Focus on the Policy, Not WikiLeaks

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We may never
know the whole story behind the recent publication of sensitive
U.S. government documents by the WikiLeaks organization, but we
certainly can draw some important conclusions from the reaction
of so many in government and media.

At its core,
the WikiLeaks controversy serves as a diversion from the real issue
of what our foreign policy should be. But the mainstream media,
along with neoconservatives from both political parties, insist
on asking the wrong question. When presented with embarrassing disclosures
about U.S. spying and meddling, the policy that requires so much
spying and meddling is not questioned. Instead, the media focus
on how so much sensitive information could have been leaked, or
how authorities might prosecute the publishers of such information.

No one questions
the status quo or suggests a wholesale rethinking of our foreign
policy. No one suggests that the White House or the State Department
should be embarrassed that the U.S. engages in spying and meddling.
The only embarrassment is that it was made public. This allows ordinary
people to actually know and talk about what the government does.
But state secrecy is anathema to a free society. Why exactly should
Americans be prevented from knowing what their government is doing
in their name?

In a free society,
we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes
treason, however, we are in big trouble. The truth is that our foreign
spying, meddling, and outright military intervention in the post–World
War II era has made us less secure, not more. And we have lost countless
lives and spent trillions of dollars for our trouble. Too often
"official" government lies have provided justification
for endless, illegal wars and hundreds of thousands of resulting
deaths and casualties.

Take the recent
hostilities in Korea as only one example. More than fifty years
after the end of the Korean War, American taxpayers continue to
spend billions for the U.S. military to defend a modern and wealthy
South Korea. The continued presence of the U.S. military places
American lives between the two factions. The U.S. presence only
serves to prolong the conflict, further drain our empty treasury,
and place our military at risk.

The neoconservative
ethos, steeped in the teaching of Leo Strauss, cannot abide an America
where individuals simply pursue their own happy, peaceful, prosperous
lives. It cannot abide an America where society centers around family,
religion, or civic and social institutions rather than an all-powerful
central state. There is always an enemy to slay, whether communist
or terrorist. In the neoconservative vision, a constant state of
alarm must be fostered among the people to keep them focused on
something greater than themselves – namely their great protector,
the state. This is why the neoconservative reaction to the WikiLeaks
revelations is so predictable: “See, we told you the world
was a dangerous place,” goes the story. They claim we must
prosecute – or even assassinate – those responsible for
publishing the leaks. And we must redouble our efforts to police
the world by spying and meddling better, with no more leaks.

We should view
the WikiLeaks controversy in the larger context of American foreign
policy. Rather than worry about the disclosure of embarrassing secrets,
we should focus on our delusional foreign policy. We are kidding
ourselves when we believe spying, intrigue, and outright military
intervention can maintain our international status as a superpower
while our domestic economy crumbles in an orgy of debt and monetary
debasement.

See
the Ron Paul File

December
13, 2010

Dr. Ron
Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

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