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South Asia: The Morality Of Exposing Others’ Secrets

Illustration by Raymond Salvatore Harmon – from Flickr. CC BY

WikiLeaks, an international non-profit media organization has created waves around the world by publishing 251,287 confidential documents, which detail correspondence between the U.S. State Department and U.S. embassies around the world. It is also known to many as the “Cablegate” affair. Some South Asian bloggers were quick to publish their opinions on this issue.

From Sri Lanka, Indrajit Samarajiva comments:

The bigger issue is that America was able to seem, for a while, like a benevolent superpower with occasional tragic mistakes. They also had the money to back themselves up. Under George W. Bush, however, the country became positively malevolent internationally and, largely through bad policy, also (relatively) impoverished. The difficult issue for the US in fighting back these leaks is that – while the leak itself may be bad – America’s actions still look worse.

Indrajit is also curious to learn what the still to be released section on Sri Lanka has to offer.

Indian diaspora blogger Supriyo Chaudhuri questions about the morality of exposing secret communications:

A question must be raised whether such leaks, doubtlessly facilitated by the new technologies of information and communication, is morally right: Indeed, one could clearly see that the governments are waging a sort of information warfare on its own citizen. Are the leaks any more wrong than the lies themselves? We have surely arrived at an age where we can, and do, demand more transparency from our businesses, public organizations and governments. However, some kind of imperial mindset still persists in the most democratic of all governments (which, by definition and popular consent, should be that of United States) and transparency and truth seriously threatens government power.

Pakistani blog Cafe Pyala consolidates different newspaper reports on Wikileaks in Paksitan. The blog comments:

Obviously in Pakistan, the leaks directly connected to this country are of most immediate interest to people here. But judged purely on the level of news worthy of geo-strategic importance and with potentially massive consequences, wouldn't you say the Saudi desire to take out Iran is slightly bigger than Abdullah thinking Zardari is a loser? Of course, that may be just my personal news sense but I still do find it intriguing that no one else in Pakistan's print media shares it.

Faheem Haider at Pakistan Foreign Policy Blog discusses how Pakistan press sees the ‘cablegate’ affair:

The right is blaming President Zardari, pointing to Saudi King Abdullah’s rebuke (veiled threat?) that “when the head is rotten, it affects the whole body.” The left and the center are talking about sovereignty as they have always done. In response, the U.S. has argued for the continued cooperation of sorts that it enjoys with Pakistan, without backtracking from its criticism of the Zardari government and without disavowing the moves it reportedly made against Pakistan’s nuclear, military complex.

The Acorn, a blog on the Indian National Interest, is apprehensive of the impact of Wikileaks:

It’s unclear whether the Wikileaks will have major consequences in world affairs beyond creating embarrassment for the people and governments involved. It’s not as if the people in the Middle East didn’t know what their leaders were up to, and what US officials thought of them. It’s not as if China is about to stop its game as the world’s worst proliferator of weapons of mass destruction just because it has been fingered in some cables. Politicians, in any case, have thick skins.

What might happen is that brakes will be applied in the trend towards sharing of information within government and across departmental silos. A process that began as a result of the US intelligence community’s failure to piece together data that could have led to the uncovering of the 9/11 plot—and was adopted by governments across the world, including in India—might come to an end with abuse of technological power by Wikileaks. ‘Information fusion’ within governments is likely to be the first casualty of Mr Assange’s war on responsibility.

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