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Sunday, January 16, 2011

U.S. State Department Downsizes Wikileaks' Role in Tunisia

You’ve seen it blogged about in many respected blogs (ie here, and here). Its been reported in many newspapers across the country (ie here and here) -- everybody is talking about it. Wikileaks started the Jasmine Revolution. My personal favorite headline is from the Huffington Post and the Washington Post: “Is This the First Wikileaks Revolution?”

U.S. State Department officials announced to the media about an hour ago that everything you’ve been reading is wrong. PJ Crowley, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, writes that the Tunisian people already knew about corruption, and it was the people, not Wikileaks, who were responsible for the events that took place. How did everybody get it wrong? Is there somebody to blame?

Not really – just our egos.

Nobody can help the innate sense of self, the sense that I am the center of the world, and the center of every interaction I’ve ever encountered. It seems that’s just what many of us were feeling when the reports of revolution in Tunisia were coming out – that because the Wikileaks reports were the first time WE HAD heard of corruption in Tunisia, then that must be the first time Tunisians themselves had become of aware of this as well.

At first glance, my gut reaction acknowledged that Wikileaks played an important role. But if you take a look at the socio-economic makeup of Tunisia, and throw in one of the most corrupt dictators in Africa, then that gut reaction starts to seem more and more like a rushed judgment. As much as the West would like to take responsibility and pat ourselves on the back, it seems that our help has been minimal.

Further Reading: 

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