For Europe, WikiLeaks offers cyberdrama with Julian Assange as main character
Many European analysts question the motives of WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. Is he at the vanguard of a new era of transparency or a misguided rebel whose radical doctrine will curtail expression?
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Dominique Moisi of the French Institute of International Relations points out that the French public has a similar view of Mr. Sarkozy as the US – and that “deciphering Sarkozy” has become an “obsession” here.Skip to next paragraph
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Reactions across Europe
Likewise, Italian novelist and philosopher Umberto Eco argues that much of what the US embassy in Rome said about Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi is a retread of what the Italian press (the Italian press not owned by Mr. Berlusconi) has written about him.
Indeed, European capitals have been embarrassed but more dismissive of the cables.
Assange: transparency advocate or misguided rebel?
In France, many are instead more interested in Assange's ideology, and trying to sort out whether he’s the advanced guard of an era of useful public disclosure or a misguided rebel whose transparency will curtail expression. For example, will the leaks harm useful diplomacy in sensitive areas, such as human rights, that require secrecy?
How can one sort out conflicts and crisis without secrecy, asks Jean-Claude Monod at CNRS in Paris. He points to the late political philosopher Hannah Arendt arguing that one of the most difficult tasks of political thought in the 20th century was to find the right balance of a sphere of secrecy in democratic space, while warning "the light of publicity obscures everything.”
Rue 89, the Paris online daily, this week gave out the address of Assange’s blog journals at IQ.org, a website no longer functioning.
In one he writes that he wishes to “cast blessings on the profits and prophets of truth, on the liberators and martyrs of truth, on the Voltaires, Galileos, and Principias of truth, on the Gutenburgs, Marconis and Internets of truth, on those serial killers of delusion, those brutal, driven and obsessed miners of reality, smashing, smashing, smashing every rotten edifice until all is ruins and the seeds of the new.”
“I don’t know what to make of this guy,” says one editor of a Paris scholarly journal. “He scares me. But I hope WikiLeaks will be useful in the long term.”