We may never know the whole story behind the recent publication of sensitive U.S. government documents by the Wikileaks organization, but we certainly can draw some important conclusions from the reaction of so many in government and media. At its core, the Wikileaks controversy serves as a diversion from the real issue of what our foreign policy should be. But the mainstream media, along with neoconservatives from both parties, insists on asking the wrong questions. When presented with embarrassing disclosures about U.S. spying and meddling, the policy that requires so much spying and meddling is not questioned. Instead the media focuses on how authorities might prosecute the publishers of such information.
Unfortunately no one questions the status quo or suggests a wholesale rethinking of our foreign policy. No one suggests that the White House or the State Department should be embarrassed that the U.S. engages in spying and meddling. The only embarrassment is that it was made public! This allows ordinary people to actually know and talk about what the government does.
State secrecy is anathema to a free society. Why exactly should Americans be prevented from knowing what their government is doing in their name? In a free society we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, however, we are in big trouble. The truth is that our foreign spying, meddling and outright military intervention in the post-World War 2 era has made us less secure, not more, and we have lost countless lives and spent trillions of dollars for our trouble. Too often it's the official government lies that have given us endless and illegal wars resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and casualties.
Take the recent hostilities in Korea as only one example. More than 50 years after the end of the Korean war American taxpayers continue to spend billions of U.S. military dollars to defend a modern and wealthy South Korea. The continued presence of the U.S. military places American lives between these two factions. The U.S. presence only serves to prolong the conflict, further draining our empty treasury and placing our military at risk.
The neoconservative ethos, steeped in the teachings of Leo Strauss, cannot abide an America where individuals simply pursue their happy, peaceful, prosperous lives. It cannot abide an America where society centers around family, religion or civic and social institutions rather than an all-powerful central state. There is always an enemy to slay, whether communist or terrorist. In the neoconservative vision, a constant state of alarm must be fostered among the people to keep them focused on something greater than themselves, namely their great protector - the state.
This is why the neoconservative reaction to Wikileaks revelations is so predictable. They say, "See, we told you, the world is a dangerous place", so goes their claim. "We must prosecute or even assassinate those responsible for publishing the leaks. Then we must redouble our efforts to police the world by spying and meddling better with no more leaks", so they say.
We should view the Wikileaks controversy in the larger context of American foreign policy. Rather than worry about the disclosure of embarrassing secrets we should focus on our delusional foreign policy. We are kidding ourselves when we believe spying, intrigue and outright military intervention can maintain our international status as a superpower while our domestic economy crumbles in an orgy of debt and monetary debasement.