The Nation: Ron Paul's Fight For Transparency WikiLeaks has been criticized by both the Obama administration and Republicans who feel that U.S. foreign policy has been endangered. But John Nichols of The Nation argues that both are wrong, and that Rep. Ron Paul understands that instead of shrouding U.S. foreign policy in secrecy, we should improve it.

The Nation: Ron Paul's Fight For Transparency

Ron Paul arrives at the a movie premiere in Los Angeles. Paul has said that instead of worrying about the embarrassment of the WikiLeaks cable release, we should be focused on changing U.S. foreign policy. Jason Merritt/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

John Nichols is the Washington correspondent for The Nation. He is also the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Obama administration condemns WikiLeaks in the most extreme terms, with White House spokesman Robert Gibbs referring to the people involved in the leaking and distribution of diplomatic cables as "criminals," and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton describing the latest WikiLeaks revelations as an " attack on America's foreign policy interests." Attorney General Eric Holder talks of using the Espionage Act and other tools to go after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Democrats in Congress echo the criticisms -- with Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair John Kerry ripping Assange for having done "real damage" to U.S. interests -- or simply remain silent. Some are openly working with neoconservative Republicans to come up with new laws to restrict the flow of information about U.S. foreign policy,

Is anyone in official Washington standing up for transparency? Is anyone saying that we should be more concerned about the revelations of wrongdoing than killing the messenger?

Yes, if you count Texas Congressman Ron Paul as a resident of official Washington.

The Texas Republican who has long been the sternest critic in Congress of the imperial ambitions of presidents of both parties, rejects the notion that WikiLeaks is the problem.

"Rather than worry about the disclosure of embarrassing secrets we should focus on our delusional foreign policy," argues Paul, who has run for the presidency as both the Libetarian nominee and a Republican primary candidate. "We are kidding ourselves when we believe spying, intrigue and outright military intervention can maintain our international status as a superpower while our domestic economy crumbles in an orgy of debt and monetary debasement."

"Don't Blame WikiLeaks!" argues Paul, in a statement that begins: "We may never know the whole story behind the recent publication of sensitive U.S. government documents by the Wikileaks organization, but we certainly can draw some important conclusions from the reaction of so many in government and media. At its core, the Wikileaks controversy serves as a diversion from the real issue of what our foreign policy should be. But the mainstream media, along with neoconservatives from both parties, insists on asking the wrong questions. When presented with embarrassing disclosures about U.S. spying and meddling, the policy that requires so much spying and meddling is not questioned. Instead the media focuses on how authorities might prosecute the publishers of such information. Unfortunately no one questions the status quo or suggests a wholesale rethinking of our foreign policy. No one suggests that the White House or the State Department should be embarrassed that the U.S. engages in spying and meddling. The only embarrassment is that it was made public! This allows ordinary people to actually know and talk about what the government does."

Calling out the critics of WikiLeaks, Paul says, "The neoconservative ethos, steeped in the teachings of Leo Strauss, cannot abide an America where individuals simply pursue their happy, peaceful, prosperous lives. It cannot abide an America where society centers around family, religion or civic and social institutions rather than an all-powerful central state. There is always an enemy to slay, whether communist or terrorist. In the neoconservative vision, a constant state of alarm must be fostered among the people to keep them focused on something greater than themselves, namely their great protector -- the state. This is why the neoconservative reaction to Wikileaks revelations is so predictable. They say, 'See, we told you, the world is a dangerous place,' so goes their claim. 'We must prosecute or even assassinate those responsible for publishing the leaks. Then we must redouble our efforts to police the world by spying and meddling better with no more leaks,' so they say."

Paul does not buy that line.

Instead, he says, "We should view the Wikileaks controversy in the larger context of American foreign policy."

The congressman is right to make that point, as he is when he argues that:

"State secrecy is anathema to a free society. Why exactly should Americans be prevented from knowing what their government is doing in their name? In a free society we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, however, we are in big trouble. The truth is that our foreign spying, meddling and outright military intervention in the post–World War II era has made us less secure, not more, and we have lost countless lives and spent trillions of dollars for our trouble. Too often it's the official government lies that have given us endless and illegal wars resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and casualties."