WikiLeaks vs. the Political Class

Why they hate Julian Assange

by , December 01, 2010

Rep. Peter King characterizes WikiLeaks as a “terrorist” organization, but who’s the real terrorist-supporter? Wasn’t it Rep. King who signed a statement of support for the “National Council of Resistance,” a front for the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), which appears on the State Department’s list of designated terrorist organizations? The MEK has killed American diplomatic personnel, and is described as a fanatic cult by many observers: its supporters, who adhere to a weird combination of Marxism and Islam, were  succored by Saddam Hussein in Iraq before the US invasion, where they still persist (under US guard) to this day.

King’s support for terrorism doesn’t stop there, however: he is also a fervent booster of the “Real IRA,” an Irish Republican terrorist organization that plants bombs and assassinates its enemies. As a supporter of Irish Northern Aid, King lent his name and  prestige to a group that was buying weapons for the “Real” IRA, which were used to murder civilians as well as British government officials and police.

If anyone should be accused of support for terrorism – material support – it’s King, and the only reason he’s not been charged is because there are two sets of laws in this country, one for us lowly plebs, who might travel to, say, Colombia, or Palestine, and meet with someone our government doesn’t approve of, and another set of laws for the political class, the members of which can do anything [.pdf] they damn well please as long as they don’t inconvenience higher-ups in the DC food chain.

Speaking of the political class, listen to William Kristol, the little Lenin of the neocons, as he dispenses advice to the Obama-ites on how to deal with WikiLeaks:

“From now on, a policy of no comment about anything in any of these documents should be the absolute rule. No apologies, no complaints, no explanations, no excuses. No present or former government official should deign to discuss anything in these documents. No one in the executive branch should confirm or deny the accuracy of any document. No one should hasten to reassure any foreign leader of anything, or seek to put any cable in context. No one in Congress should cite anything in these documents to make a point about any issue. The entire American government and political class should simply go about its important foreign policy business, and treat these leaks as beneath contempt, and beneath comment.”

Kristol and his ilk don’t believe they’re answerable to anyone but other members of the “political class” – because, don’t you know, they’re above reproach, or criticism of any kind. Sniffy disdain is the only possible response to any attempt to question their royal prerogatives. These Bourbons have learned nothing in the past decade, during which their failed policies have visited disaster on American foreign policy and the peoples of the Middle East – and, what’s more, they don’t care to learn anything. They would rather close their eyes and ears, and just “go about their important foreign policy business,” wreaking murder and mayhem in their wake, while the rest of the world marvels at the enormity of their crimes,  and the small-mindedness of the chief criminals.

Kristol’s prescription perfectly expresses the neoconservative view of power and its proper exercise: the common people who pay for our overseas empire have no right to know about, let alone criticize, our overseas shenanigans. Their role is simply to subsidize the whole mess, and let their betters (i.e. Kristol, various Kagan family members, and the laptop bombardiers at AEI and Heritage) determine policy. How dare the hoi polloi interfere!

This is a perfectly natural impulse on the part of the political class, of which Kristol is an exemplar: secrecy is essential to the success of their most important scams operations, and always has been. That’s where the tremendous resistance on the part of the Establishment to Ron Paul’s campaign to audit the Federal Reserve is coming from. If the American people knew, in detail, what scams were robbing them blind, and what murderous plots were being carried out in their name, they’d rebel – and we can’t have that!

Which brings to mind a particular item from the WikiLeaks document release, a cable from Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, a small Central Asian nation where the US had to make a major effort to keep Manas air force base from being dismantled by the local authorities, who were demanding more “foreign aid” as the price to keep it open. Meeting with the Chinese ambassador, our own envoy “mentioned that Kyrgyz officials had told her that China had offered a $3 billion financial package to close Manas Air Base and asked for the Ambassador’s reaction to such an allegation.”

According to this self-serving and prolix missive, Ambassador Zhang was “visibly flustered,” and even “temporarily lost the ability to speak Russian and began spluttering in Chinese to the silent aide diligently taking notes right behind him.” Our ambassador continues:

“Composing himself, Zhang inquired if maybe the Kyrgyz had meant the trade turnover between the two countries, which he claimed was about $3 billion a year.  When disabused of that notion, Zhang went on at length to explain that China could not afford a $3 billion loan and aid package.  ‘It would take $3 from every Chinese person” to pay for it.  If our people found out, there’d be a revolution,’ he said.  ‘We have 200 million people unemployed” because of the downturn in exports, he said, and millions of disabled and others who need help from the government.’”

“If our people found out, there’d be a revolution” – and that is precisely the point. That’s why Kristol and the war-bots are frothing at the mouth over WikiLeaks’ latest coup. Because if the American people really understood what was being done in their name, and at their expense, they’d rise up as one and deliver one thumping kick in the ass to the entire political class. There would indeed be a revolution – which is why WikiLeaks is being excoriated by both the right and and the left, by Clare McCaskill (on CNN the other day) as well the Fox News types.

Curiously, it looks like the Chinese political class is much more sensitive to popular sentiment than our own mandarins, at least when it comes to foreign adventurism and extravagant spending abroad. As the dialogue between the two ambassadors continues, the essential cluelessness of the American envoy – one Tatiana Gfoeller, career diplomat and former Consul General of the US embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – comes through as she continues to press Ambassador Zhang:

The Ambassador then asked what Zhang thought about the $2 billion plus Russian deal with Kyrgyzstan.  After some hemming and hawing, Zhang said it was ‘probably true’ that the Russian assistance was tied to closing Manas.  Asked if he had any concerns about the Kyrgyz Republic falling ever deeper into the Russian sphere of influence and whether China had any interest in countering this, he answered that Kyrgyzstan was already in that sphere, and China had no interest in balancing that influence.  ‘Kyrgyzstan is Russia’s neighbor,’ he intoned … ‘And when the Kyrgyz ask me about this, I always tell them that a neighbor is a gift from God.’  As for China’s interests in the Kyrgyz Republic, he stated flatly:  ‘We have only commercial interests here.  We want to increase investment and trade.  We have no interest in politics.’  He claimed that some Kyrgyz had argued for China to open a base in Kyrgyzstan to counterbalance Russian and American influence in the country, but China has no interest in a base.  ‘We want no military or political advantage. Therefore, we wouldn’t pay $3 billion for Manas,’ he argued.”

It never occurs to Ambassador Gfoeller that maybe, just maybe, the Kyrgyz came up with that story about an alleged Chinese offer of $3 billion because they want to create the illusion of a three-way bidding war – and wring more money out of the extravagant Americans. Zhang, the Communist, is more cost-conscious than Gfoeller, supposedly the representative of a capitalist country, and, what’s more, he is full of good advice about how to get the best price:

“Zhang asked the Ambassador whether the U.S. would negotiate to keep the Base open.  The Ambassador answered that the U.S. side was evaluating its options. Zhang then offered his ‘personal advice.’ ‘This is all about money,’ he said.  He understood from the Kyrgyz that they needed $150 million.  [Gfoeller] explained that the U.S. does provide $150 million in assistance to Kyrgyzstan each year, including numerous assistance programs.  Zhang suggested that the U.S. should scrap its assistance programs.  ‘Just give them $150 million in cash’ per year, and ‘you will have the Base forever.’  Very uncharacteristically, the silent young aide then jumped in: ‘Or maybe you should give them $5 billion and buy both us and the Russians out.’  The aide then withered under the Ambassador’s horrified stare.”

That young aide just couldn’t help himself. The Americans – bankrupts going around the world throwing money out of airplanes – just beg to be mocked. Ambassador Gfoeller, fortunately for her self-esteem, didn’t seem to get it. In any case, as it turned out, we wound up having the yearly rent on the Manas base tripled, to $60 million, in addition to paying $150 million in “assistance” programs.

Our policy of global interventionism doesn’t come cheap: if you add the military budget to a great deal of the operational costs of the US government, what you end up with is the total cost of our overseas Empire – an enterprise that is enormously lucrative for a very small minority of Americans, and hideously burdensome for the rest of us. And then there are the moral costs of supporting dictators, sucking up to numerous sleazeballs, and generally treating the peoples of the world like pawns in a game.

“We have only commercial interests here.  We want to increase investment and trade.  We have no interest in politics” – this is a foreign policy that makes sense for a republic of traders and entrepreneurs. Why is it that it has to be enunciated by a representative of a Communist state?

The way Julian Assange is releasing these cables is a stroke of genius, because the cumulative effect paints a devastating portrait of a policy wielded by spendthrift know-it-alls, one designed to do nothing but enrich the undeserving and empower the worst. As the foibles of our preening viceroys are publicized, and the enormous scale of the waste and fraud comes to the attention of the American people, a revolution is indeed possible. That’s why the Establishment of both parties, and pundits on the neocon right and the Obama-ite left, are out to knife Assange and bring down WikiLeaks. They may fight about how much to raise the retirement  age, and  how to divide the tax loot, but when it comes to defending the Empire – and the cult of secrecy that sustains it in a “democratic” Imperium such as ours – they stand united, both red and blue. That’s why Chris Matthews can smear Assange as a “rapist,” even though he knows it’s a trumped-up charge, and neoconnish “libertarian” Michael Moynihan – who believes the very idea of any US government pressure on the Swedish government to harass Assange is only credible to “wild-eyed, spittle-flecked conspiracists [sic] bloggers” – can get in on the act, too.

Oh, but of course the US government – our government – would never do anything so rude, so crass, so un-libertarian as to try to discredit a prominent critic through sexual innuendo or other dirty tricks. Now would it?

The smear campaign against Assange is a disgrace, and good for him for walking out of an interview when his interlocutor insisted on pursuing the “rape” angle. And bravo for making the New York Times go to the Guardian for the cables: that Timesprofile” of Assange was another in a long series of smear pieces that have appeared in our court press with suspicious regularity. This is the price some “journalists” pay for access to the corridors of power, and they’re not only willing but downright eager to pay it. Jobs in journalism are hard to come by these days.

One thing I personally appreciate about the WikiLeaks mega-dump is that it provides me with plenty to write about for the next few years, at least. There is so much material here that one could hardly hope to cover it all, and pick up all the little gems that are just waiting to be discovered by the avid researcher. For some time to come I’ll be mining this rich lode –  rich with meaning, and heavy with lessons for critics of the interventionist foreign policy consensus.

Read more by Justin Raimondo