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July 29, 2010

The French Cowboy thinks that Thomas Jocelyn has it exactly right in calling the WikiLeaks documents a Rorschach test. Those who are against the Afghanistan war will find in those documents shocking revelations of unsuspected horrors that disqualify any attempt of justification for the war effort. The rest of us will be mostly concerned with the willful exposure of names and places that put people at risk of having to pay dearly for good, courageous deeds. As for the bad news contained in those documents, little, if any, of those is really news.

The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, is posing as a fighter for a good cause, namely, truth and transparency. His actual agenda is less universally meritorious, though, as he explicitly wants to increase pressure on NATO forces to give up in Afghanistan.

Assange seems to suffer from a disease, common especially among younger people from wealthy societies, which makes you think that other people’s money is the source of all of poor people’s evil. In the case of Afghanistan that means that the USA is the reason for Afghanistan not being a perfectly romantic place, untouched by the perversions of civilisation, with tribes people living in harmony with nature (if not so much with each other), not stuffing themselves with hamburgers, not being addicted to oil.

In fact, to persons suffering from this disease, hardly any injustice, malice or cruelty is of relevance if it’s not perpetrated by America. In severe cases, this worldview is so exaggerated that almost anything America does is considered as injustice, malice or cruelty.

It often occured to the French Cowboy that this disease can be effectively thwarted by having reconciled yourself to the fact that, in this world, justice can never be taken for granted, but that it must always be given as far as you have it in your power to give it. It also helps to have experienced a little suffering yourself. This way you’re less inclined to mistake suffering with imagined grievances, something that seems to be an accompanying symptom of said disease.

As its founder is apparently struck with it, WikiLeaks seems to try to surprise us with the fact that war is ugly. For those of us who live without hunger, persecution, or high danger of losing family, life or limbs, it’s ugly beyond imagination. This mustn’t surprise us — or we lose all will to fight the enemies of the very comforts that allow us to look at war as an abstraction.

Monsieur Assange would do well in reconsidering whom he’s helping as he tries to destroy the morale of the aggressed, the one with a history of treating humans with dignity, rather than that of the aggressor, the one that wants to spread a social system of medieval cruelty. A villager in Helmand province may be forgiven to think more of his immediate survival than of the greater cause behind the fighting in this war as he decides to give in to threatening Taliban. But Assange, with all his sophistication, information, and the luxury of mere theorising, why would he not be able to come down on the side of the good guys?

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