WikiLeaks and National Insecurity

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An overused
term in this age of the overwhelming state is “national security,”
and I always am amazed at how people who think clearly on other
subjects fall all over themselves when someone manages to breach
the secrecy of government agencies. Not surprisingly, when this
flimsy “security” line actually is crossed, the typical response
is to try
to kill the messenger
.

One of my
favorite bloggers is Tom Kirkendall, a Houston attorney who also
runs the Houston’s Clear Thinkers
blog, and Kirkendall’s
comments on the latest WikiLeaks release
of hundreds of thousands
of documents involving international wheeling and dealing is on
the money. Before looking at his comments, however, I have a few
of my own.

The Progressive
Era, which really was a massive assault on the constitutional order
of the former American republic, was based upon a belief that “intelligent
experts” should be in charge of the daily lives of everyone else.
People at the end of the 19th Century tended to understand that
politicians were corrupt, governments generally wasted tax dollars,
and that elected officials could not be trusted. Furthermore, while
they did not like that situation, nonetheless they at least could
be assured that they could live their lives apart from most governmental
influence.

Progressives,
however, believed that they could create what everyone else thought
to be an oxymoron: “Good Government.” This would be government which
had permanent agencies staffed by brilliant and loyal “public servants”
who could — and should — make decisions for everyone else. The Progressives
also believed that the Constitution was terribly flawed because
it gave that corrupt Congress too much authority and did not give
the executive branch the free hand that was needed to institutionalize
the bureaucratic state. Thus, they sought to change that state of
affairs, and what we have today is the result: Bad governance by
the “good experts.”

(As an academic
economist, I always marvel at just how the “brilliant” policy “experts”
in the executive branch have managed to run the once-powerful U.S.
economy into the ground, and now claim they can “fix” everything
by injecting bouts of inflation. For once, I really wish that someone
like Ben Bernanke, who was on the elite Princeton economics faculty
before coming to the Federal Reserve System, would admit that by
appealing to inflation, he has no answers at all. Instead, we get
nonsense like “Quantitative Easing,” which is nothing more than
a euphemism for printing money.)

The arena where
we most likely will see “rule by experts” is in foreign policy,
and the WikiLeaks document release demonstrates just how cynical
and dishonest the entire process has become. Furthermore, the release
demonstrates how truly mediocre yet egotistical people have come
to dominate the process, and how they put millions of people on
the hook just to pad their own ego trips.

It is here
that Kirkendall really presents some good insights. He writes:

To get at
the value of WikiLeaks, I think it’s important to distinguish
between the government-the temporary, elected authors of national
policy-and the state-the permanent bureaucratic and military apparatus
superficially but not fully controlled by the reigning government.
The careerists scattered about the world in America’s intelligence
agencies, military, and consular offices largely operate behind
a veil of secrecy executing policy which is itself largely secret.
American citizens mostly have no idea what they are doing, or
whether what they are doing is working out well. The actually-existing
structure and strategy of the American empire remains a near-total
mystery to those who foot the bill and whose children fight its
wars. And that is the way the elite of America’s unelected permanent
state, perhaps the most powerful class of people on Earth, like
it.

If secrecy
is necessary for national security and effective diplomacy, it
is also inevitable that the prerogative of secrecy will be used
to hide the misdeeds of the permanent state and its privileged
agents. I suspect that there is no scheme of government oversight
that will not eventually come under the indirect control of the
generals, spies, and foreign-service officers it is meant to oversee.
(Emphasis mine)

What passes
for “national security” really is nothing more than a veil of secrecy
created to protect the “insecurity” of the bureaucrats and clueless,
short-term-thinking policymakers who obligate Americans and others
to pay for destructive schemes. Not surprisingly, in the end, the
Permanent Ruling Class that the “Progressive” system has created
respond by wanting to throw the messenger into prison.

(Since we don’t
have television reception at my home, I have not watched any of
the talking heads on the various cable shows, but I am sure that
the word “treason” has been thrown around carelessly by both liberals
and conservatives. As I see it, however, Julian Assange simply has
opened our eyes to the egotism and folly of people who believe they
are entitled to make decisions for billions of people.)

As
if on cue, the New York Times, which really is the Godfather
of Progressivism, provides
comic relief
in the form of claiming that the leaks show just
how skillful and brilliant the Obama Regime really is — in contrast
to the Bush administration. Once again, we see that Progressives
tend to be bifurcated in their thinking, claiming that this latest
release of documents falls into both the “Aren’t We Brilliant?”
AND “Move Along, Folks, Nothing To See” categories, and the NYT
misses the larger point.

What is that
bigger picture? In the post-World War II era, the “experts” that
run our Administrative State not only have bankrupted this country,
they have driven out productive people and productive entities,
involved our armed forces in intractable wars (none of which have
been declared by Congress, as the Constitution requires), put troops
all over the world, and created a police state at home. Furthermore,
they have managed to get away with it and have convinced Americans
that any attempt to do away with this sorry state of affairs is
an act of treason.

And what is
the response when this folly is exposed? Yes, arrest those who have
exposed it and give more power to those people who have been destroying
our economy and our future.

December
1, 2010

William
L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him
mail
], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland,
and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig
von Mises Institute
. He
also is a consultant with American Economic Services. Visit
his blog.

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