Archive for December, 2010

Wikileaks and the capital of Kyrgyzstan

December 27, 2010

What to say about Wikileaks?  The most curious thing is that it has attracted such little attention.  Oh, certainly the usual suspects (Michael Moore, Sarah Palin) have rushed to defend or attack Assange, and various groups have found stories of interest to them (the left-wing U.K. paper The Guardian “discovered” that Prince Andrew was an idiot, and Tories were poodles of the U.S.), but generally it has been a minor breeze in a small teacup.  Why?

The fact is that we already know how American foreign policy works, more or less.  More information is not that useful at this point.

Consider Kyrgyzstan.  On the one hand, we know nothing about it.  (Who runs it?  Where is it?  How to spell it?  What’s the capital?)  What use could cables from Bishkek be to us?  But, on the other hand, we know everything about it.  Oil, minerals, ethnic rivalries, corruption, blackmail, fanatics, shady trade deals, great power rivalries – they are all in there somewhere, or in the next country down the street. What could cables from Bishkek tell us that we couldn’t already guess?  Not to mention that the inner workings of bureaucracies are generally  not too exciting – we have bought a ticket to a James Bond film, but ended up at an Elks lodge committee meeting.

What will happen next?  You already know.  Wikileaks will reveal that bankers broke the law to make more money.  Anonymous will give free stress-testing to corporate websites.  And Assange will go to jail for a long, long, time, for saying too much, and understanding too little.

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