Arthur Silber has a great post up dealing with Wikileaks and how it confounds those who seek a level of control that can never be obtained:
Wikileaks has taken the only weapon it has — its ability to make information freely available to anyone and everyone — and aimed it directly at the heart of those who seek control and demand obedience. It has scored an immensely powerful hit. No wonder States and those who advance their policies are so panic-stricken. They’re powerless, and they know it.
I’ve often defined a neocon as someone who overestimates the power he has to use fear and intimidation to influence the behaviors and actions of others. And the hallmark of our neocon-inspired foreign policy is that we convince ourselves that we can succeed if only we control the flow of information and the messages that people hear. But unless you’re someplace like North Korea – where free technology is completely absent – that level of control is unattainable.
That doesn’t mean that we’re not trying in Afghanistan. This editorial from an American intelligence analyst who’d served in Afghanistan demonstrates how truly lost we are:
The Taliban’s media machine runs circles around our public information operations in Afghanistan. Using newspapers, radio broadcasts, the Internet and word of mouth, it puts out messages far faster than we can, exaggerating the effectiveness of its attacks, creating the illusion of a unified insurgency and criticizing the (real and imagined) failings of the Kabul government. To undermine support for United States troops, the Taliban insistently remind the people that America has committed to a withdrawal beginning next summer, they jump on any announcement of our Western allies pulling out troops and they publicize polls that show declining domestic American support for the war.
To counter the spin, we need to add the Taliban’s top propagandists to the high-value-target list and direct military operations at the insurgents’ media nerve centers. A major reason that people in rural areas are so reluctant to help us is that Taliban propaganda and intimidation have created an atmosphere of fear.
With a straight face, the individuals directing our mission in Afghanistan say that in order to combat a climate where dishonest propagandists create an atmosphere of fear among the public, that we must militarily attack those people. And somehow this will lead to the people of Afghanistan being less afraid of us. What?
Our entire mission there is premised on the ability to control the uncontrollable and silence the unsilenceable. And even in one of the least technologically advanced countries on Earth, we can’t do it. That should give you a pretty good idea of how much luck the Pentagon will have in stopping Wikileaks. Even if they’re successful at going after the individuals who maintain the site, it only emphasizes to more of the world why they too need to be wary of what those with power are capable of doing.