Wikileaks 12 days later, worldwide

After 12 days of WikiLeaks cables, the world looks on US with new eyes | World news | The Guardian


Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted furiously to US diplomatic cables that suggested he was a corrupt closet Islamist. As Turkey heads for elections next year, secular Republican opponents may try to exploit his evident discomfort.

The cables highlighted three principal issues. Erdogan’s personal probity – he was reported to have eight secret Swiss bank accounts; the supposed Islamist agenda of the ruling AKP party; and Turkey’s perceived drift away from the western alliance and closer embrace of countries such as Syria and Iran.

Erdogan’s response was both to dismiss the cables as tittle-tattle, and to conjure conspiracy theories.”The un-serious cables of American diplomats, formed from gossip, magazines, allegations and slander are spreading worldwide via the internet,” Erdogan said. “Are there disclosures of state secrets, or is there another aim?” he askedd. “… Is it carrying out a veiled, dark propaganda? Are there efforts to affect, manipulate relations between certain countries?”



Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gave the sharpest response to the WikiLeaks cables in which he was protrayed as Batman to Dmitry Medvedev’s Robin. “Slander”, he called it. The embassy cables portray Russia as a corrupt kleptocracy where politicians and criminals were inextricably linked. Medvedev has said that the cables “show a full measure of cynicism” in US foreign policy making. But he suggested the leaks would not damage relations between Moscow and WashingtonSergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, claimed to be surprised that “some petty thieves running around the Internet” are causing such a sensation. In reality, the cables have caused lasting damage in Russia, playing to the deep mistrust of US intentions that imbues Kremlin policy making.

Twelve Theses on Wikileaks – Le Monde diplomatique – English edition

These 2.

For better or for worse, Wikileaks has skyrocketed itself into the realm of high-level international politics. Out of the blue, Wikileaks has become a full-blown player both on the world scene, as well as in the national sphere of some countries. By virtue of its disclosures, Wikileaks, small player as it is, appears to carry the same weight as government or big corporations (its next target) – in the domain of information gathering and publicizing at least. But at same time it is unclear whether this is a permanent feature or a hype-induced temporary phenomenon – Wikileaks appears to believe the former, and that looks like to be more and more the case. Nonetheless Wikileaks, by word of its best-known representative Julian Assange, think that, as a puny non-state and non-corporate actor, it is boxing in the same weight-class as the U.S. government – and starts to behave accordingly. One could call this the ’Talibanization’ stage of postmodern – “Flat World” – theory where scales, times, and places have been declared largely irrelevant. What counts is the celebrity momentum and the intensive accumulation of media attention. Wikileaks manages to capture that attention by way of spectacular information hacks where other parties, especially civil society groups and human rights organizations, are desperately struggling to get their message across. Whereas the latter tend to play by the rules and seek legitimacy from dominant institutions, Wikileaks¹ strategy is a populist one that taps into widespread public disaffection with mainstream politics. Political legitimacy, for Wikileaks, is no longer something graciously bestowed upon minor actors by the powers that be. Wikileaks bypasses this old world structure of power and instead goes to the source of political legitimacy in the info-society today: the rapturous banality of the spectacle. Wikileaks genially puts to use the ’escape velocity’ of IT – using IT to leave IT behind and rudely irrupt the realm of real-world politics.

These 3.

In the ongoing saga termed ŒThe Decline of the US Empire¹, Wikileaks enters the stage as the slayer of a soft target. It would be difficult to imagine it doing quite the same to the Russian or Chinese government, or even Singapore – not to speak of their … err … ’corporate’ affiliates. Never mind the big internationals banks and the multinational corporation Julian Assange has identified as Wikileaks’ next target. Here distinct, and huge, cultural and linguistic barriers are at work, not to speak of purely power-related ones that would need to be surmounted. Also vastly different constituencies are factors there, even if we speak about the more limited (and allegedly more globally shared) cultures and agendas of hackers, info-activists and investigative journalists. In that sense Wikileaks in its present manifestation remains a typically ’Western’ product and cannot claim to be a truly universal or global undertaking.

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