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kykoay Male
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 30
  #2 Old 14-01-2011 Default Re: Debate Battle 1: Is Wikileaks justified for the greater good?

Neutral Opinion
Security is a zero-sum affair in international relations. One state’s or alliance’s gain in security is at the expense of an opposing state’s or alliance’s. The challenge to most states lies in balancing national security and civil liberty. Whether or not Wikileaks serves the greater good is contingent upon the extent its disclosed cables influence the tradeoff between national security and liberty. The thrust of the debate from my perspective thus lie in the countervailing forces of the marginal information to promote civil liberty brought by Wikileaks’ promotion of transparency against the marginal threat to national security that required secrecy.

Even good states commit evil sins. In pursuing national security the British Empire merciless suppressed its colonies by force - the Amritsar Massacre immediately comes to mind. Yet public pressure and dissenting internal voices fuelled by the press reined the British Empire’s violent tendencies. Hence, transparency is paramount so that citizens are aware of atrocities committed under their name. The Wikileaks cables released so far contain embarrassing news, but nothing that threatens national security. Were Congress to declare war on Iran, Americans may object to the caving in of the pressure exerted by America’s allies at the Gulf (as per the content of a leaked cable). Human right abuses of American soldies are exposed and can be dealt with swiftly. It is in instances like this that Wikipedia advances universal civil liberty without threatening a state’s security.

The argument challenging Wikileaks advancement of the greater good requires some counterfactual thinking. If the cables were to reveal classified military information - an assessment of a nation’s defense vulnerability for example – then it is unlikely that such additional information to promote civil liberty can ever outweigh the compromise on national security. Animals in the wild rarely engage in direct fight because none is certain of victory. In our world, peace prevails when two states are equally uncertain about each others’ military might, and thus disputes are contained in diplomatic tit-for-tat rather than interactions of mutual destruction. If however a cable detailing military vulnerability removes the uncertainty, then war becomes more probable as combat supplants negotiation as a preferable exercise of power.

Journalism, like science, is not the pursuit of truth at all cost. Journalism is governed by ethics as it affects the countervailing forces of national security and civil liberty. The greater good is served when the marginal benefit outweighs the marginal cost.

Last edited by kykoay; 14-01-2011 at 08:41 AM. Reason: To space out paragraphs, compliance to reader request
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