The candidates were not men but principles — Thomas Paine
No progressive who saw it and understood it will ever forget the beautiful dawn of 2010. The great wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, with power’s eyes swivelling sharp on Syria, Libya, Iran and beyond, stood exposed, as documents and footage from the moral abyss that triggered carnage and bloodshed flooded the public domain via a radical whistleblowing and media organisation Wikileaks. The unredacted background to the scene in the Middle East that they provided naturally deepened the sense of meaningful disclosure of truth and the sense of breathtaking opportunity for revolution. And those who had served or supported the military establishment, its NATO led wars for generations, renewing their faith with, and in, each fresh disaster, in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond were largely united in protest and mutiny, their illusions of a moral crusade for justice, freedom and democracy shorn. When the scale of allied abuse and corruption became known on the night The Guardian, Die Spiegel and New York Times broke the story of the leaked Afghan War Logs, bonfires were lit of a litany of official lies, people discussed the issue and waxed revolutionary in the street, and young and old crowded in to political debates cross counties, the world and the web commonwealth to hold the calumnies of power to account:
In New Baghdad the last king gone,
But barons maraud with freedom’s key,
Whilst soldier dumped on streets, help gone,
And go to ISIS, so pledge “we”
Varying partisan elements and expectations coalesced to make up the party of support for Wikileaks, but one theme united them like never before, or in an intensity unprecedented since the zenith of Orwell. Truth. Eyes, hearts, critical minds fixed on the prize and promise of a new society. Suddenly the vision of an Orwellian renaissance had been given life, substance and historic impetus by the radical political ferment of a new breed of wartime truthtelling.
Morover, the (albeit short lived) victory of appetite for the truth had been won against all odds and orthodoxies, especially against the popularity of the most powerful “anti-terror” war propaganda machine in modern history. George Bush and those who succeeded him sought to emulate the Winston Churchill of 1945; he also a man responsible for genocides, who had mobilised every engine of war and publicity against the world’s poor, and banged the drum for the military-industrial complex’s cause. But somehow under the disinfectant of sunlight shone by Wikileaks the show and performance looked staid and unbelievable.
The military’s own verdict on the result of Wikileaks disclosures summarized its perception of the national good, conflated with the whims and secret policy preferences of the security state apparatus, which it had long sought to impress upon the general populace. Their persistent accusation against the Wikileaks leadership Assange since he waded in to the shitshow of international politics — indeed stirring up dissent much earlier- was that it has “blood on its hands…” which Assange called a “fictionalisation of a previous fiction” in his incendiary unauthorised autobiography.
“Mr Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing” barked Major General Campbell, a US commander in Afghanistan, in the day following the leak at a Pentagon press conference, “but the truth is they may already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or of an Afghan family.”
Trying to snuff out the post-leak euphoria amongst anti imperial activist and media the world around, the charge was yet another exercise in PR and war propaganda. The Pentagon and its allies and its generals may protest otherwise, but the whole significance of the leak was that the US and British people had been swept off their feet by extravagant lies about the wars engineered by the military and rehashed by servile media hacks. Long before 2010, at every available publicity opportunity, election and inauguration the military and its henchmen enforced the same war rhetoric and deliberate enforcement of the hardline for regime change sponsored by the state, and the goodwill — insofar as it can be called goodwill- behind the project from the public lasted for years afterwards. The vote for war was a mere millenial illusion, albeit a supremely powerful one. Despite diligent lobbying and forewarning efforts by anti-war pacifist individuals and organisations it was a drunk and stubborn judgement on how the national security compromised by 9/11 could be staunched and turned to the work of extirpating “freedom’s enemies;” war could be used to buttress planning for future national security. This the doctrine of preemptive strike. This, ironically, engendering disorder, misery and mass murder which followed declaration of war and subsequent reckless offensives, the central appeal which caused destabilization and compromised internal and regional security throughout the middle east and thus worldwide, and in the ostensibly “free” West. If ever in global history, the 2010 disclosures was a meaningful triumph for pacifist principles and ideas, defined with precision and eloquence in the ragtag manifesto comprising of Assange’s and Wikileaks statements, interviews and editorials, presented to the public at precisely the moment we ought to wake up.