Wikileaks: A call to struggle against empire

Sign the petition:"Truth is a crime in an empire of lies: Defend Wikileaks".

By Andrea Pason and Billy Wharton

December 4, 2010 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – Running an empire produces many nasty habits, habits that lead you to treat people, nations, assets and the environment as objects upon which to project your own power. The US government runs such an empire. As a result, innocent people die, the environment is ravaged and funds that could have been used to meet human needs have been fed into an insatiable military industrial complex. This has long been known by the socialist left and now, with the release and publication of secret US diplomatic messages, Wikileaks has made it visible to the entire world.

The more than 250,000 messages map out the complex interconnections of a US empire managed by a murky group of diplomats, secret agents and military personnel. They document scandalous acts such as the horse-trading of human beings for diplomatic access, the plotting of the pay-offs necessary after the demise of North Korea and the employing of diplomatic muscle to shield intelligence agents from criminal prosecution. All of these acts are part of the everyday reality created by US imperial dominance.

The Wikileaks documents shed particular light on the ongoing scandal surrounding the illegal prison camp operated out of Guantanamo Bay. President Barack Obama’s State Department engaged in a dehumanising game of attempting to trade prisoners for diplomatic access. For instance, a letter sent to the government of Slovenia made it clear that access to President Obama was contingent on that country accepting a Guantanamo prisoner. Similarly, US diplomats promised Belgium the ability “to attain prominence in Europe”, if they accepted prisoners.

No wonder then that the Obama administration has entirely reneged on its campaign promise to close the Guantanamo facility. As if the torture that occurred there was not enough of a human rights violation, the prison’s inhabitants are now pawns in a global game of horse-trading in which the US attempts to impose its will through implicit threats and the withholding of access. This gives an entirely new light to the old Marxist maxim that capitalism doesn’t solve problems, it just moves them around. In this case, imperial hubris sponsored hopes that the dispersal of prisoners throughout the world might solve the massive rights violation that is Guantanamo Bay.

An episode in Germany is equally sinister and offers even more insights into how the empire operates. There, Central Intelligence Agency agents snatched up a German citizen and summarily extradited him to a jail in Afghanistan where he was detained for months. Problem is, the CIA had the right name but the wrong person. After German officials drew up arrest warrants for the responsible agents, US diplomats issued a series of sharp threats to the German government to prevent the arrests. The well-oiled machine of Imperialism went into motion. When the stealth side is threatened, the legal side comes to the rescue.

And what is the outcome of the expensive, violent and secretive operation of the US empire? 925 million people in the world people who do not have enough to eat. One out of four children – roughly 146 million – in developing countries are left underweight. 12 million children under the age of 18 in sub-Saharan Africa are orphaned because of HIV/AIDS. The global arms trade is nearly US$60 billion each year. The global proliferation of nuclear weapons is growing. And, perhaps most important, while 1.2 billion people are obliged to survive on $1.25 a day, there are almost 500 billionaires worldwide. The system of US empire serves to protect these deep inequalities of capitalism and, in the process, endangers the very existence of billions of people every day.

The latest Wikileaks revelations should be a call to action for all Americans. It is time to tear down the empire that has been created in their name. Two tasks are first and foremost. We need to create a vibrant movement to end the wars being waged in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. No more occupations, no more military surges and no more drone attacks. Simultaneously, we must demand that the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay be closed immediately. Achieving such demands will open a political space to more directly challenge the centre of the military industrial complex by calling for an immediate reduction of the military budget by 50% and the closing of all US military bases abroad.

As democratic socialists, we imagine another society, where the great wealth this world produces is put to use to meet human needs. Such a world would not need the secret cloak that covers the operations of the US empire. It would, instead, be based on notions that seem very distant from our current reality – democracy, free association and self-determination. We think that democratic socialism holds the potential to live up to these lofty ideals. Let the Wikileaks disclosures provide the motivation for you to join in this struggle.

[Andrea Pason and Billy Wharton are co-chairs Socialist Party USA.]

Green Left Weekly: We have a right to know

Julian Assange.
December 5, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange have made some powerful enemies. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has accused Wikileaks of putting the world in danger and Australian PM Julia Gillard has said its activities are illegal.

In the US, Wikileaks has been denounced as a terrorist organisation and there have been calls for Assange to be either prosecuted, kidnapped or simply assassinated.

This has not just been in the ravings of far-right Fox News shock jocks, but from media and prominent politicians across the mainstream political spectrum. A former adviser to Canadian PM Stephen Harper suggested killing him (and presumably anyone close by) with a drone strike.

US officials are preparing a prosecution under the Espionage Act and the US Congress is preparing legislation designed specifically to stop Wikileaks.

The liberal media have held forth that Wikileaks’ “irresponsible” revelations have harmed diplomacy and endangered lives. They accuse Wikileaks of going beyond the acceptable limits of investigative journalism.

Yet Wikileaks is doing precisely what investigative journalists are supposed to do, but generally don’t. It has exposed abuses of power that hide behind the veil of government secrecy.

It is the US government’s spying on UN officials and diplomats that is illegal, not Wikileaks’ exposure of it.

Likewise, the catalogue of illegal abductions and torture, war crimes, corruption and subversions of democracy revealed by Wikileaks shows criminality on the part of the US and other governments.

This is why they are now baying for Assange’s blood.

The notion — promoted by “responsible” journalists — that secrecy is a necessary part of diplomacy is profoundly undemocratic.

Far from endangering lives, Wikileaks’ revelations put a spotlight on the appalling loss and destruction of life that is routinely hidden by western governments.

One revelation — that the US knew, while pretending not to know, the extent of the Sri Lankan state’s violence against Tamils during and after the 2009 military offensive — is enough to show that official secrecy, not its exposure, really endangers lives.

Wikileaks has undoubtedly damaged US political interests, as well as those of several other regimes.

Wikileaks has said its next project will involve exposing the secrets of banks and other corporations.

Making enemies of the world’s most powerful entities comes at a price. Assange is still free at the time of writing, but he may soon face arrest.

Meanwhile, Bradley Manning, a US army private disillusioned by human rights abuses in Iraq and accused of leaking military secrets to Wikileaks, has been held in solitary confinement since May.

Regardless of whether he did what he is accused of, Manning is an innocent person held by criminals.

Supporters of democracy and opponents of violence and corruption must call for Manning to be released, for the threats against Assange to stop. But most importantly, we need an end to the military, government and corporate secrecy behind which the rulers of the world hide their crimes.

[This editorial appeared in Green Left Weekly, Australia's leading socialist newspaper. GLW is supported by the Socialist Alliance.]