In his published statement about why he posted a portion of the bail for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore said, "We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had a guaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again."
The sentiment in Moore's statement is accurate in the present, but looking forward, I think the long-term effect of WikiLeaks may be more detrimental to the idea of transparency. Government officials, diplomats, and clandestine figures working on behalf of governments around the world do not want their personal communications published for the world to see. Even against the backdrop of a global conflict in which thousands and perhaps millions are needlessly dying, those in power are not going to view the WikiLeaks situation as an opportunity to become 'more' transparent in the way that they operate.
Moving forward, protective measures ensuring secrecy are only going to increase dramatically. Fewer and fewer people will have access to critical information, and decisions are going to be made unilaterally, at higher levels, by even fewer individuals. That is the only logical outcome of the entire WikiLeaks scandal.
In this particular moment in time, WikiLeaks has struck a meaningful blow for transparency and for accountability from government officials, even if many people will point to the questionable aspects of national security that the documents might endanger indirectly. But already, it seems that the people who are applauding WikiLeaks are in the minority. If Michael Moore's spearheading the support, then the cause is probably not one entirely popular with mainstream America. That said, Moore's onto something with the idea that greater transparency in government is something that would be beneficial for all levels of humanity.
Again, however, my thought is that the reactionary move on the part of the U.S. government and other world powers is going to be to clamp down even further on information management, and allow fewer people access to the behind-the-scenes decisions that affect the world. Yet, within that pessimistic view of the long-term impact of this situation, there is still a chance that some people are awakened by the acts of Assange and his website, and people are able to mobilize to demand more information from their governments.
At the end of the day, the wars being fought around the world are well-orchestrated acts of manipulation by a select few. And whether you choose to point to al Qaeda, the Taliban, the U.S. government, or the U.S. military-industrial complex, the formula is the same. The actions and decisions of a select few result in the killing and death of millions, and the end result leaves nothing resolved, nothing clearly better or worse than it was before the start of conflict. That is the morsel of understanding that everyone needs to take away from the WikiLeaks incident.