Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Assange and the election

As a U.S. citizen, I have deeply mixed feelings about what Julian Assange has done with Wikileaks in the past. The light Wikileaks shed on U.S. policy may well prove, in the long run, to be beneficial for the country. If the fear of embarrassment, or jail, keeps government officials from doing stupid things, I don't think that's bad. That's as positive a spin as I can muster.

The DNC leaks are a different story — so far.

The revelation that the Democratic establishment was in the bag for Hillary Clinton actually doesn't bother me that much. I assumed it was anyway.

On the other hand, Assange's avowed antipathy toward Clinton bugs the hell out of me.

I supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries. I think Hillary Clinton is too politically malleable in too many of the wrong ways, just as her husband was (and is).

Even so — even granting all the legitimate criticism of HRC — there is one overriding reason to support her: Donald Trump.

Assange, though, will have none of that. When asked by an ITV interviewer, "Would you prefer Trump to be president?":

Mr. Assange replied that what Mr. Trump would do as president was “completely unpredictable.” By contrast, he thought it was predictable that Mrs. Clinton would wield power in two ways he found problematic.

First, citing his “personal perspective,” Mr. Assange accused Mrs. Clinton of having been among those pushing to indict him after WikiLeaks disseminated a quarter of a million diplomatic cables during her tenure as secretary of state.

“We do see her as a bit of a problem for freedom of the press more generally,” Mr. Assange said.

Um, yeah ... what did you expect her to do, Mr. Assange? Cheer you on? You did the equivalent of kicking her in a very tender place; you look asinine for being angry she did her best to kick back.

Oh, and if you think Clinton would be bad for freedom of the press, you really should take a closer look at Trump: he has scant respect for journalists — and he's one of the higher-profile public figures who has proven he doesn't need (all of) them to get his message out.

But what was the second way she would be problematic?

In addition, Mr. Assange criticized Mrs. Clinton for pushing to intervene in Libya in 2011 when Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was cracking down on Arab Spring protesters; he said that the result of the NATO air war was Libya’s collapse into anarchy, enabling the Islamic State to flourish.

“She has a long history of being a liberal war hawk, and we presume she is going to proceed” with that approach if elected president, he said.

This, I can understand as a legitimate concern for a foreign national. Whether you agree with Assange or not, it's undeniable that U.S. actions can have huge effects on the rest of the world. The U.S. repeatedly has intervened illegally and often covertly in other countries' politics. The consequences have been bad. You might be tempted to say, turnabout is fair play. But maybe you should learn from our bad example instead of repeating our mistakes.

Assange's attempt to insert himself into the U.S. presidential campaign leaves a bad taste in my mouth. As much as he may be concerned by what the next U.S. president will do to the rest of the world, he won't have to live with what the next president will do to this country. I and millions of others will.

I'm asserting my interest over yours, Julian. I flatly reject your attempt to tip the scales of the 2016 presidential election. Your selective document releases are morally indefensible. And you needed to occupy the moral high ground, Julian, if you had any hope of affecting how the U.S. population thinks of (and thereby votes to treat) the rest of the world. Kiss that hope goodbye.

Unless you have evidence that Hillary Clinton kidnapped the Lindbergh baby or murdered Jimmy Hoffa, you have revealed yourself to be a supremely petty man. You don't leak documents, you take leaks on people you don't like.

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