Wednesday, December 01, 2010

On Wikileaks

Posted to HBR Blog, which states,
 U.S. administrations for years have portrayed themselves as supporters of democracy, freedom, and human rights. The telegrams tell a different story of intimate and co-dependent relationships with unpleasant and repressive regimes in Riyadh, Cairo, and Rabat.
Many people - including myself - have long called on the governments of the western world to actually support human rights and democracy, rather than merely giving lip service to it in public and subverting it behind closed doors.

The response has typically been that our allegations are unfounded, that we are being unnecessarily cynical or sceptical, and that if we understood what is really happening, we would be thankful and supportive of our government's efforts.

Now in the wake of Wikileaks, it seems appropriate to once again ask that our governments actually support human rights and democracy, and to mean it this time. In the same breath, it does not seem misplaced to ask that corporations actually behave ethically, and that the very wealthy and the very powerful behave responsibly, working for the good of society, rather than to further their own interests by whatever means at the expense of the rest of us.

The people who decry openness and disclosure complain that it makes it impossible for officials to be honest in these closed door meeting, to have frank exchanges of ideas, and to make the difficult deals that are necessary. But the converse is that it entitles them to lie in public, to misrepresent the purpose of their actions, and to engage in activities that, if the public were informed, it would find deeply disturbing.

Wikileaks should not be necessary. That's not to offer a blanket endorsement of openness, but the rather routine betrayal of trust Wikileaks reveals makes it clear to me that the level of openness is far less than what is needed, the right to privacy abused in order to allow the criminal and corrupt to ply their trade in our names and with our tools. It has to stop.

3 comments:

  1. Stephen,
    You are the very person who advocates that we should learn to foresee consequences. So apply that rule to this situation and the consequence you will surely see is that the kind of exposure that Wikileaks has caused will lead to levels of bureaucracy that will stifle the flow of opinions or diplomatic exchanges that could cause embarrassment, whether they are right or wrong.
    it will shut down discourse not open it up.

    So to suggest the idealistic fiction of a world where everyone is open and honest with a public who for the most part don't even understand the fundamentals of economics let alone the real world motivations of leaders in other countries is naive to the point of being silly.

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  2. Interesting reaction from rmundell.
    A call for openness, ethical behaviour, and reduction of hypocrisy "...will shut down discourse not open it up"? You are trolling, right?
    Only public disclosure of the many abuses of democracy, freedom, and human rights can have any effect on those who would arrogantly trample over those very rights.
    To suggest otherwise means supporting a autocratic regime that paternalistically believes it knows better than those who "don't even understand the fundamentals of economics".
    The real question is, why don't they understand? Is it because they have been mislead, deliberately lied to and kept in the dark by those same self-appointed guardians of democracy, and who are now annoyed at being exposed by Wikileaks?

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  3. Hi stephen,

    You are very good person, at this time, I like your ethical behavior. I should be learn some thing for your experiences.

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I welcome your comments - I'm really sorry about the moderation, but Google's filters are basically ineffective.