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Wikileaks fiasco shows establishment’s need to keep people in the dark

I can’t really avoid discussing Wikileaks this week, can I? It’s the big international story of the year, and has the whole world buzzing, divided, outraged, delighted – depending of your point of view.

Here in Kenya we are also waiting, some with bated breath, to know what those pesky US diplomats really thought about us…yawn, back to bed for me.

The world establishment is up in arms. Julian Assange has been arrested, Wikileaks itself is under concerted attack from governments, law agencies, other businesses. Assange and Wikileaks’ sin is to reveal to the world that which should not be revealed. It’s dangerous, you see…people should not be told what others really think about them. It causes all sorts of dangers: to bilateral relations, to national security, to world peace, to global stability…

Give me a break. When we ‘Kalasingas’ greet one another, we say something deeply profound: “Sat Sri Akaal”, which means “Truth is Eternal” (we don’t seem to follow the messsage that much, but that’s another story). Truth is elemental, essential, unshakeable – and next to impossible, it seems, for human beings to adhere to. And so we are all engaged in perpetual deceit, subterfuge, pretence and hypocrisy.

Prince Andrew, Britain’s special trade envoy, is now revealed by the leaked cables to be condoning corruption by UK companies abroad, and calling his own Serious Fraud Office “idiots.” New leaks suggest that Britain may have released the notorious Lockerbie bomber in return for oil deals with Libya. Now then, Britain… that wouldn’t be the country that is always lecturing us about corruption, would it?

Everyone, it seems, has two faces: a smiling, friendly one for the public; and a snarling, sneery one for more private groupings. Wikileaks has revealed the hidden snarl of the world establishment, and is now in the dock for that crime.

As for the “global security” argument, forgive me again for yawning. So other Arab states fear Iran. So what? Do you think they didn’t all know that? Is the Middle East now in more danger? So China finds North Korea’s megalomaniacal leaders a little bothersome. Who wouldn’t? Will that negate attempts at unification of the Koreas? The ridiculous Kims stand in the way of that, not what we think or say about them.

So Kenyan officials are about to be revealed as neurotically corrupt. Hello? To whom is that news? The only news will be confirmation of details, of which the more the merrier.

We don’t have problems in the world because of what is said or not said; we have problems because of what is done or not done. It seems leaders all over the world want to think, say and do bad things all the time – but they don’t want those things revealed. They don’t want public scrutiny or interrogation of their actions. Nice comfortable place to be, isn’t it?

Make no mistake, this is not about what the ordinary people want, which would be sincerity and authenticity in their leaders. This is about leaders having the arrogance of treating everyone else like children who have to be kept in the dark for their own good, while the ‘grown-ups’ decide everything in their wisdom. Sadly, the leaks show an appalling lack of wisdom everywhere.

Well, the world of secrets and backroom deals is gone. The fightback is happening. Polls show overwhelming support for the leaks, and now hack attacks are crippling websites that withdrew support for Wikileaks. I don’t think we can go back to business as usual ever again. The leaked cables are a defining moment in history. The information dam is broken. If people in power are forced to start talking more plainly, saying what they mean, dropping the fakery – that can only be a good thing.

But guess what? The thing that diplomats say will now happen is that they just won’t write anything down. So, instead of changing their attitudes and behaviour, they plan to make their inner thoughts even more secret. They just don’t get it, do they?

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