Friday, December 24, 2010

An era of hyper-transparency?


We have all heard of Wolf, Wolf story, isn’t it? I am beginning to wonder whether Assange can be described as the man who cried wolf! I mean we have not got any earth-shattering information from WikiLeaks, information that could derail decades of diplomatic work, information that could send countries in to a shell of isolation while the US unsheathed and sharpened its sword for the eventual war against the pen, as believed generally. It is too early to come to conclusion about the content of leaks, I know. But if we continue to get information from the Leaks that would only titillate and cause many to snicker and annoy a few, then we would have to admit that it promised too much but delivered too little. Did US fear these revelations? Its hard to believe. There must be something more to it. Otherwise it wouldn’t have gone at it hammer and tongs. Does it mean that the establishment has won the first round of battle? And the first casualty was free access to information?
What US has done and what it might do to fight Leaks and whether it is justifiable depends entirely on the contents of the cables and its authenticity. If the Leaks can indeed expose conspiracies, corruption and cover-ups then in a democracy it should not be silenced directly or indirectly. But if the Leaks are just a collection of unauthentic information, juicy gossips that can only plant a seed of doubt, suspicion in other's mind then what is the use of it. We are already living in an uncertain world. Why should we become more paranoid and obsessed. Can what one has said off the record become a fact? I would say it would be ethically wrong if it is presented as a fact. It is opportunism of the highest order to fish in troubled waters.
In spite of Assange’s arrest and release, WikiLeaks declared that it would continue to expose facts. US has assumed an enviable role in directing the discourse of international community in any matter of global importance be it climate change or nuclear for civil use or GMO or war against ‘terrorism’. It looked as if Leaks would shed some light on the actual role of US and it was guided by what. My mind is sculpted and chiseled to believe that wars are fought not for ideology. I thought Leaks would let the world know how and why US dragged it to participate in so many wars. It benefitted whom? Whether it has left the countries which it freed from the ‘oppresive regimes’ better off? US fearing publication of the cables makes sense if it can unveil how economies are derailed for the wealth and health of US and thereby endanger the position of US in the world.
But if Wikileaks is a ploy to hold the only super power as a hostage with the help of unauthentic, unverifiable information then it is dangerous. Here I am reminded of how RTI in India is being misused for ulterior motives and small gain. The US has said that Assange is an anarchist and stated that "He is trying to undermine the international system that enables us to cooperate and collaborate with other governments and to work in multilateral settings and on a bilateral basis to help solve regional and international issues." 
But being a democratic country how can US stop the flow of information. So it throws up the question raised by Ms.Roy i.e whether the Democracy as we know has been used up? Can WikiLeaks lead to an era of hyper-transparency, where you can be what you are?

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