A hero of Transparency Extremism

Forgive me if I’ve been wittering on about financial transparency when the real transparency story has been in the headlines. I am referring, of course, to Wikileaks and Julian Assange, who is a true hero of Extreme Transparency.  But enough of him; you know that.

Odious cunts like Karl Rove are calling for him to be arraigned, kidnapped and extraordinarily rendered.

Wikileaks leaked a whole bundle of sensitive military material about the Afghan war. It wasn’t even Top Secret, and it was widely available to US forces and their contractors in Afghanistan. Keeping it secret in the first place was stupid; the kind of bone-headed stupidity we expect from military people and their supporters.

Even they now agree  that what ISAF is  trying to win and to hold in Afghanistan is people’s minds, not territory. You win minds with propaganda, not with guns; and the truth is the only propaganda that works.  You don’t win minds by attacking civilians, deliberately or accidentally; and when it does happen, if you lie about it, you lose. Covering it up is lying about it.

Lies feed the enemy’s propaganda machine and undermine our own good story about truth and liberty, and in this propaganda war for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, secrets are the tactical equivalent of lies. How so? Ttruth is the best weapon, so it should be deployed, and there’s no justification for keeping it  secret.  Lies and coverups are always unexploded munitions waiting to go off without warning, which can only be defused by being exposed.     So the first job is to clear the secrets and lies out of our side: well done that man Assange, and then we can expose the even more odious lies of the enemy.

The unfortunate truth is that we fucked up the propaganda war in Afghanistan in the early 1990s and we’ve been making it worse ever since. When the Soviets withdrew, and left Afghanistan in the midst of a drought, millions of Afghans were displaced across the border into refugee camps in Pakistan and Iran, where they were ignored by the West, but not ignored altogether. Saudi money fed them and educated them, creating the Taleban and portraying the collapse of the Soviet occupation as a victory for totalitarian Islam – while we  were smugly assuming everyone could see the collapse of totalitarian socialism as a victory for liberty.

The military strategy in Afghanistan is creeping inexorably towards a fail; and when it does, the Taleban will claim another victory for totalitarian Islam. It won’t be: it will, instead, be yet another failure to win a war of ideas with guns. But then, the people who pay Karl Rove and his ilk depend on American tax dollars going to buy more guns. Unlike the Afghans, they are much better off after a decade of war than they would have been had we averted it by sending a few million dollars worth of appropriate aid to post-Soviet Afghanistan.

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