Wikileaks and the imperative of secrecy
He is the archetypal freedom-fighter-cum-terrorist, but the world has moved on from the bomb-and-bullet mentality of Mandela, Shamir, Arafat and Adams.
Julian Assange is a cyber terrorist: his objective is the sort of glorious revolution not seen since 1688.
Or he is a freedom fighter of noble and heroic virtue, risking his life to expose the malignancy and corruption in global politics.
David Cameron once said that sunlight is the best disinfectant.
But a world in which all bacteria are exterminated is not conducive to human existence.
Those who walk in the light are exhorted not to commune with darkness (2Cor6:14). God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (1Jn1:5). Christians are instructed to ‘have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them’ (Eph5:11).
Julian assange sees himself as a reprover. The Greek word used by the Apostle Paul means to convict and rebuke; to expose.
And Mr Assange is certainly doing that, which ought to cohere with David Cameron’s quest for transparency, openness and accountability.
For why should the people not know the murky and muddled realities of UK and US foreign policy?
Why should they be kept in the dark about the systematic deception, corruption and hypocrisy of the politicians and bureaucrats who order our lives?
Is it not good to know that the US thinks David Cameron is ‘lightweight’; that George Osborne is 'inexperienced'; that the UK’s fawning ‘special relationship’ is viewed as paranoia; or that Saudi Arabia wants to bite the head off the Iranian snake?
What if David Cameron had shared his private marital concerns with Nick Clegg? Yes, His Grace knows this is not remotely likely, but bear with him on this. What if Mr Cameron had told his trusty deputy that his wife Samantha was ‘lightweight’ in her wifely and motherly capacities?
And to George Osborne he had said that she manifests a degree of paranoia?
And to Vince Cable he had said she was ‘inexperienced’?
What if he had told William Hague that he was thinking of divorcing her, while all the time Samantha Cameron believed that her husband was loyal and devoted?
And then along comes Julian Assange, who shows the whole Cabinet the indisputable evidence that David Cameron believes his wife to be frumpy and paranoid; an indifferent mother who so lacks the necessary experience that he has doubts their marriage can survive.
Mrs Cameron would, quite naturally, feel unloved, unappreciated and betrayed.
Not necessarily because her husband had thought such things, but because he had not discussed them with her.
But how could he?
How many husbands, when their wives ask them how they look in a certain dress, will respond ‘fat’?
Diplomacy, tact, secret thoughts and righteous lies are indispensible to normal human communication. Julian Assange manifests a degree of autism in his.
Openness and transparency are not synonymous with truth and integrity. And the acknowledgment of moral complexity is not the same as compromise, sell-out or surrender. Indeed, the maintenance of a higher truth may occasionally necessitate a ‘lower’ lie. The ‘white lie’ is intrinsic to global diplomacy and the art of politics: if a truth delayed or concealed may mitigate human suffering, then it is made righteous.
But Julian Assange would murder Moses and betray Israel: he would tell Pharaoh that Hebrew women give birth in exactly the same way as Egyptian women (Ex1:19); and he would tell the King of Jericho that Israelite spies are hiding on the roofs of houses (Josh2:4).
The Assange doctrine consists monochromatically, myopically and obsessively of divulgence and disclosure; of revelation and exposure regardless of the consequences for the lives of individuals and the security of nations.
He self-righteously shrouds his crusade in the vocabulary of virtue and goodness. But it is neither virtuous nor good.
For moral righteousness is not about black and white or darkness and light: it is a kaleidoscopic spectrum of all manner of shades and hues.
Wikileaks imperils the liberties of us all: the hitherto democratic and largely unregulated internet is likely now to become increasingly monitored and state controlled; the decision to disseminate a few thousand confidential US files is likely to diminish the billions of files of information to which the world has had unconditional access. France and the US are siding with China on this: the authoritarian oligarchs will become the information élites, and we will have Julian Assange to thank for it all.
Moses lived to free his people from slavery because of the midwives’ lie; the Israelites entered the Promised Land aided by Rahab’s lie. Partnerships and marriages survive as each learns when not to be entirely transparent, open and honest. If we are to avoid a breakdown in global relations and worldwide internet censorship, we must permit diplomats their discretions and poiticians their secrets.
This is manifestly the lesser evil.