Political Promise

Could Wikileaks herald a new era of truth?

In Matthew Wheavil on August 2, 2010 at 10:28 am

By Matt Wheavil

Switch on the news. Now imagine your television screen is a picture frame. Then imagine that it is only framing part of the full picture, just a single piece in a jigsaw brimming with alternative perspectives. British and US broadcast journalism is generally speaking, very selective indeed. Their picture of reality is often painted in two shades: Black and White. Red and Blue. Left and Right. Good and Evil. Us and Them.

Take George W. Bush’s 2001 announcement of the War on Terror, “You are either with us or against us” – i.e. You are either pro-American or anti -American, good Or bad, citizen or terrorist – it’s either or, there’s no in between. In the months leading up to the Iraq war, the western media regurgitated Bush’s rhetoric, echoing phrases such as “liberating Iraq”‘ “democratic values” and “fight against terrorism.” Again and again and even post Iraq, those phrases have been the Government and media portrayal of the motive and justification for the war on terror.

There have been exceptions, notably the BBC’s Hutton inquiry saga where it was mused over whether the Iraq dossier’s WMD references had been sexed up (they clearly had) and Robert Fisk has been a British journalist constantly in search of the shades of grey, notably once commenting that ‘terrorist’ is a word used by one side to describe another as evil. In other words, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

That happens to be a commonly forgotten expression that should be borne in mind regarding Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, who last week exposed thousands of secret US military war logs, including the fact that at least 195 civilians (including children) have been killed by coalition forces in Afghanistan.

We already knew Governments kept dark secrets following the lack of WMD in Iraq but never has there been evidence presented in the western media painting such a villainous picture of our own military forces.

While Wikileaks did redefine the narrative of war reporting, the problem is the brevity if it all. Open the weekend Guardian, just days after its passionate expose of the leaks, and you’ll find one of the main stories is centred on the US Government’s insistence that Assange’s whistle blowers have endangered more Afghan lives.

Have they though? There’s no concrete reason to believe it – The US Government will obviously attempt spinning media headlines to suggest that Assange is some sort of information terrorist. It’s a buzzword we should have grown weary of by now.

The truth is, yes, 9/11 was an act of unspeakable evil. But so arguably is plundering another country for oil or killing civilians in the name of fighting terror. By now we should be pretty clear that the majority of blood shed in the middle east has been more about western self-interest than a link to terrorism.

Assange has for once exposed the ugly truth – that politics and war is not Good and Evil or Us and Them. It is an extension of human nature, corrupted by power.

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  1. Well done Wikileaks. More power to them/him.

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