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WikiLeaks- Sharing "classified" info.


BondTrader

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BondTrader

Well, throughout the year of 2011, Julian Assange has been sharing "classified" government information over the internet. Not just a few documents but thousands of pages of classified info over his website wikileaks.org.

It has come to my attention that this is a very controversial issue since some people believe that as a citizen of the United States, (just an example) one has the right to know what the government has been doing, while others believe that the sharing of this information may directly affect the government in such aspects as homeland security and their foreign relations.

 

Do you believe that as a citizen of whatever country you are in, your government should share their "classified" documents? Are you against the sharing of government information and believe that some things have to stay secret?

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sivispacem

The citizen of a country does not have some kind of right to view information of this nature. Documents are classified and those who are allowed access to them heavily vetted for a reason. True, in the case of the WikiLeaks they were relatively careful to remove all attributable information from many of the diplomatic cables, and to make an effort not to release too much information that would be potentially damaging, but I just don't buy the basic principal. It assumes that all democracy is direct, and therefore the individual voters should have access to information that policy makers use. However, the US is a representative (federal) democracy and therefore those in positions of power have been put there to represent the people. not to do their bidding. The general principal of WikiLeaks is sound- some information should be in the public domain but is suppressed by political institutions, QUANGOs and other organisations who risk being damaged by admissions of their own failings- however, releasing sensitive diplomatic and military documents is an extremely stupid and naive thing to do.

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The citizen of a country does not have some kind of right to view information of this nature. Documents are classified and those who are allowed access to them heavily vetted for a reason. True, in the case of the WikiLeaks they were relatively careful to remove all attributable information from many of the diplomatic cables, and to make an effort not to release too much information that would be potentially damaging, but I just don't buy the basic principal. It assumes that all democracy is direct, and therefore the individual voters should have access to information that policy makers use. However, the US is a representative (federal) democracy and therefore those in positions of power have been put there to represent the people. not to do their bidding. The general principal of WikiLeaks is sound- some information should be in the public domain but is suppressed by political institutions, QUANGOs and other organisations who risk being damaged by admissions of their own failings- however, releasing sensitive diplomatic and military documents is an extremely stupid and naive thing to do.

Don't think you could put it better than that.

 

Personally I don't care too much about wikileaks, it steps over the line sometimes, other times it opens stuff to the public that should never have been kept secret. Information that doesnt comprimise national security should in my opinion be publicly available.

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The citizen of a country does not have some kind of right to view information of this nature. Documents are classified and those who are allowed access to them heavily vetted for a reason. True, in the case of the WikiLeaks they were relatively careful to remove all attributable information from many of the diplomatic cables, and to make an effort not to release too much information that would be potentially damaging, but I just don't buy the basic principal. It assumes that all democracy is direct, and therefore the individual voters should have access to information that policy makers use. However, the US is a representative (federal) democracy and therefore those in positions of power have been put there to represent the people. not to do their bidding. The general principal of WikiLeaks is sound- some information should be in the public domain but is suppressed by political institutions, QUANGOs and other organisations who risk being damaged by admissions of their own failings- however, releasing sensitive diplomatic and military documents is an extremely stupid and naive thing to do.

It was one thing when the information being leaked was a video of a U.S. military attack that went badly--that might be classified, but for what purpose? I mean, I think as a citizen most people would want to know if we attacked the wrong people, and I know I would want to. Perhaps the government had a good reason for classifying it; maybe it was easy to identify the individual soldiers on the ground, or maybe they just didn't want the disgrace. Either way I think that's the kind of grey-area, whistle-blowing stuff that WikiLeaks was originally intended for.

 

It's another thing entirely for them to start publishing all sorts of sensitive military data, and if I remember right a lot of it was personal data about individual soldiers. I don't need to know any of that, and I don't really see a reason why anyone else would. It's just not the same thing to as freedom of information to me, but the thing is... I can't really explain why. If you look specifically at the examples I've put forward it seems pretty clear cut... On the one hand you have a military video that was recorded where something went wrong, and I think everyone should be able to know about that and that it shouldn't be classified in any way. On the other hand you have private information relating to people and other sensitive type of information, but it really doesn't inform you of anything...

 

Let's think of it this way... If I log in to WikiLeaks, and I watch that video, and I see that someone put it up... I know what happened ( that there was an accidental attack or whatever it may happen to be ) and that they had tried to suppress that information. What actual usefulness is that information? Pretty much nil, I guess it makes me aware that I need to think about what they are and aren't showing on the news a little bit more, but certainly nothing productive. On the other hand if I go and download all the military cable info, what usefulness is that of me? "Oh, apparently Lance Corporal Dingleberry lives in Ohio"... That's even less useful to me than before, so it kind of makes no difference between the two types of information. How can one say one should be free to everyone and one should not?

 

Well, I think it's kind of obvious... If I were a terrorist or some kind of enemy state that wanted to do the U.S. or its soldiers harm, watching some video isn't going to help me out. However knowing the addresses of soldiers, or maybe the location of operations, and so-on and so-forth definitely would.

 

So when it comes right down to it, yeah I think there should be a freedom of information... The only problem is that if we try to apply that theory to everything, you have a lot of information that can jeopardize a lot of people which does not benefit anyone in any good way. I think it's a little too difficult to moderate between the two to have such a thing as WikiLeaks, but if you go the other way then you don't have a free outlet for any of the other information people should know as well. I think maybe they're operating under some kind of premise such as, "Well, if we have this, then this has got to be okay" principle... After all, once you start making any kind of exception because "Well, this might jeopardize this", then it just opens the door to it more and more until you're right back to square one with certain things being censored and suppressed.

 

So is it a necessary evil? If we are to have true freedom of information, I believe it is... I think the real question boils down past what WikiLeaks is doing to whether or not we should actually have true freedom of information, and like you said I think we don't need to know every little thing that happens, but once again that just goes back to the susceptibility of information and knowledge of events being suppressed.

 

 

As a side note, I seem to remember something about someone leaking something off of WikiLeaks to several media outlets, and then Assange threatening to sue on copyright grounds? I think that kind of shows their true colors, and you've got wonder if it's not more about selling information than making it free.

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Like the above guy said, there's a major difference between publishing a classified video that shouldn't have been classified and publishing classified documents that, when published, would put peoples lives at risk. There is a reason that classified things aren't published where any Joe the Plumber or Osama bin Laden wannabe can see them. "Freedom of information" does not mean that we must hand over military secrets to enemies, nor should it.

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GrandMaster Smith

Yeah I definitely don't think us U.S. citizens should have the slightest clue as to what our tax dollars are really paying for..

 

As long as I'm safe from scary terrorists the government can do whatever they want biggrin.gif

 

/sarcasm

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It depends as to what this information is revealing. If the stuff is threatening the safety of the general public, I would rather that it wasn't revealed, but if it is simply interesting and not dangerous, I am happy to see it being revealed.

 

I do worry about the intentions of the people who are involved with WikiLeaks. I am unsure as to they are actually releasing this to help the public find out this information, or if they are just doing it so that they have a good story for the news and they can then make some money from what they are doing.

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sivispacem

Like others have said, how reasonable the release of this kind of information is is entirely dependent on the information itself. I do concede that some should be placed in the public domain, but things like complex military and diplomatic documents should never be. Not just because they are potentially extremely damaging, but also because they don't serve a public interest as such a small proportion of the population are capable of properly understanding them.

 

 

Yeah I definitely don't think us U.S. citizens should have the slightest clue as to what our tax dollars are really paying for..

 

As long as I'm safe from scary terrorists the government can do whatever they want biggrin.gif

 

/sarcasm

The problem is not the nature of the material, it's the nature of the population. Sure, you might think it's a great idea to lay it all out in the open, but all that displays is an absolute absurd misconception about the mentality, intelligence and understanding of the average voter.

 

Say it's the 1980s again and the US has been conducting black operations knocking over third-world regimes in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. What is the average American going to think of that? "Our tax dollars on little private wars"- they'd be up in arms. The average person has literally no understanding of the way the world works outside of their town, or often the four walls of their house. They don't understand the idea that operations- such as, for instance, those in Libya could have potentially massive long-term benefits for US interests across the entire Middle East/North African region. They just see some money being spent in a country they've never even heard of, much less are capable of pin-pointing on a map.

 

The problem is that the majority of the population tend to have a much higher opinion of their own intelligence than they do in reality. They fail to look at anything more than what is in their face; fail to properly analyse documents to see things like trends; and do not have anything close to enough of an understanding of the technical complexities of international (or even national) diplomacy to make sense of these documents. An example, if you will. Between September 11th 2001 and the 7/7 bombings in July 2005, the British Security Service (MI5) succeed in preventing something in the region of 30 terrorist plots, some of which were at very advanced stages including the construction of bombs- exact numbers are nigh-on impossible to come across due to the secretive nature of the organisations and of the operations, but it's quiet easy to work out what has occurred if you look at the arrest records. Now, a casual observer who went through documents pertaining to these operations would likely be indignant- "why are we spending so much money on these security services for them to only sanction two dozen arrests over 5 years?" But the actual reality; the complexity of such operations, the time, effort and man-power required to conduct them will never truly be reflected in documents such as those released in WikiLeaks.

 

My general point- freedom of information is all well and good in theory, but in practice it only paints a realistic picture of operations when tied with an complex knowledge of the subject matter. Without such an understanding, it is very easy to completely misinterpret, misunderstand or misconstrue the value of such documents.

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GrandMaster Smith

But just look where they get themselves when they keep everything in secrecy and the average public has no clue what's going on while WE'RE all paying for them to do so..

 

We're so far in debt our whole entire country is going to be completely bankrupt within a couple years and there's not a damn thing we can do about it now and we ALL have to pay for it..

 

You know we would probably be a lot better off if we dealt with our own issues within our own border and probably wouldn't be getting ourselves attacked by terrorists if we didn't go into THEIR OWN soil and tell them how to run things..

 

The US/UK are like the bullies of the world and we don't expect consequences for our actions? Seriously think about it, what would we do if China had came into our country building embassies and military bases telling us how to run our own country.. Wouldn't we try defending ourselves?

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But just look where they get themselves when they keep everything in secrecy and the average public has no clue what's going on while WE'RE all paying for them to do so..

 

We're so far in debt our whole entire country is going to be completely bankrupt within a couple years and there's not a damn thing we can do about it now and we ALL have to pay for it..

 

You know we would probably be a lot better off if we dealt with our own issues within our own border and probably wouldn't be getting ourselves attacked by terrorists if we didn't go into THEIR OWN soil and tell them how to run things..

 

The US/UK are like the bullies of the world and we don't expect consequences for our actions? Seriously think about it, what would we do if China had came into our country building embassies and military bases telling us how to run our own country.. Wouldn't we try defending ourselves?

How do you know where they "get themselves"? The great advantage with much of the IR and foreign policy world being kept under lock and key is that those who haven't studied or worked in it have literally no idea what is going on in reality. Tell me, what do you think is currently going on that's so bad, so damaging to the nation?

 

See, you've immediately fallen into the trap of assuming that all foreign policy operations are costly in the long-term. Nothing on earth could be further from the truth. "Short-term costs for long-term gains" is the way governments should be run, no? And it's very hard to judge the long-term outcome of something whilst it's still underway. Incidentally, you'll forgive me for not quite believing you in regards to the financial state of your nation, as you predicted "weeks to months" in about January and I've yet to see the US financial systems collapse.

 

Oh, and isolationism has served the world so well in the past, hasn't it? Tell me, what operations were the US conducting in the Middle East at the time of 9/11? Exactly when did the US begin truly enforcing their foreign policy decision with force. When did they grow a spine and stop wallowing in the failures of Grenada, Iraq and Somalia? Besides, do you really think that the objection of organisations such as al-Qaeda is US interference in foreign nations affairs? All that demonstrates is just how poorly you understand the issue at hand. Their objection is not to the conduct of the Western world, it's to it's very existence- it's moral codes, it's governmental systems and the very freedoms that define the West. Islamic terrorism is compared with Cold-war threat of nuclear Armageddon with good reason; they're both potentially existential threats.

 

Has it never occurred to you that the US had been a target of Islamic terrorism for decades before Iraq and Afghanistan?

 

That's what big states do; they push others around for their own self-interest. I don't see what the objection is- it's the way foreign policy has always been conducted. To think that the larger states are just going to roll over and play fair with the smaller ones is absurdly naive. But is it "bullying"? No. Do you genuinely believe that other states would have the same moral dilemma that you are portraying if they were the large power and we were the small one?

 

Look at China for a perfect example. They are imperialistic to an absurd extreme, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. They have been building military facilities on foreign soil, like you accuse the US of doing. They've been bullying smaller powers into incredibly damaging trade deals for the benefit of China, like you accuse the US of doing. But exactly why do they never receive the same kinds of criticisms as the US? In many ways, they're worse- they've got their fat little fingers in every border war, terrorist organisation and autocratic government on the planet, supplying arms and oil to some of the least savoury people on earth. They make the US look like a f*cking saint.

 

Incidently, embassies are diplomatic buildings. Pretty much every state on earth has embassies on foreign soil. Just saying.

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But just look where they get themselves when they keep everything in secrecy and the average public has no clue what's going on while WE'RE all paying for them to do so..

 

We're so far in debt our whole entire country is going to be completely bankrupt within a couple years and there's not a damn thing we can do about it now and we ALL have to pay for it..

 

You know we would probably be a lot better off if we dealt with our own issues within our own border and probably wouldn't be getting ourselves attacked by terrorists if we didn't go into THEIR OWN soil and tell them how to run things..

 

The US/UK are like the bullies of the world and we don't expect consequences for our actions? Seriously think about it, what would we do if China had came into our country building embassies and military bases telling us how to run our own country.. Wouldn't we try defending ourselves?

I think you're giving far more credit to WikiLeaks than is really due. Americans are not nearly as naive or unaware as this as you may think, and WikiLeaks has not had a massive or even a distinct impact on how much more aware of anything we are either. Between journalism and sensationalism ( and the two are way too intertwined now ) there's more than enough opportunity for whistle blowers and the like to get the information that needs to be out there available through many other outlets, traditional or high-tech, that have nothing to do with WikiLeaks. I mean, think about the government we're talking about here, have you ever read about what happened with Watergate? Iran-Contra? Hell, our president couldn't even get a blowjob without it becoming becoming some kind of scandal, and there's a lot of history of indiscretions like that. Realistically, what kind of bombshell revelation has WikiLeaks actually served to the American public that can even match things like that?

 

Past that, I don't really think that WikiLeaks is encouraging the same thing as freedom of information, they're encouraging the release of classified material, but the only catch to this whole thing is that this also provides a medium through which people can leak information that is important. Not a lot of it is ever important to the American public, but if we want to talk about China, sometimes the only ways we're even aware of things like working/living conditions over there is because of people leaking information--I'm not really aware if WikiLeaks has ever played a significant role in this though, but it does offer another tool. The question is, is it even that much of an important tool in that regard?

 

Take for example some of the recent happenings in Burma... I remember watching a documentary "Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country" where the reporters literally had to film clandestinely and avoid capture while filming, and smuggling their footage back and forth, uploading it, etc. Maybe they used WikiLeaks, and maybe they didn't, but if they did it was only a very small step in the chain of getting that information into the American public's home. They got their story and footage on head line news, and managed to get through to the world, "Hey, look what's happening in Burma!" and you know how much effect it had with the American public? None at all, and the heroic tale of how they got the footage that they risk their lives for ended up as an HBO special that me and probably a few other thousand people watched, and what can we really do about it except go, "Well, that sucks."

 

On the other hand I think it is important that at least some people be aware of what is happening, even if there's not really anything they can do about it. It's actually kind of a depressing documentary that really makes me think we take for granted the incredibly free exchange of information and ideas we do have in society. In this film, they show that they have all sorts of undercover government agents that watch for people who may be speaking out against the government, and they will literally grab these people and throw them into a truck and kidnap them. The same goes for anyone video taping, and in some instances in the film when relations between the people and the government had finally broke down, they were even shooting at the reporters just for filming. I mean, in the beginning of the movie when the guy would get on a bus and point the camera at someone, they would not even speak out of fear that they might also get into trouble or that it was some type of rouse to get them to speak with dissent. I mean, we think freedom of information is somehow being able to view classified information on WikiLeaks, in the meantime these people cannot even speak their minds in public or use a video camera without risking being kidnapped and taken away.

 

Speaking about China and on this topic, what about Internet Filtering? You'd think WikiLeaks would probably be one of those sites that's pretty hard to access in China, or that there would be a lot of risk in disclosing information on in general. Even then, when things are released on that site, what effect do they often have? Either they're digested as some kind of trivial factoid akin to watching the History Channel by some guy with an always-on Internet connection and insomnia, or they get blasted onto headline news outlets and then forgotten in a week, with whatever repercussions the leak and the reports have going pretty much unknown to anyone.

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Like others have said, how reasonable the release of this kind of information is is entirely dependent on the information Say it's the 1980s again and the US has been conducting black operations knocking over third-world regimes in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. What is the average American going to think of that? "Our tax dollars on little private wars"- they'd be up in arms. The average person has literally no understanding of the way the world works outside of their town, or often the four walls of their house. They don't understand the idea that operations- such as, for instance, those in Libya could have potentially massive long-term benefits for US interests across the entire Middle East/North African region. They just see some money being spent in a country they've never even heard of, much less are capable of pin-pointing on a map.

 

 

You have some very good point regarding the understanding of the average citizen anywhere. I am sorry, but there are, however, two points I'd like to raise.

 

Firstly, even in a system like the US of a representative democracy, keeping s much of the government's actions and decisions will hinder how representative the system is of the people. You cannot adequately and accurately represent the people if they have no clue what decisions you made and information you know. There understanding of you will be solely shaped by your own self-created public image and the attacks of which by your opponents - hardly a good democracy IMO.

 

Secondly, the lack of freedom of information leads only to lack of accountability. I also see no public interest in keeping so much of the military's actions and foriegn policy so secretive beyong the convenience of those running the country so that they wont have to explain elves. Let the people be up in arms over the actions of the military and foriegn policy - it is the politician's duty to exlain and help the public understand their reasoning and motives.

 

I believe that politics is hardly such a specially complex profession that it should only be left to the "intellectual elite" who practice it. Many other specialities are equally complex and open to misinterpretation by the "dumb public hoards" including the one I am persuing right now, and they can all be just ascontroversial. As idealistic as this sounds, it is the professional's job to at least explain their reasoning, even if in a very simplified sense, to the public in instances where they are dealing with them in any manner.

 

On a side note, what I see all this classification of information doing in the West is leading the countries on the very same path of government patronage as the despotic regimes they claim to counter (though obviously we aren't anywhere near there yet), and prevent decent against the government no matter how well-founded. If anything, I see the common folk's lack of knowledge being exploited by the leaders just as much as their knowledge would have been exploited by their own stupidity or opposition elements if complete freedom of information existed - hope that makes sense lol.

 

I understand what I said is generally quite idealistic, and practically carrying it out can be a complete impossibility now, however I believe that does not impede on it being right in principle.

 

 

Oh, and isolationism has served the world so well in the past, hasn't it? Tell me, what operations were the US conducting in the Middle East at the time of 9/11? Exactly when did the US begin truly enforcing their foreign policy decision with force. When did they grow a spine and stop wallowing in the failures of Grenada, Iraq and Somalia?

 

 

Firstly, I am not quite sure what you are trying to get at here, but I completely disagree if you are suggesting it was only after 9/11 that the US started forcibly persuing it's foriegn policy goals. My family lived in the middle-east their whole lives and only moved out recently. The US has certainly been forcibly (and often bloodily) enforcing it's foriegn policy goals way before 9/11, and never seemed to have been anymore deterred by failures than now. I would hardly describe the US's stance as isolationist before - only because there weren't tanks and uniformed soldiers rolling down the streets doesn't mean black ops, coups and all sorts of other interventions were taking place.

 

The same holds true to many countries - no matter how small and regional their influences are. Even the relatively pathetic Iraq and Syria were actively persuing their foriegn policy goals in Lebanon during the civil war. And I am sure you know how now Iranian and Al Qaeda interference are infact winning against that of the US in many places now (despite Al Qaeda not even being a country!).

 

 

Besides, do you really think that the objection of organisations such as al-Qaeda is US interference in foreign nations affairs? All that demonstrates is just how poorly you understand the issue at hand.

 

Sorry man, but I believe that - they have a massive problem with Western interference if it is in a place they want to interfere and influence themselves. Goal of most civilisations is to influence and control others in order to gain somesort of advantage. Hardly anything new, and it holds true for Al Qaeda just as much as it holds for the US and the Roman Empire in the past.

 

 

Their objection is not to the conduct of the Western world, it's to it's very existence- it's moral codes, it's governmental systems and the very freedoms that define the West. Islamic terrorism is compared with Cold-war threat of nuclear Armageddon with good reason; they're both potentially existential threats.

 

I am sorry again bro, but I have to completely disagree here too. The whole notion of "they hate our freedom and equality and [insert other universally accepted and admired human principles here] and our very existance" is very much complete propoganda put out by the Western powers to gain support. Well, even they started going easy on that after they realised how much they underestimated people's intelligence.

It is just like Al Qaeda claims the West is purely concerned with "trying to destroy Islam, kill them and is opposed to all the moral principles thay live by and hold dear."

 

Same crap, spoken in a different language by a different (and much less well educated and skilled) "politicians".

 

They are not inherently opposed to the West just as the West is not inherently opposed to them. They are just trying to influence countries (which are physically closer to them) for their own personal gain, and the gain of those they believe they are representing.

Islamism and the fight against Western Imperialism is just the vehicle they try to gain popularity with the people with, just as the West uses Freedom and Personal Liberties.

 

I believe thinking they are all merely completely crazed mad dogs and general one-dimensional villians with a simple agenda of destorying everything that fails to comply with their completely ridiculous image of perfection is quite naive. They are much smarter than that, despite their complete lack of political, media and propoganda infastructures.

 

Understanding their true nature is the only way to successfully opposing them, and I think most Western Politicians know that.

 

Remember, there are no "good guys" and "bad guys". Just different factions persuing their own gains and those of the people they claim to represent. The only morality that comes into it concerns their willingness to sacrifice those not directly involved in persuit of those gains.

 

Take care mate.

 

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Firstly, even in a system like the US of a representative democracy, keeping s much of the government's actions and decisions will hinder how representative the system is of the people. You cannot adequately and accurately represent the people if they have no clue what decisions you made and information you know. There understanding of you will be solely shaped by your own self-created public image and the attacks of which by your opponents - hardly a good democracy IMO.

 

Secondly, the lack of freedom of information leads only to lack of accountability. I also see no public interest in keeping so much of the military's actions and foriegn policy so secretive beyong the convenience of those running the country so that they wont have to explain elves. Let the people be up in arms over the actions of the military and foriegn policy - it is the politician's duty to exlain and help the public understand their reasoning and motives.

 

I'm not by any stretch of the imagination trying to say that governments should work entirely behind closed doors. You are absolutely right to say that keeping actions and decision making secret hinders representation and denies accountability, but I feel that there is a significant difference between making available information for citizens to peruse, and actively broadcasting it. Policy decisions are reported on, summarised and presented by both the media and by various government departments, to appease the legitimate fears and concerns of the electorate. It is impossible to argue such a thing as being negative. However, the issue is one of understanding and perceptions. Like I have clarified, governments should not keep their policy decisions secret. However, information pertaining to these policy decisions is often complex in it's nature, and vast in it's size. So what ends up being produced is a synopsis of the decision itself.

 

The partisan nature of the media who portray these decisions lead to different emphasis on different aspects of policy. Some will focus on the crippling financial costs, some with focus on perceived benefits, some on perceived flaws in plans. Seldom do they ever display effective counter-arguments, discussion of alternative policy and in-depth examination of the decision-making process- it's not in their interest to. Their principal role is to supply information that appeases their consumers. To some extent, this rubs off on government policy announcements themselves. It is often not in the interest of the government to divulge detailed information on the policy-making process because the partisan reactions damage it's credibility. There have been several good examples of this in recent months in the UK, the principal one springing to mind being NHS reform. Now, in this case the government released the entire white paper on the issue for public consumption- within a week the public were up in arms about the "scrapping of services", the "over-working of GPs" right up to the "complete dismantlement of the NHS". None of these were discussed to any degree in the policy documentation; they are just the reactions of the partisan media and the pressure groups whose interests lie in maintain the status quo in the organisation. How many of the indignant electorate actually read the document? Very few.

 

One wonders whether what is for the most part a reasonable, sensible and well-structured would have faired better if it hadn't been disclosed at all?

 

There is nothing to stop private citizens exploring the available documentation around policy decisions. Even around classified or sensitive subjects, there is usually a lot of information available. But I draw a distinction between an individual examining the facts and summarising them for themselves. But, for the reasons highlighted above, the traditional synopses presented by the media and by government are often inaccurate.

 

The problem is that the politician is a slave to the media, who can twist their own words for personal gain. I have no alternative suggestion in regards to policy planning than for it to remain as it is and the political leadership be forced into unnecessary compromise by a small segment of the population whose very existence relies on bending the truth and sensationalising everything that they come across, but I do question how governments are supposed to conduct effective policy when any change from one week to the next is leapt upon with apocalyptic vigour by the media.

 

 

I believe that politics is hardly such a specially complex profession that it should only be left to the "intellectual elite" who practice it. Many other specialities are equally complex and open to misinterpretation by the "dumb public hoards" including the one I am persuing right now, and they can all be just ascontroversial. As idealistic as this sounds, it is the professional's job to at least explain their reasoning, even if in a very simplified sense, to the public in instances where they are dealing with them in any manner.

 

On a side note, what I see all this classification of information doing in the West is leading the countries on the very same path of government patronage as the despotic regimes they claim to counter (though obviously we aren't anywhere near there yet), and prevent decent against the government no matter how well-founded. If anything, I see the common folk's lack of knowledge being exploited by the leaders just as much as their knowledge would have been exploited by their own stupidity or opposition elements if complete freedom of information existed - hope that makes sense lol.

 

I understand what I said is generally quite idealistic, and practically carrying it out can be a complete impossibility now, however I believe that does not impede on it being right in principle.

 

You have to make a distinction between the political figures and the bureaucracy. The traditional assessment is that "civil servants advise, ministers decide", but that's an incredibly unfair synopsis of what is an insanely complicated relationship. The simple fact of the matter is that the politicians you see on television and in the press often have very little understanding of the areas that they are destined to work in. The entire political leaderships- at least, the overt political leadership- is incredibly unprofessional. The issue is that it is often the responsibility of policy makers to explain and to justify a policy which they themselves do not understand. The complex nature of doctrines such as technology, the environment, transport, economics, social policy, defence, trade and industry, international relations and just about every other aspect of the political landscape means that it is often not the political figures who are coming up with proposals and ideas, but their advisers. In fact, I can't remember the last Secretary of State for Defence in the UK who actually had any experience of it at all. The current one was a GP. The one before that was a union leader for Jaguar. His predecessor advised the CBI on trade issues.

 

The issue is that those who are formulating policy and making complex decisions have no direct accountability to the legislature- at least, not in the UK. They are responsible to their minister and department, and it is their job to devise policy, not to explain in to the public. This dichotomy is one of the principal reasons why, at least in the UK system, the political leadership are often powerless to defend their policies against a media onslaught- they simply don't understand any of it, besides the bottom line.

 

 

Oh, and isolationism has served the world so well in the past, hasn't it? Tell me, what operations were the US conducting in the Middle East at the time of 9/11? Exactly when did the US begin truly enforcing their foreign policy decision with force. When did they grow a spine and stop wallowing in the failures of Grenada, Iraq and Somalia?

 

 

Firstly, I am not quite sure what you are trying to get at here, but I completely disagree if you are suggesting it was only after 9/11 that the US started forcibly persuing it's foriegn policy goals. My family lived in the middle-east their whole lives and only moved out recently. The US has certainly been forcibly (and often bloodily) enforcing it's foriegn policy goals way before 9/11, and never seemed to have been anymore deterred by failures than now. I would hardly describe the US's stance as isolationist before - only because there weren't tanks and uniformed soldiers rolling down the streets doesn't mean black ops, coups and all sorts of other interventions were taking place.

 

The same holds true to many countries - no matter how small and regional their influences are. Even the relatively pathetic Iraq and Syria were actively persuing their foriegn policy goals in Lebanon during the civil war. And I am sure you know how now Iranian and Al Qaeda interference are infact winning against that of the US in many places now (despite Al Qaeda not even being a country!).

 

My point wasn't to suggest that the US have not engaged in forcible foreign policy until after 9/11, but to demonstrate that there was a significant chronological disparity between these events and the rise of "global terrorism". The US was most active in it's hostile, aggressive foreign policy during the 1960s and 1970s, with a period in the mid 1980's where they engaged in a similar level of action. Since the Gulf War the only principal uses of aggressive US military force had been in Kosovo (as part of a wider NATO mandate), Bosnia proper (as a peacekeeping force) and in Gothic Serpent (in a failed attempt to stabilise the nation)- the above, plus the incursion into Iraq in 1998 (more dubious in it's intent), were the major US foreign operations of of the 90's. Not a single on of these closely pre-dates a rise in terrorist activity targeting US assets. Gothic Serpent proceeded the 1993 WTC bombing by some 4 months, the bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salem pre-dated Desert Fox by about the same. My point is that, over this period of time, there doesn't appear to be any direct correlation between US foreign operations and attacks against US affiliated targets.

 

Another significant element of this is that other foreign powers who are engaged in similar agendas have not been the targets of Islamist terrorism. France and Italy have been actively involved in many of the same operations as the US and UK yet have not experienced the same kind of response. China, as I have mentioned before, make the most dubious of US foreign operations seem like children's TV programs- they fund border wars, sell arms and equipment to warlords, sell WMD technology to governments who actively pursue a policy of directly funding terrorism and who have vowed to wipe other nations, and even entire races, off the face of the earth; and even fund, organise and train insurgent groups in competitor states in the attempt to damage their stability and economic productivity. The fact that they do not experience the same kind of backlash against their own apparently "imperialist" operations strikes me as hypocritical and bizarre. Hell, Russia only experiences terrorism domestically, in relation to Chechnya and the North Caucuses; they don't experience it in relation to their own shady foreign interests.

 

My point is more that the justification of these attacks being a response to "US imperialism" seems somewhat contradictory. Which leads me onto my next point...

 

 

Besides, do you really think that the objection of organisations such as al-Qaeda is US interference in foreign nations affairs? All that demonstrates is just how poorly you understand the issue at hand.

 

Sorry man, but I believe that - they have a massive problem with Western interference if it is in a place they want to interfere and influence themselves. Goal of most civilisations is to influence and control others in order to gain somesort of advantage. Hardly anything new, and it holds true for Al Qaeda just as much as it holds for the US and the Roman Empire in the past.

 

 

Their objection is not to the conduct of the Western world, it's to it's very existence- it's moral codes, it's governmental systems and the very freedoms that define the West. Islamic terrorism is compared with Cold-war threat of nuclear Armageddon with good reason; they're both potentially existential threats.

 

I am sorry again bro, but I have to completely disagree here too. The whole notion of "they hate our freedom and equality and [insert other universally accepted and admired human principles here] and our very existance" is very much complete propoganda put out by the Western powers to gain support. Well, even they started going easy on that after they realised how much they underestimated people's intelligence.

It is just like Al Qaeda claims the West is purely concerned with "trying to destroy Islam, kill them and is opposed to all the moral principles thay live by and hold dear."

 

Same crap, spoken in a different language by a different (and much less well educated and skilled) "politicians".

 

They are not inherently opposed to the West just as the West is not inherently opposed to them. They are just trying to influence countries (which are physically closer to them) for their own personal gain, and the gain of those they believe they are representing.

Islamism and the fight against Western Imperialism is just the vehicle they try to gain popularity with the people with, just as the West uses Freedom and Personal Liberties.

 

I believe thinking they are all merely completely crazed mad dogs and general one-dimensional villians with a simple agenda of destorying everything that fails to comply with their completely ridiculous image of perfection is quite naive. They are much smarter than that, despite their complete lack of political, media and propoganda infastructures.

 

Understanding their true nature is the only way to successfully opposing them, and I think most Western Politicians know that.

 

Remember, there are no "good guys" and "bad guys". Just different factions persuing their own gains and those of the people they claim to represent. The only morality that comes into it concerns their willingness to sacrifice those not directly involved in persuit of those gains.

 

Take care mate.

 

It's not about hatred for values, equality or anything like that. Compare them to the Soviet Union, as many theorists do, in terms of their mentality and goals. Did the Soviet Union "hate" the success of the US? Was that the motivating force behind 50 years of escalation, indirect conflict and covert operations? No; al-Qaeda actively seek a theocratic, pan-Islamic world, following an incredibly strict, Sunni-inspired Salafistic variant of Islam- explaining their resistance to more liberal Sunni and Shia teaching, secularism and democracy and direct promotion of conflict within Islam. The idea of "US imperialism" is merely a recruiting tool; a ruse, a piece of propaganda that they use to summon the dissolutional and downtrodden to their call to arms- albeit one that has been grasped by the West as a justification for such actions. In the same way that the Soviet Union resisted the growth of US interests around the world as they saw US-model capitalism as a threat to the natural spread of global Communism, al-Qaeda resist the presence of the US, particularly in the Middle East, but also elsewhere in the world, as they see them as a threat to the spread of their model of Islam. As I said, it's a theoretically existential threat; the revoking of US association with the Arab and Muslim world would not dissuade them from their aims of pan-Islamism- all it would do is create an environment in which this idea could breed, and spread elsewhere in the world. The point you make about AQ being non-national is somewhat moot- Salafism doesn't distinguish between national borders, only religious identities.

 

I don't see them as "villains" any more than the Soviet Union were "villains". Presenting them as such is a blunt-edged propaganda tool that does nothing to actually address the issue. Like the Soviet Union, they should be seen as a viable threat, and one that is intrinsically opposed to the Western way of life. That doesn't make them "evil" or "good"; I don't believe that such concepts exist in strategic theory or international relations. That doesn't make them any less of an existential threat.

Edited by sivispacem

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Assange himself is not guilty of anything... people sent him info and he released it. Same as what a journalist does.

 

But there is no doubt that some information simply must be classified.

 

And regarding the pro isolationism stuff, think about the 93 ABC news interview with Bin Laden when he said that when the US left Mogadishu it showed him and his group that they can be "defeated".

Edited by Irviding
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