Connecting the leaks
In 2005, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority came up with a nudge-nudge, wink-wink slogan. "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," suggested that people could have all the fun they liked on vacation trips to that city and nobody was going to find out. A saucy Aussie named Julian Assange turned that game on its head. What happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas, metaphorically speaking. This one-man cabal of truthsayers took the fun out of U.S. embassy cables and leaked them out to the world.
In the midst of drooling frenzy to relish in other people's embarrassments, the WikiLeaks leaks have made that one thing loud and clear. Our politicians, who secretly talked to the U.S. ambassadors, must be embarrassed like drunks waking up next morning to hear about their nighttime indiscretions. I bet they are shocked that what they confided in full confidence months ago are coming back to haunt them now.
It must be equally shocking for the U.S. ambassadors. They thought they were dutifully and confidentially reporting to their headquarters. They were doing their jobs, picking up information and packing them off to Washington. How were they supposed to know that their classified information would turn into a class act of public humiliation?
That our political leaders have bared their souls to foreign diplomats was not unbeknown to us. Frankly, lot of us knew that they used to run to the U.S. embassy like a schizophrenic goes to his shrink. Even more relevant is the allegory of the church. The U.S. embassy has been like a confession box to the tormented souls of our disoriented political minds.
No wonder their thoughts got registered in Washington long before anybody back home knew what was on their minds. The government complained against the opposition. The opposition bitched about the government. The military leaders discussed options. The think tanks analysed situations.
They all liked to do it within the earshot of the American diplomats. In other words, they ran our national affairs by the Americans, something that they should have run by their conscience first. Then they should have run them by their people. May be they could have debated those issues in the parliament, were it wholly functional. What happened in the country should have stayed in the country, which isn't how it happened.
Whose shame is it? Should it be that of our politicians? Should it be that of the foreign diplomats? In my opinion it should be that of the people, whose sovereignty was ignored because their politicians consulted foreign friends in the matters that concerned them most.
So, here is the bad news for the people of Bangladesh. If they are being entertained by the leaks, they are being entertained by their own humiliation. The daily dollops of sensationalism that have become their staple in the morning as they pore over the newspapers at breakfast tables are in fact lampooning their own embarrassments. They have been freebasing ridicule at their own expense.
Perhaps the politicians understand it, and that is why they aren't giving reactions to the shocking revelations. They do not even appear uncomfortable because they know they haven't lost any face. If anything, they have only suckered the people in for one more time.
In that respect WikiLeaks amounts to an encyclopedia of national embarrassment. As volume after volume of leaks are hitting the headlines, it only makes obvious how our leaders elected in this country are often selected elsewhere. It also tells us that if people are supposedly the source of all powers, then that source isn't powerful enough.
Which explains why we have been gleefully reading about the pathetic accounts of our own abasement. Our leaders were conspiring behind our back. And, they were conspiring against each other. All of these were happening in front of foreign guests, which makes it three times more preposterous.
"Who's the more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him?" asked Obi-Wan Kenobi, a fictional character in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. If we must squeeze an ounce of wisdom out of the tons of leaks, that's perhaps one question we need to ask. We should be upset because our leaders set us up. They took us for a ride all that time we thought they were leading us.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Not one politician in the country has raised his voice against the startling facts of the leaks. Not a public meeting, human chain or even one protest rally. There is a hartal protesting fuel price hike, but nary a word when our national dignity was undermined.
Every fable has its moral. In whose country do we live? Assange, connect the leaks for us. You know the best. Tell us the rest. Please.