WikiLeaks and Pro-Life?

WikiLeaks has been one of the political issues dominating our news and radio in the last couple of weeks.  Almost daily, I hear this issue being discussed in my casual car rides while I listen to NPR. Interestingly, there are two basic opinions about the cables that are being released.  There is one side of the spectrum that wants to call out the sins of the government.  One voice in this conversation is author and activist, Julie Clawson, who wrote a great article for Sojourners called “WikiLeaks and Government Responsibility.”  She rightly points to the need for governments to be held accountable to the people they claim to represent.  My natural position on this issue, as an Anabaptist who is quite suspicious of all things empire, is to applaud when the sins of a nation are brought into the light.  Only when truth is revealed can we rightly judge what is truly just.

On the other side of the spectrum is the group who desires to silence these “leaks” because they might leak gasoline on the fire of the many peoples throughout the world who wish harm on the United States; thus possibly leading to escalated violence.  Secretary of State Hilary Clinton stated: “I firmly believe that we must condemn in no uncertain terms the dissemination of any information, whether by individuals or organizations, posing a risk to the lives of soldiers and civilians of the United States and their allies.”  Now again, as one who is not trusting of empire, I could see how the cables could compromise politicians’ integrity.  Therefore, it is no surprise that Clinton and many others in the political world would have an interest in silencing the “leaks.”

But, I have to ask: what if these folks are actually correct? What if the release of this information leads to the loss of more life in the combat zones throughout the world? As a firm believer in Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence, it would be easy to shrug my shoulders and say: “that’s what those soldiers had coming to them by choosing to live by the sword.”  And even if we do not verbalize such a statement, the temptation for folks like me is to implicitly believe some version of this distorted view of human value.

Jim Wallis is known for speaking of pro-life being a conviction that life issues matter “from the womb to the tomb.”  This means that true pro-lifers are against abortion, the death penalty, and war; and are for human rights and the uplift of the poor.  Perhaps, we need to resurrect the pro-life conversation as we wrestle with the implications of WikiLeaks?  There is no guarantee that the “leaks” will actually lead to worse violence, but it seems that the possibility of such should cause every Christian to evaluate our honest belief in the sanctity of all human life.  Our integrity and witness may be at stake.

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  • That is PRECISELY the question I raised when posted a blog about the Wikileaks being a "good" thing from a peace position. I agree with keeping governments accountable… but at what cost? Does the ends justify the means? If so, then bombing abortion clinics is the way to go because, after all, you're ending abortion, right?

    I'm glad you posed this question. Thank you, Kurt! I don't know if the Wikileaks way is the answer or the problem, but it seems, at least, to be somewhat irresponsible from a completely pro-life perspective. The conversation, by those of us who have that "Womb to the Tomb" perspective, needs to take that long view of the consequences of actions rather than immediate "bang for the buck".

  • Shari Nyles

    Rob and Kurt, you both make valid point. It seems a bit disengenuous to be talking about this (irresponsibility of Wikileaks) from a completely pro-life perspective and ignore or dismiss the elephant in the room. Americans are currently supporting the intentional and unintentional killings of the unborn and born in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan through drones and other. From my own Anabaptist standpoint there is no justification for these wars and its tactics from a completely pro-life standpoint no matter the end result. Hundreds of thousands of lives gone and displaced in our name. So far it appears no lives have been lost due to the release of Wikileaks documents. Embarrassment, yes. Isn't more transparency in a democracy healthier than less? It's a sad day when "truth" becomes subjective and seen as the enemy.

    • The effects of the exposure of confidential and classified diplomatic communique may not be immediate like a Predator drone attack. Instead, with the US reputation as it is now after Wikileaks, what does that do for the escalating situation in the Korean peninsula? Will the US be able to be effective in advocating for peace? How about the US ability to be diplomatically effective in the Palestinian peace talks? Yeah, the US has done some REALLY dumb stuff… I'm all for the transparency… but the long view has a lot of "what ifs" in it and I think, despite our feelings about the US's imperialistic view, those "what ifs" should give us pause before we act rather than just acting out of a perceived desperate need for transparency. Wikileaks does not appear to have considered those what is, that responsibility for the potential negative consequences of the actions. This is what my concern is… not for protecting the US government from embarrassment, but for the long view of the complexities of international relations that may be severely damaged by a potentially irresponsible, short-sited view.

  • Shari Nyles

    It seems the height of hypocrisy and arrogance for Washington and citizens of the U.S. to criticize Wikileaks for not having considered the potential negative impact on world affairs and the "what-ifs" that should have given them pause. This almost seems like a case of what goes around comes around. How much thought was given to the "long view" and “what ifs” in the lead up to invasion of Iraq? Acting out of perceived desperation – whether for transparency or revenge will not produce a good outcome. Asking others to consider the big picture consequences before acting will not fly when our own actions don't match our words.

    • Agreed. But two wrongs don't make a right. Continuing to act without questioning potential consequences does not solve problems but instead creates more and more. Instead of saying "But the US government didn't consider the 'what ifs'", shouldn't we be above that?

      As for "goes around, comes around", again, as Kurt pointed out, is this the proper response for a group of people who believe in "love thy enemy"? It's almost like people who support what Wikileaks did without question are advocating "Well, it serves them (the government) right. They are only getting what they deserve". Since when has the Christian way been about people getting what they deserve?

      We should be above that. Let's be prophetic towards our government, let's call them to transparency, integrity, peace, and loving action. Let's do what we can to change public opinion. But let's do it in a way that is consistent with our ethics. Acting out of love for ALL humanity includes our governing authorities and the actions they take, even when we disagree with those actions.

      Mistakes were made by the government. They made some really bad choices. They screwed up in a lot of places. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not our actions when we confront these mistakes are making matters better or making matters worse, and our view of that must be longer than the immediate future, but long term potential. As it is, Israel already doubts that the US has any clout left at all to help out in Palestine. I'd be willing to bet that the Wikileaks fiasco has added to that doubt. We can't just take immediate action and say "But we had to do SOMETHING!" Sometimes it is better to take a step back and think, "But is the something I'm considering going to make matters worse?" The potential with these document leaks is that, yes, there is a BIG potential for things to get MUCH worse when it comes to the "hot-spots" around the world. Is it big enough to stop the document leaks? Or is holding back the information going to be even worse? The thing is, I don't think ANYONE in the Wikileaks organization even asked that. They got the documents, they leaked them. To me, that seems extremely irresponsible and dangerous.

  • Shari Nyles

    I hear your concerns and quite honestly I'm puzzled. Having not read the Wikileaks I am only depending on news reports that they haven't caused any known bodily harm. To equate them as a wrong on the same level as the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan seems an over the top false equivalence.

    • You are correct, they have not caused bodily harm. And no one is saying that they are. The concern is the question of potential in the long view. Immediately, no. But note what I mentioned above concerning Korea and Palestine. Consider also the delicate negotiations going on in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Consider the relationships with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon. All these are potential problems that could escalate situations where lives could be lost. The concern raised is not "lives have been lost because of Wikileaks" but more a concern about the extremely dangerous potentials there are.

      And no one is debating here the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. What's done is done. Instead, the question is whether or not leaking these classified communiques by the State Department have the potential for making a bad situation worse. Again, I'll repeat, do two wrongs make a right? Does releasing classified state documents in the name of transparency correct the problems that exist? Or do they make them worse by increasing international tensions and ill feelings towards US personnel in the international scene?

      To come out and blanketly say that Wikileaks was right in what they did ignores these potential problems and what we as "Womb to Tomb" believers need to do is seriously consider these questions and act on the big picture and long view rather than the immediate bang for the buck.

  • Eilidh

    There's been a lot of talk about the "rights" of Wikileaks to make public this information, not so much of the responsibility. Personally I think that the acts of Wikileaks have been incredibly irresponsible. I would describe myself as pro-life (ie against euthanasia, abortion, death penalty) but I think to even suggest that soldiers "have it coming to them" because they are at war is about as anti-pro-life as it is possible to get. Just because these men and women have joined their country's armed forcesthey deserve to die? There is nothing in the Bible that suggests that nations having armies is sinful; much of Israel's history is on the back of the work of their armed forces. And yes, Wikileaks is actively putting these men and women, already in a dangerous position, in further danger. Some things are best kept in as small circles as possible. I don't need nor want to know every sordid detail of what goes on inside the government of my country. They are the people who have been voted in to power. I may not trust them individually, but I trust the democratic nature of the nation I am part of. I don't think I'm being particularly coherent here, but basically, I'm sick to death of hearing "what Wikileaks did next" and see absolutely no justification for the continued production of what should be kept as private and classified.

    • Kurt

      I hope you didn't read in this post that i believe that the 'soldiers have it coming to them.'

  • Rana

    I respect your position or view, but having lived in the Middle East for 9 years I can almost assure you that the wikileaks news pertaining to the Middle East is not NEWS to the Middle Eastern world. Some may think the Middle East is backward but they are not blinded in the same way we are in the USA vis a vis materialism/ consumerism and media sound bytes. They may be blinded about other things, but certainly the unsavory deeds of the Empire is not news. Remember the reasons for 9-11?

    This is nothing new and earth shattering in the Middle East that has yet been revealed by wikileaks that would risk American lives. On the other hand if you read between the lines there is information in wikileaks that suggests Israel has been lying about the Arab leaders position on Israel. You have cables with Mubarak of Egypt telling the USA to "forget democracy in Iraq" and the Arab Gulf countries pushing against Iran in unison with Israeli leaders.

    Why doesn't Mubarak want democracy in Iraq? Because he lacks a democracy in his own country, and doesn't want to change the status quo. He's been the "leader" for 30 years and wants to pass the baton onto his son, not very democratic, huh? And everybody stays hush, hush because so much money is flowing from your pockets (tax dollars) to Egypt, Israel, etc. Everybody is cashing in on the money trail $$$.


  • Two things to say:

    1. There's an excellent article on the lethal impact of leaks on the BBC website which basically demonstrates there's no evidence that leaks of this kind have ever caused more fatalities ( – and let's be honest here; if you were a politician that had endorsed an illegal war and occupation and documents came out to prove your duplicity, that's exactly the kind of argument you'd use isn't it?

    2. I think invading Afghanistan and Iraq with no cause, legitimacy, goal or concern for the destruction of civilian infrastructure and the safety of innocent lives probably causes more danger to troops' lives than people finding out what we already knew.

    Grace and peace,


  • 'Honesty is the best policy' is a good general rule to go by. My Dad often quoted the scripture that said "make sure your sins will find you out".

    If war is made more risky by the wikileaks, then those who conduct the war will be less inclined to do so. The advantage of the drones is that they reduce risk (for the aggressor). Evil will have less places to hide the more exposure it has. Diplomacy depends on trust not secrecy.

    I would be happy to see wikileaks about every evil, not just the government or big organizations.