Friday, December 10, 2010

Assange and JFK

Supporters of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks insist that they are preventing government abuses and providing transparency. If so, I wonder how they feel about this real-life example, the Cuban Missile Crisis?

During the Fall of 1962, US intelligence discovered that the USSR was arming communist Cuba with nuclear missiles capable of striking most of the US. JFK demanded that they be removed and blockaded Cuba. The USSR demanded that we lift the blockade and refused to remove their missiles as long as we have missiles in Turkey that could reach the USSR.

Things heated up. The US began planning on bombing the missiles. Castro and Che were all for obliterating New York City. We came closer to a nuclear war than any other time in history.

Then things were settled. The agreement was that the USSR would remove its missiles. In exchange we would lift the embargo on Cuba and promise that we would never invade it. We also agreed to remove our missiles from Turkey but this was kept a strict secret. JFK had campaigned on a platform of military strength. It would have killed him politically if it was known that he backed down from the USSR so this was a deep secret. JFK insisted that if this got out, the deal was off and we were back to the brink of nuclear war. In accordance, it was kept a secret until the fall of the USSR and the release of its archives.

40 years later we have WikiLeaks and it founder, Julian Assange who does not see why any government should be allowed to keep secrets. Right now he only hopes that his leaks will cause the US to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq but what if he had been around in 1962 and had access to JFK's secret deal. Would he still believe that government secrets are bad or would he release the information even if it meant restarting a nuclear confrontation?

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