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Leaking Venom

By Al Schumann on Tuesday November 30, 2010 06:29 AM

The Obama regime's reaction to the Wikileaks info-dump is remarkably infantile; threats of prosecution, accusations of attacks against the world, etc. It smacks of spite and sanctimony, which is consistent with the revelations in the leaked documents. Diplomacy is run like a corporate office; replete with snide back-biting, fatuous plots, treachery for its own sake, waste, fraud and abuse. The only difference is capacity for violence. Doubtless there's a plan to send Assange an exploding cigar, or some such vengeful nastiness.

It's likely the leaked documents won't change anything. That would take a vastly different political dispensation. But they nevertheless belong in the public domain, if only because the small "r" republican conception of government requires the informed consent of the governed. Obviously the punters and their harvesters are incapable of taking that seriously and will fight tooth and nail to maintain their freak show. However, anything that could help drag them into some degree of political adulthood has to be accessible. This is particularly important for the Democrats, those wacky inheritors of the paranoid style, whose reverence for the Enlightenment exists in inverse proportion to their willingness to put its precepts into practice. They see a Cheney under every bed, poor things, and it drives them to distraction.

Regarding the cui bono aspect of the leaks, some people place great value in being immiserated by Democrats, rather than Republicans, and prefer to see hegemony pursued by slick crackpot yuppies, rather then flat earth goons. This preference is the aesthetic of cretins. As the Obama regime has tirelessly proved, the cat food and drone missile program is not amenable to "better management".

Comments (16)

I don't buy it, Al. It's posturing by Obama - but nothing Assange does actually hurts Uncle Sam. I've read Arthur's opinion on the matter, and I just don't see it the way he does. I think these leaks help the federales, since they allow Uncle to clear the tool shed of rusty equipment while pretending (perhaps for the in-laws) to horde it.

The Neetch was right - if you level your aim at princes, you kind of have to kill 'em. Because if you don't, you tend to strengthen their hand.

Assange just keeps handing the figureheads and their actual merchant overlords a reason to militarize.

I'll type it again: it's a new age. The old models don't work. The State (in its Western iteration) is as much Spectacle as it is force. And the corporations don't have small nation advertising budgets because they neglect Spectacle, either.

If you play into the spectacular functions of power, you strengthen them. And that's all Assange is really doing (intentionally or not): playing for the Spectacle.

He's the player on the stage who hates the director, sure. But he's still in the damn show.




I am not opposed to the leaks in principle, but I also think Julian's naive belief that they will change policy or public opinion is laughable.

I disagree with this statement: "It's likely the leaked documents won't change anything." I actually think the leaks just increased the likelihood of a US attack on Iran, as the docs seem to give cover for such a move.

I believe this is correct:
"Assange just keeps handing the figureheads and their actual merchant overlords a reason to militarize."


The conspiracy theories are quite something. When they first started going around, I had to do a double-take because they sounded so absurd. Now, probably because Hillary got a bit of airtime in the latest, they are popping up on Corrente. SMH

It seems as though some of the conspiracists are entirely unaware of the long-running backstory involving Manning, Lamo, WIRED, etc. You can doubt the story, but the people speculating about repub state department moles etc. don't even seem to be aware of Manning, the generally accepted source of the leak. Airy speculation about possible sources isn't very convincing in the absence of any evidence that Manning was not in fact the independent source.

Al Schumann:


I wanted to avoid a direct analysis of the effect of the info dumps and Wikileaks' role in the power plays. Reason being, I think it's a given that information and the dissemination of it best serves those in positions of power. They have the infrastructure to spin and the willing partisans to obfuscate. So as things stand, it doesn't make a whit of difference to just about anything if I, or Arthur, or anyone else can prove elite criminality beyond a shadow of a doubt. Of course we can, and have done so. The broad reaction is still going be the fatuous partisan game.

By the same token, it doesn't make things worse when the information gets out. The power players are going to do rotten things no matter what. They can find an excuse in the weather, or a song they dislike on the radio. There are no good moves.

Nevertheless, all thoughts of efficacy aside, the information belongs in the public domain. There's the gossamer concept I mentioned, for which I don't expect fruition, and there are my contractual rights. Every legit job I've held has been harvested coming and going. The deal was dishonest; the other party entered it cynically, with malice and malfeasance in mind. But a deal is a deal notwithstanding, and I do like to see the authoritarian apologists in a complete moral panic.

Al Schumann:

As a corollary, if and when there are no good moves, at all, in a given situation, there's a perverse liberatory effect. The people who find themselves in the situation are not beholden to the traditional institutions and mores. They're still constrained, but there's no legitimacy in the constraints. What do they embrace anyway? That's where you find their measure.

What they choose may be misguided or futile. My own ideals are simple, maybe simplistic too. I set the bar low for others accordingly. If the Wikileaks people want to give a boost to informed skepticism, more power to them. I'd be delighted if they changed a few minds. If they don't, those are the breaks.

Al Schumann:


They can find an excuse or justification in anything.

The decision to attack Iraq was made well before the Bush/Cheney regime took office. The drumbeat to attack Iran has been going on for years. They're going to act malevolently if it's possible to do so. The timing and the practicalities are all that's in question.



I agree. But seems that this particular trove gives the hawks the kinds of pretexts they usually have to invent.

I agree with you that they belong in the public domain.

Al Schumann:


My best guess, regarding the appearance of delivering pretexts, is that the media does a pretty good job of highlighting whatever serves power best. Competent servility and message discipline is their bread and butter. Real news makes it into the mix, as it did with the housing bubble, for example, but it gets drowned by the chorus of sycophants.

What bothers me about the dumps is the advance notice to the press. Tactically, I think it's a mistake. Well meaning people who try to use the press always wind up getting used.


Wiki or no, if Obama's approval rating doesn't break 50% soon, here's betting bombs fall on Iran.


The naivete of an earlier era recalled (about 4 mins):

Watched a bit of Jamie Rubin and a pair of NYTers with a substitute Charlie Rose last night. It turns out that the Wikileaks release actually casts a flattering light on the Dept. of State. Who'd a thought?

Seems that other non-USA diplomats play various games but that the USA guys play it straight. And also that Iran's nuclear program is the greatest threat to world progress ever.

Turned it off as a taped-Charlie began kissing some cultural icon's butt in segemnt two.

Never slept more soundly. Lordy I NEED Charlie and the NYT and Jamie to put it all in context for me. For me and 330 millions of my brothers and sisters.


I know it's verboten to think outside the Skinner box without being accused of being a conspiracy theorist, but this paranoic is with Ahmadinejad on this one: these "leaks" are pure psy-ops:


There is nothing in them that is particularly embarrassing to the US or Israel. Quite the contrary. These leaks and the last bunch seem to reinforce long-standing neocon propaganda about Iran and Pakistan, and vindicate the hawkish view that Iran is a genuine threat to world peace. These leaks serve power. How convenient.

The leaks create the impression that America and Israel are waging a sincere struggle against actual terrorists, rather than a ruthless war of aggression with the end game being the destruction of Iraq and Iran.

"Israel has not been damaged at all by the WikiLeaks publications. On the contrary, the documents showed support in many quarters for Israel's assessments, especially on Iran.

"Our region has been hostage to a narrative that is the result of 60 years of propaganda, which paints Israel as the greatest threat," Netanyahu added. "In reality leaders understand that that view is bankrupt. For the first time in history there is agreement that Iran is the threat."

Yeah, sure. Everybody now agrees Iran's non-existent nuclear weapons program is a threat, not just those crazy Zionuts.

What a load of shit. The fact that Assange is still breathing is all you need to know about the credibility of these leaks.

How anybody could have lived through the electoral process we just had and spend any time wondering what immediate effect these latest Wikileaks will have is food for thought. This system does not permit democratic influence on foreign policy. It was undiscussed in the skein of tv ads that passed for the recent campaign season, and it will remain undiscussed, except in the halls of power, where it obviously follows a very strict and familiar logic.

As to supporting attacks on Iran, wtf? What did you folks think the cables about Iran would say? That Iran is a paradise, so let's crush it? Iran is far from a paradise, obviously. Despite the appalling falsity of the main charge (i.e the denial of the existence of the NPT), the problem is not the falsity of all the charges against Iran. The problem is the massively selective and hypocritical emphasis on them in this single case. If anything, doesn't finding confirmation that some of the pressure for an Iran attack is coming from the House of Saud actually discredit the idea pretty radically?


I guess what concerns me - in an impotent way, cuz, y'know... - is the persistent belief that the leak itself has importance, regardless of who benefits, or how it happens.

That it's a poke in Uncle's eye.

I don't see any evidence to sustain that sort of faith.

I see an entire spectacular system which feeds off these sort of fantastical assaults on power. It's too perfect a narrative not to be spectacular. Lone gunmen takes on the black hats. That has a scripted feel, to me. Even assuming Assange is on the level and that he really does want to poke authority in eyehole, he's not (a) hurting power, (b) changing the nature of the spectacular demonstration or (c) ending the Spectacle itself.

He's feeding it, no?



Al Schumann:


I don't see a poke either, for what it's worth. Most of the official reactions look staged. There are what look like opportunistic, rehearsed exploitations as well as hysterical, ill-considered overreactions. One doesn't rule out the other, but neither puts sand in the tank. Spectacular, as you say.

It's been that way since the disclosure of COINTELPRO nastiness and for that matter the Pentagon Papers. One could legitimately say they've made denial harder, but the deniers are up to the task. Their fortitude is amazing. I'll bet they could gnaw off their own legs. Which does indeed make for an endlessly recuperative dynamic to pushing at the centers of power.

There's not much left for anyone interested in balking those powers. That would take a delegitimization crisis of the kind that leads to general strikes. I can't make an argument that the leaks feed into a potential crisis. In the absence of any organizational capacity to exploit them, their contribution to delegitimization is effectively miniscule.

That said, I'll take miniscule. A teaspoon here, a teaspoon there; pretty soon we're talking about... tablespoons. Admittedly.

Hell yeah, Al. I don't want to be the guy taking the spoonful of water from a thirsty man. I think I believe I hope that I wish I'm just pointing out who is actually holding the spoon.

The water-in-spoonfuls is miniscule. It's also better than a parched tongue. I just wonder if it's worth the shame of taking it from that hand.

I dunno. I really don't.

Al Schumann:


Thanks for the sympathetic take. The ethical questions in this get very tough for me: what's the intent, what's the means to the end, what are the consequences and how do the active participants respond to that.

I don't have enough to go on yet, and I want to err on the side of a generous fairness as I muddle through to an understanding of the events.

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