplomatic cables has raised the rage of world leaders against Julian Assange and Wikileaks to fever pitch. They have launched a concerted international campaign to shut Assange and Wikileaks down—seemingly by whatever means at their disposal.

Details for Solidarity meetings: Why are world leaders so scared of Wikileaks

US defence secretary Robert Gates commented that Assange’s arrest in Britain “sounds like good news to me.”

Likely Republican presidential candidate Sarah Palin called for him to be “hunted down”. “I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty”, said another aspiring Republican nominee, former Arkansas governor Mike Hukabee. The US Attorney General Eric Holder has announced “an active, ongoing criminal investigation” to find a way to charge him under the Espionage Act. And if that fails he promised the US government would, “swiftly close the gaps in current US legislation…”

Corporations including Visa, Amazon, Mastercard and PayPal have been pressured to black ban the Wikileaks website, and the Swedish government has frozen Assange’s funds. China and the United Arab Emirates have banned the web site altogether. Not to be outdone Prime Minister Julia Gillard has labelled Assange “guilty of illegality” and Wikileaks’ document release “grossly irresponsible”.The campaign by the US against Wikileaks shows how desperate they are to cover up lies about US wars and atrocities

This represents a flagrant attack on freedom of speech and press freedom. Wikileaks has done no more than the media outlets it works with, including the New York Times and the British Guardian—publish information from a whistleblower. The US’s outrage about the leaks shows the desperation of the world’s biggest imperial power to cover up the lies about US foreign policy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The attempt to extradite Assange to Sweden carries the danger of him being handed over to the US. The Sydney Morning Herald says the fear of legal sources in Britain is that, “if he is extradited they will send him to America and he will disappear”. Assange is an Australian citizen. We must protest and speak out to put whatever possible pressure on the Australian government to make sure this does not happen.

What has Wikileaks revealed?
Many of the diplomatic cables have been dismissed as gossip. But they tell us a great deal about American methods of diplomacy—and paint the picture of a ruthless bully.
Hillary Clinton ordered American officials not just to conduct spying at the UN in breach of international treaties, but to steal the computer passwords, bank details and frequent flyer numbers of foreign officials and UN staff.

It forced Germany to drop plans to prosecute CIA officers who kidnapped an innocent German civilian, who was then detained for months in Afghanistan.

Wikileaks’ earlier war logs revealed further horrific evidence about the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of the information was already known or strongly suspected. But it has reinforced for millions that these are brutal wars for US power that have nothing to do with human rights or democracy.
Wikileaks provided evidence of hundreds of previously unreported civilian killings, use of torture and sectarian militias in Iraq, and in Afghanistan a secret US assassination squad and the shooting of dozens of unarmed protesters.

Why are world leaders so scared?
The rage and horror of top US government officials, and their allies like the Australian government, is not simply at the current leaks, but the threat to their capacity to keep secrets itself.

The bloody history of US foreign policy is littered with lies it wanted kept secret. In 1964 the US concocted claims it had been fired on by the North Vietnamese in the “Gulf of Tonkin incident” as an excuse to launch open warfare in Vietnam. Its claim that the use of nuclear weapons on Japan in 1945 was necessary to end the war was a lie, since it knew Japan was about to surrender.

These were lies the US needed to keep secret, not just from foreign governments, but from their own people.
The US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were efforts to boost US power. But the people who were meant to end up in control of Iraqi oil were not the majority of the American population, but the giant US oil companies. Companies like Halliburton that profiteered off “reconstruction” were in it to line their own pockets.

Wars are launched by states in the interests of corporations and the rich. They justify this with lies about fighting for democracy or freedom so workers will sacrifice on the front lines and in the factories. The people who run society profit off the exploitation of ordinary working people in their own country, and use the state to defend their power abroad. The majority of us have no interest in fighting their wars.

As the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky wrote, “Secret diplomacy is a necessary tool for a propertied minority which is compelled to deceive the majority in order to subject it to its interests.” The more of those secrets and lies that are public, the harder it will be for them to justify their wars and atrocities in the future.


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