On Wikileaks and warfare

Josh Mull, in a post here and elsewhere, takes me slightly to task for saying Assange is engaging in asymmetrical warfare, because it’s not warfare at all and saying so will just provoke the government to retaliate.

Point well taken, but when his supporters can take down major websites, even if the targets are symbolic (no credit card transactions were lost in the DDOS attacks against Visa and MasterCard) and Assange continues to be worldwide news and governments are getting twitchy about what might be released next, then we do have a tiny non-State player who is having dramatic impact against major governments. It’s not asymmetrical armed warfare, to be sure, but the tactics are the same, so perhaps we should call it asymmetrical info warfare. Whatever its name, it’s new, with the playing field being the Internet.

Also, my original post, wondering why Assange was seemingly so reckless was posted I knew about his Doomsday option via the encrypted cable files. With that, he does have real clout and thus can speak more boldly.

So is he the digital equivalent of a bomb throwing anarchist? He believes all governments are corrupt, which essentially is an anarchist stance, and says the cables contain damning information on dozens of them. So he’s not choosing targets and doesn’t much care who gets hit.

Mull concludes

I am not an insurgent, and neither are you. Until we realize that, until we understand the difference between journalism and war, then the government will continue to claim it’s acting in self-defence.

Stop giving the government an excuse for repression. Stop calling Wikileaks “warfare”.

What Wikileaks is doing has never been done before on this scale. Our emerging world of digital media makes it simple to download and transmit such files. There will be many more Wikileaks in the future, and from all over the political spectrum too. It certainly isn’t armed warfare, but it is having major effects just the same.

As for governments using our words to justify repression, they are quite capable of doing that on their own. I think they’re just gobsmacked by Wikileaks and don’t really know how to respond. But when you have Sen. Lieberman saying he wants the NY Times investigated for publishing the cables, then he has declared war on them and on free speech itself. So, whether you are a journalist or fancy yourself an info-warrior, your response should be the same to defend Wikileaks.

One comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.