Political Incident- Eyes Wide Open!

The first decade of the 21st century has been a ménage of political breakthroughs and downfalls. With Barack Obama, an African American democrat, taking the reins of the most powerful nation of the world after eight years of republican rule, a new era of change was promised. Peace and progress has been on the lips of every world leader these few years. In reality, however, the situation is very far away from a peaceful utopia. War and the profits and the power that come from war are such strong motivators for political figureheads, that real efforts to bring about peace are very rare and often inadequate. The political situation of the world today is still rife with the evils it has been enduring for decades: greed, ambition and power still dominate fairness, kindness and human rights. The recent mind blowing revelations brought to the public by WikiLeaks show the public the atrocities being committed on innocent civilians in the name of “War against Terror”.

WikiLeaks, an international organization based in Sweden and run by The Sunshine Press, publishes anonymous and accurate government reports and leaks which are otherwise inaccessible to the people. The organization is composed of journalists, mathematicians and start- up company technologists from the US, Taiwan, Australia and many other nations. News reports say that Australian journalist Julian Assange is its director. Wikileaks has been instrumental in revealing many political scandals and conspiracies including corruption in the family of the Kenyan leader, Daniel arap Moi in the Kenyan government, a covert assassination order issued by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, to finish off high ranking Somali officials, a copy of the Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta- the protocol of the US army at Guantanamo Bay- describing the restrictions placed over detainees at the prison, some of them even placed “off limits” to the International Red Cross. However, the most shocking revelations brought to the forefront till date is the Afghan War Diary, which The New York Times describes as “a six-year archive of classified military documents [that] offers an unvarnished and grim picture of the Afghan war”.

The Afghan War diaries contain over 91,731 leaked documents classified as secret by the US government and military. The documents were published by The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spegiel on the same day it was available on the net, 25th July 2010. It is one of the largest exposes of its kind, revealing several appalling incidents that took place over the course of five years of the war in Afghanistan, 2004 to 2009, including murder of innocent civilians, friendly fire, involvement of Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI in terrorist activities etc. It manages to remove the shroud of pretentious benevolence placed on the eyes of the world by America. It also provides an insight into the actual working of wars, where human rights assume the least importance as compared to money and ambition.

The Afghan War diary details various incidents of civilian casualties by activities of the coalition forces. For example, on 4th March 2007 in the Shinwar shootings, a group of US Marines opened fire on civilians while they were hurrying to escape after witnessing a suicide bombing. They fired at everyone in sight, including teenage girls in fields and old people walking on the road and also threatened journalists who took photographs of the incident. Additionally, they also suppressed the photographs that were taken. Various other incidents of civilian murder and airstrikes leading to major loss of life have also been reported. Other shocking incidents include cases of friendly fire where four Canadian soldiers were killed and seven were wounded when an American jet dropped a bomb on the building of their residence under the name of Operation Medusa. Several other disturbing incidents have come to light in this 90000+ page collection.

Perhaps the most worrisome revelation, however, is the hand that Pakistan and its intelligence agency ISI, have in this ongoing Afghan War. The War diaries convincingly state that Pakistan’s ISI is the most important accomplice of the Taliban outside Afghanistan and also claim that ISI and Taliban have hatched plots to organize militant groups to fight against coalition forces and to assassinate Afghan leaders.  This is of course a glaring contrast to the image put up by Pakistan as America’s staunchest ally in the region, aiding them in the “war against terror”. Since Pakistan’s hand in terrorist and fundamentalist activities has now become apparent, it is a matter of concern to all its neighbours, especially India, where terrorists from Pakistan infiltrate the border every day.  India’s Foreign Ministry has already released a statement condemning Pakistan’s involvement in the growth of terrorist activities and has said that Pakistan needs to stop providing safe havens to terrorist in order to attain peace in the Indian subcontinent.

Ultimately, the revelations brought out by Wikileaks are front page news of every major news organization in the world right now. Many prominent individuals in the US government, including White House National Security Advisor James L. Jones, have called this unveiling of information as “irresponsible and possibly threatening to the lives of Americans and to the security of their nation”. However, others herald this information as a sign of what is going wrong with the American approach. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) of Ohio said “These documents provide a fuller picture of what we have long known about Afghanistan: The war is going badly. We have to show the ability to respond to what’s right in front of our face: This war is no longer justifiable under any circumstances.”  As may be expected, the founder of Wikileaks has received many death threats from various organizations including governmental agencies. But he, along with his anonymous contributors, is soldiering on everyday to bring the truth to the forefront. As far threats to national security are concerned, most of the documents revealed are classified as SECRET, a relatively low level of classification. This dispels the myth that this information would be a blow to national security and also makes us ponder about what other secrets lie hidden from the public eye.

From a personal point of view, the mass divulgence of information shows us the real picture of the wartime atrocities and shoddy cover-ups done by the governments of various nations to disguise their mistakes and put up an image of care and honour. In time, the consequence of such sensitive information reaching the people is going to be significant. It makes the public ponder about the mechanics or war and importance of their opinion in matters of international significance, which is often never considered. America is notorious for her extreme foreign policy and her employment of the concept of pre-emptive strike. America has also been heavily criticized over the years for their brutal policy towards Prisoners of War and irresponsible behaviour towards the life and property of civilians, but so far no convincing, documented evidence of their rash and sometimes inhuman behaviour has been brought forth in the public eye. Now, it is finally out in the open for everyone to see. Therefore, this sensational news brought forward by WikiLeaks might force not only America, but nations all over the world to revise their internal and foreign policy. The eyes of the world are now going to be on military forces, their operation and their ethical conduct during war. It is time that the people come to know of the truth, because everybody needs to see what is really happening and how different it is from what the governments around the world wants us to think. The common man deserves the truth and its time he gets it.

Rashmi Rajshekhar

Image Source: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/1413001164/]