20101217 Hypocrisy, News, and WikiLeaks

20101217 OrthoAnalytika Shownotes (click here for MP3)


Lesson: The Hypocrisy of Defending Bad Habits and Rules (
St. Luke 13: 10-17)
This Gospel lesson is profound. Today I would like to focus on three things that it teaches us.

One: You Really Should Come to Church
The first has to do with the context of the event: it occurs on the Sabbath. This is what drives the encounter and makes it such a powerful lesson. I want you to think about this for a moment: what was Christ doing in the synagogue on the Sabbath? He was perfect and the fount of all knowledge – he certainly did not go there to learn. As the second person in the Trinity, he was in constant, direct union with God the Father and the Holy Spirit – he certainly did not need to go to the synagogue to pray. Moreover, he had plenty of other things on his plate (a whole world to save!)… so why did he come to the synagogue on the Sabbath?

Christ came to church on the Sabbath because that is what the godly do. That is what the the people of God do. It is what the Church does, and, as He is the head, there is nothing more meet and right than for him to be there.

While we now honor the Sabbath on Sunday [to participate in the Resurrection and the beginning of the New Creation] rather than on Saturday, it is the same for us. We are to honor the Sabbath with our preparation, our attendance, and our love. I know how many of you react to this; “why do I need to come to church every week – it’s always the same?!” [The children LOVE to say this!]. Yes, it is pretty much always the same; just like eating is pretty much always the same, sleeping is always pretty much the same, and breathing is pretty much always the same. Are you going to skip any of those? And those things only support your body (which perishes), while church (and preparing for church) supports your whole person; body and soul (which, through the grace of God, does not).

Moreover, if it is not convincing enough that Christ himself did it; if it is not convincing enough that he, through the Church of which he is the head and to which you profess membership, tells you that you should do it; if these things are not enough, then come to church every Sunday because you need to be healed. And if you do not need to be healed, then come to church to that God that you are well.

Two: Come and be Healed
In today’s lesson, Christ healed the woman in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. This is what Christ does. This is what the Church does. This is what the Sabbath is about: it is about healing and rejoicing. Christ reaches out and touches the woman and the spirit of infirmity fled from her. The Church continues this, his ministry. There is a special power – a special grace – in the touch of the Church. It is the hand offered in love; the one that not only feels your pain and anguish, but provides warm comfort, a healing caress, and the sure path to wellness.

The leaders of the synagogue missed that vital point: they thought that that “church” was about something else. Over time, their worship had become separated from its intent; the Sabbath had become an idol to their own misconceptions – and to their own pride – rather than an icon of the Living, Loving, God. They worshipped it instead of worshipping God THROUGH it.

Three: We are the Jews. We are the Leader of the Synagogue
When you hear of the encounter described in today’s lesson, you should be outraged at the attitude of the ruler of the synagogue. He was upset that someone had been healed in a house dedicated to God on the day dedicated to his worship. His hypocrisy should be obvious and appalling. I want you to taste his wickedness; I want to you to hate his blasphemy. He had taken things meant to spread God’s love and used it to defend his own malice. Are you outraged? You should be. Now, I want you to take that outrage, that righteous indignation at the disjuncture and incompatibility between the requirements of love and what religious people actually do in the name of their religion… and I want you to apply it to yourself and to your church.

We are amazed that this man would correct the Christ in the place designed to prepare people for his coming; but at least he has the excuse of ignorance. We have no such excuse. We confess the Orthodox Church to be the body of Christ, with Him as its head – and yet we do exactly what the leader of the synagogue did: we put ourselves above Christ. We put ourselves above his Church. We dare to contradict when he teaches or shows us what we really should be doing. In short, we turn our religion against God. The man was rebuked because he had turned his synagogue into a place where something other than God was worshipped and something other than love was practiced (idol vs. icon). We are the Jews: we have done this ourselves.

If you cannot see this; if you can not see how we have fallen into this temptation ourselves, then I encourage you to make this introspective discernment part of your Advent preparation. And don’t take the easy way out: it is all too easy to find the hypocrisy in others (and especially in your priest!). I want you to find the things in your own life and in your routine parish practice that challenge the Orthodoxy which we claim to profess. I want you to find the things in your own life and in your routine parish practice which would lead Christ to respond by saying; “You hypocrites!” I want you to find how we are using religion against love.

But don’t stop there. Having found them, do what the woman did: come here to have that burden removed. The hand of God will come upon you, and His voice will proclaim; “my beloved, you are freed from your infirmity”. And then, having been healed, join her and all the saints in praising God for all the glorious things that He has done.



  • Fr. Vasily wants me to remind you that he is still accepting beards for “poor baby-faced priests”.
  • A new charity opportunity from a listener, Fr. Mikola.

[Begin transcript: This is Fr. Mikola of the Holy Independent Halitsian Orthodox Church, representing the First Corinthians 11:14 Society offering you and your listeners a great charity opportunity. Not long ago, volunteers from our parish hosted a homeless shelter. We opened up our hall for a week to help these poor victims of American godlessness. One of our responsibilities was to make sure the men and women made it to their job interviews. Some of us would watch their darling children while others took them downtown. But it was terrible – the men wanted to go to their interviews with dingy old clothes and ratty hair and beards. They were scaring people! They came to our church and they scared our children! Who would hire such scary looking cavemen? So we got them new clothes, proper haircuts, and some razors so that they could shave. The transformation was amazing. These people who had looked like the devil had been transformed into clean and proper images of God. We were so happy to have made such a change in their lives and allowed them to have a positive affect on the people around them. Then, a week later, I was at a meeting of our local clergy fellowship, and there, sitting across from me was what I at first thought was a grizzled were-bear demon – it had such a load of gangly hair around its scary mug, then I realized that it was just a homeless man who had found his way in for a hot cup of [coffee], then, when I saw his cross, I realized that it was, in actuality, a poor priest from the northern woods whose civilization had not yet discovered the use of [soap] and razors. I felt as sorry for him as I did for those poor homeless men who came to our shelter. How he must frighten the children in his parish! Then I found out that there are many such poor suffering priests (and poor suffering children!). Therefore, I beg you and your listeners: please send razors and scissors so that we can help these poorly civilized priests and the children they are scaring. Again, please send all the scissors and razors you can so that we can help the people of the northern wilderness by getting their priests shaving. [Soap] wouldn’t hurt either.

End Transcript]

You can send your comments and suggestions – and charity appeals – to me at OrthoAnalytika via e-mail (
father.anthony@yahoo.com) or at our Google Voice Message Center (401) 405-1116. If you try to contact me via Facebook (franthony perkins), you will be waiting a bit for a reply: I am doing something I should have started weeks ago – taking a Facebook break during the Nativity Fast.



Church/Religious News:

Whelan joins us in lamenting the decline of civility across time and generations. The “therapeutic culture” which started in the late 60’s has really taken root, creating a whole cohort that has developed a different sort of selfishness than their shallow, materialistic parents. Part of the resultant change is evidenced by a changing attitude towards honesty and manners. As Whelan writes; for the new generation, “being too polite or conscious of the feelings of others is a concerning sign that you are out of touch with your core self. Case in point: Ask a college student to define honesty and the response invariably will be inward-focused. Honesty is about personal integrity, being true to yourself and facing your fears, my students tell me. However, challenged to explain their attitudes on outward-focused honesty – honesty in social interactions – the conversation slows to a stammer of uncertainty.”

This is because they cannot reconcile the demand of personal integrity with that of charity and civility. Whereas previous generations believed it was right to “find positive things to focus on in difficult situations” (and barring this that; “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”), the therapeutic culture taught this generation that “sincerity and expressions of visceral emotions” are the “new definition of honesty.” The sort of empathetic service that used to be paramount (as enshrined in Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, a book Whelan assigned to her class) is seen as a dishonest way to scam people. A clash is inevitable as people on each side of this divide think the other is immoral.

But if (to be charitable) it is simply a matter of changing which virtue, commitment to truth or civility, is paramount: have we lost anything? Do social virtues trump personal ones? Or is it the other way around.

In this case, the Orthodox response is clear: because our primary temptation (and the root of every other temptation) is pride, we must learn humility, and humility can only be learned through sacrificing your ego in service to others. Rather than being a commitment to the truth, “honesty” (at least according to Whelen reading of her students) is about being true to one’s self. As such, it is a vice masquerading as virtue. This is evident by the fact that some students worried that it was “‘basically lying to yourself’ to smile and act politely toward someone you don’t like.”

But the funny thing is that when you act like you love someone, you learn how to do it for real (Whelen turns to C.S. Lewis to back her up on this). In fact, love is far stronger when it continues despite any supporting emotions or circumstances. Which makes me wonder – will this generation see their marriages and friendships as a sham during such times? Their relationship with God? I’m afraid that the answer is so obvious that these questions are pretty much rhetorical. But at least they will have their honesty and integrity in check – I hope that keeps them comfort through a lifetime of loneliness and beyond.

This statement affirms their common history, the tragedies committed by the totalitarian atheist Bolshevik regime (to include lots of martyrdom and GENOCIDAL cruelty – how’s that for a touchstone?), how that regime’s persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church “created confusion and even chaos in the midst of uncertainty” in the Russian Orthodox Diocese of the Aleutians and North America, and how the varying responses of the ROCOR and that-which-eventually-became-the-OCA led to their conflict (the ROCOR wanted to preserve Russian Orthodoxy in the diaspora until it was restored in Russia, while the OCA group strove for an independent Orthodox Church in North America). They call for mutual repentance and forgiveness, and the development of a common witness. They also express their commitment to the Chambesy process as they “strive to achieve Orthodox unity on this continent.”

This is such good news – these two groups really entrenched their animosity during the Cold War (it wasn’t pretty); they are all really taking the high road (repentance and forgiveness). An interesting footnote is that the date is given only according to one calendar (without any Saint being listed with it, perhaps demonstrating that it is merely a civic date… regardless, it is a sign of what people are willing to work around for the sake of reconciliation).

Going back to something we talked about last week, there is a sense in we should not be surprised that the OCA and the ROCOR both support the process of unity – ditto for Constantinople: their cultures developed from being the center of an empire. Nor should we be surprised that groups that resisted assimilation by empires will eye such processes with caution (and even suspicion). Sociologists have long recognized the “center vs. periphery” cleavage as being one of the strongest. Understanding the power of this divide may help outsiders understand why the OCA has not been seen as an ideal vehicle for autocephaly by self-identifying Ukrainians. On the other hand, it could be the case that the Bulgarians, Romanians, and Albanians, preferred the OCA to Constantinople for the same reason (the famous (and righteous) rule against “ethnophylitism” was part of Constantinople’s effort to keep Bulgaria under her omiphorion). [And it was a similar rational that may have led the Orthodox converts from Carpathia to eschew the Ukrainian Orthodox dioceses back in the day!] Regardless, the fact that both Moscow and Constantinople are backing this process means that it could very well have legs. But don’t be surprised if groups whose very identities have been intentionally attacked under the protection of their “mother Churches” are slower to commit to something that might lead to the same thing again.

Me? As a father, I hope that one of the options my children have when they are looking for an Orthodox parish is one that allows them to pursue perfection as Americans. I also rest assured that no move towards a single American Church will be made that includes any sort of assimilation of national cultures, be it dejure or defacto.

The author’s main point, that Russian Orthodoxy is a local manifestation of Christ’s Incarnation, can be overstated (as by folks who romanticize the golden years of “Holy Russia”), but is absolutely true. Orthodoxy sanctifies cultures, and it is the result of centuries of such work in Russia that Patriarch Kirill has been defending in his talks on the “Russian World”. The author is also correct in his assertion that there really is no such thing as “Mere Christianity”. It is always incarnate by the Church within a particular culture. Where the author’s logic (and that of His All-Holiness) breaks down is when it denies the creation and preservation of other sanctified cultures within the alleged borders of the so-called “Russian World”.

Of course, this author does deal with Ukraine (this is the real point of the article), but he uses the ecclesiological heterodoxy of the Kyivan Patriarch and Autocephalists as proof that the parts of the Ukrainian culture that can be distinguished from Russian Orthodoxy are NOT sanctified or worth sanctifying. But even if we were to grant that the uniqueness of Ukrainian religious culture have found heterodox expressions and that this points to the need for its destruction (I do not – I only grant this point to show just how weak the argument is), this does not change the fact that independent peoples with their own cultures should be encouraged to sanctify these cultures from the ground up. And this is true whether the independent culture is Orthodox or not. This is the whole point of the Incarnation: it is not the borg, assimilating everyone into a single personality, but the sanctification of unique persons and cultures within the same Body of Christ.

Just because Moscow was the first to plant the Orthodox flag in America (at least in the modern era), does not mean that Americans should have to become Russians to become Orthodox. This is not a claim for “mere Christianity”, but an incarnational claim that is even stronger than the author’s. And if this is true of America, a land without Orthodox roots, it is even more true of Ukraine, whose capital is Kyiv [!] and whose people have, despite centuries of aggressive assimilation from Moscow and the West, retained a unique religious culture that requires only the granting of autocephaly (or at least canonical recognition) to flourish. If the canonical Orthodox world does not recognize this, then we will lose ground to heterodox groups that do (and no one wins well if they prove victorious). It is deeply ironic in being willing to bless what is already there, they would be doing the more orthodox thing.

  • The way we treat death and the dead is a strong indicator of who we are and what we really believe. Based on this, can we really claim to be Orthodox? The (reform) Jews described in “Reviving a Ritual of Tending to the Dead” are onto something.

There is a Jewish protocol for tending to the dead that “governs almost every interaction between the living and the deceased from the moment of death until burial.” Now there is a revival that seeks to actually follow this protocol, without outsourcing the process to professionals. Who can doubt that in doing so that their culture will become more Jewish? It is ritual that reinforces culture; when those rituals are lost or outsourced, the culture suffers.

We need to do the same thing these Jews are doing (and what the whole secular “Green Funeral” movement is doing). There is enough in our service books and cultural memory to create such a specific protocol. Our economy is such that it easily supports micro-industries (even part-time ones run by volunteers). The only thing lacking is our will (and, of course, a secular culture that we have joined and works against such things). How serious are we about our faith? Enough to revive and sustain lost rituals until such they time as they become normal again?

In it, the role of the Bishop of Rome is acknowledged as the central point of disagreement, steps are recommended that could foster unity, and a call for a change in the computation of the date of Easter is made. It is worth noting that this has NOT been ratified by our bishops (although the work is blessed by the North American Episcopal Assembly) and does not express the view of all Orthodox (the Moscow Patriarchate in particular has called for caution).

Paranormal News:

Aside from Stargazer’s misguided exegesis, there is nothing in our Orthodox scripture or theology about a zombie apocalypse. There is, however, quite a bit about zombies in our common culture. The point of this article is that there is a theology about the body and soul – and what it means to be human – implied within common descriptions of zombiism. He looks at the excellent (but far too gory) AMC series The Walking Dead, claiming that it assumes a brain-based conception of the soul. Presumably, this is because Dr. Jenner says, after monitoring his wife’s death and reanimation, that “Everything you ever were, or will be… [is] gone.” Moreso, it is the fact that that only the primitive parts of the brain reanimate that seems to distinguish the a reanimated corpse from a resurrected human. Dr. Jenner refers to the moment of reanimation as the “resurrection event”, but this only suggests that he (perhaps representing so many biologists) is a materialist… not that the theology of the show is. It is intriguing that there seemed to be a moment when the reanimated woman seems to recognize and even love the sister who is holding her, but this moment quickly passes. The blog article is trying to claim that this kind of materialism may be compatible with Christian anthropology, but this is Prucrustrean dreaming: we don’t have enough information to figure out what the writers’ theology of the person is, whether materialist, dualist, nonreductive physicalist, or universalist.

  • This is an old article (2006), but it raises some very good points about the need for serious scientific investigation of the paranormal. Otherwise, at least according to materialist skeptics, you are at best wasting your time and making a nuisance of yourself, and, at worst, perpetuating social superstitions.

I agree, but want to go further with two points: first of all, materialists lump everything that is not grounded in materialism as superstition. So when people act like fools when it comes to ghosts, it allows them to logically throw out the baby with the bathwater. Alas, this is true when it comes to Christian foolishness as well, to include that which poses as Orthodoxy (see, for example, how poorly presented research on exorcisms allows skeptics to dismiss the demonic entirely.. just think what he would have been able to say based on the Romanian exorcist whose actions led to the death of a mentally ill nun!). Second, rash action based on an incorrect understanding of the situation can get you and others hurt. Ghost hunting is like flirting with a con-man after a couple of beers: you make yourself the best kind of mark.

  • The Occult: Shining Light on Satan’s Shadow (Part One and Part Two). Ancient Faith Radio’s Kevin Allen interviews Fr. George Aquero.

This is an excellent and balanced treatment of the Occult. You may be familiar with Fr. George through prosphora.org (I own several of his stamps and use a modified version of one of his recipes) and his book on the evil eye, Death by Envy. The transcripts should be available soon.

Science and Religion News:

Evidently, the mechanism that explains the fact that religious people are happier than the areligious is social connectedness, or what sociologists call “civil society” (this article is from Lim and Putnam, after all).

This shakes my faith almost as much as the finding that parts of brains light up when we pray. Orthodox recognize that “that which we do not join, cannot save”. The Church is more than an idea, just as Christ Himself is more than spirit. We use the word “Communion” to describe both the cause of our union and its effect. It would be a poor kind of religiosity that was not strongly correlated with connectedness, and it would be a very fallen sort of connectedness AND religiosity that did not bring joy/satisfaction (it may well be a statistical artifact -multicollinearity – that keeps things like prayer life or a sense of the numinous).

As often happens, the materialism of sociologists (and their popularizers, as in the case of this article) hinders them: they only consider materialist explanations of why secular friendships bring less satisfaction than religious ones, rather than at least entertaining the idea that their might be something to the old adage that “Blood is thicker than water (or beer)”.

Interestingly (but not surprisingly) the explanations are completely materialistic. Evidently, the “75 percent” of Americans who pray on a “weekly bases”, and the majority of Americans who believe that “God is involved in their lives and concerned with their personal well-being” are getting some real benefit. This isn’t because they are living their lives in accordance with the way the world really is, but because their praxis serves as “a distraction and even as sort of a punching bag.” The belief in an omnipresent god is more useful than corporal beings because such a being is always available (to serve as a distraction and a sort of punching bag). Of course, such fantasies are not always useful: sometimes they allow people to stay in abusive relationships that are not healthy.

No word on if allows people to stay in the sort of difficulties which even the best marriages and friendships are asked to endure. One implication of this research is that “psychotherapists and other mental health professionals can try to develop similar, non-prayer ways to accomplish these tasks… SInce one way that prayer helps is by providing another who will provide positive, self-esteem-boosting feedback, mental health professionals can develop therapy programs that will be sure to include positive, self-esteem-boosting feedback that can counteract negative feedback in patients’ lives”. Wow. And perhaps we can re-invent the wheel by separating it from the car and making it square. Wouldn’t it be better to integrate personal prayer with corporate worship and a relationship with a reasonably competent spiritual father or mother? No. I reckon that would be far, far, too obvious and open-minded (not to mention Orthodox).

No, we aren’t lamenting the inevitable lessening of what it means to be humans, made in the “Image of God”. This is more along the lines of C.S. Lewis’ critique in The Abolition of Man. The long held assumption that the Canon of Great Books and Works was special because of their beauty and the way they allow us to yearn for an appreciate greatness. But now that assumption has been challenged by one that looks to explain such works in the same way scientists explain the development of the thumb.

But Christians believe that beauty is something ontological; our cultural frames affect how we perceive and describe it, but we are still describing something – like the God whose energies create and sustain it – that exists beyond ourselves (and within ourselves). You certainly CAN describe the development of artistic works within an evolutionary framework, just as you CAN describe Bach’s 82nd Contata (or a mother’s lullaby to a drowsy child) through acoustical analysis. But you will be missing the point.

  • Where do Our Minds End and the World Begin? Andy Clark’s “Out of Our Brains” claims the answer is more complicated than you think.

Simple materialists assume that the mind is located completely within the brain. Others are more specific, saying that there is no such thing as a single “mind”, but that the location of cognition and identity varies based on the context and task. Andy Clark pushes things even further: not only does our whole body actually participate in cognition (as when we gesticulate as we talk or rock when we compute), things outside our skin have been incorporated into the process as well.

You can see this at work when the use of a prosthesis becomes natural to the wearer or, more provocatively, when people become reliant on their iPhones, or Facebook, or each other. Clark argues that such things are more than just inputs for the mind to consider; they actually facilitate and affect cognition so much that they have become part of the mind. What do you think? Are other people just inputs, or is there someway that they have become part of ourselves? Are their reactions (and our anticipation of them) simply cues that we use to adjust our thoughts, or are so integrated into the process that they are part of who we are?

Me? I am Orthodox. I believe that I am a unique person, but that I share something with other persons, especially those who are also part of the body of Christ. I also believe that the same physical mechanisms that enable this kind of Christian fellowship (and attachment to creation) do, in a fallen world, express themselves in other (often less sanguine) ways. When our souls are wrenched from our bodies, we are able to live on and maintain our identity only through the active grace of God. We neither diffuse into the rest of creation (as in Clarke’s Childhood’s End) or disappear when we give (temporary) leave of our bodies.


Vol’ya Moment: Why WikiLeaks is no friend of mine (despite our shared enemy)

It is often said that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. WikiLeaks is an institutional challenge to lies, exposes vulnerabilities and weaknesses in our intelligence community, fills the vacuum left by an anemic and sensationalized mainstream media, and should encourage future administrations to be much more conservative in their foreign policy. I hate lies, think our intelligence community is in need of serious reform, want access to better reporting than I get from the mainstream media, and prefer risk-aversion when it comes to all government action. Nonetheless, I oppose it and its actions and hope that its servers are overrun, revenue sources dry up, and its people and sources all either end up in jail or spending their time in other occupations. After all, if Capone can end up going to jail for tax evasion, Assange can go to jail for unprotected sex and his helpers for something minor like illegally downloading music and movies. My antipathy towards WikiLeaks can be summed up with these three points (for starters):
  1. It acts as an independent spy agency, relying completely on its ability to convince people with access to classified information to betray their duty. Some folks might argue that they are simply providing the demand for something that is already in great supply. After all, it’s not like WikiLeaks had to blackmail or pay anyone to get them to turn over secrets. But the facts remains: WikiLeaks can only survive as long as there are traitors willing to feed them information. Personally, I think we are only seeing the tip of the spear here. There is no reason why, once ideologically motivated traitors (to include ones with axes to grind) can’t meet the demand, WikiLeaks or their competitors won’t use the same sort of dirty tricks state-sponsored spy agencies do. All things being equal, this might not be so bad. After all, governments have been spying on each other since the dawn of time. But all things are not equal. WikiLeaks has one reason d’etre: to undermine governments. This is worse than dealing with the Soviets. They wanted to destroy liberal democracy, but they also wanted other things – things that were reinforced by neutral institutions – that allowed us to work together. So what we have is an aggressively anarchistic organization that relies on traitors within our midst. Why must techno-anarchists emulate Nechayev? What is there here to like? Do we really want to grant overwatch to a system that relies on treason? Isn’t there a better way to do this?
  2. It makes shoddy civilian analysis seem credible. When the media uses its own sources, people assume that better evidence and access might lead to a different conclusion. Sophisticated consumers know that the media’s sources, writers, and editors all have their own biases and discount these biases accordingly. But stamp things written by people who also have limited evidence and their own biases with a classification, and people are willing to accept it as what used to be called “Gospel Truth”. Why assume that a diplomat knows what she is talking about, or if she does, that she is telling things as they are? Why assume that even unbiased people with access to lots of good data will get it right? And in the case of raw intelligence, without additional message traffic to test and contextualize the data, even something that is nominally correct can mislead the reader. Unfortunately, it gets worse. WikiLeaks learned from its first set of large releases that it could drive media production if it published smaller groups of cables at a time. As a result, they can choose cables that address issues they think are important and frame them in such a way as to get the desired spin. As a result, the biased and poorly sourced reports that the MSM used to create has been replaced (or augmented) by one biased by WikiLeaks anti-state ideology. And worse, it gets automatic credibility because it came from “secret data”.
  3. Michael Moore loves WikiLeaks. The enemy of his enemy IS his friend. But though I share many of his anti-institutional views, Moore’s sloppy research and misleading reporting (among other things) keep us on opposite sides of the field. His Huffington Post editorial “Why I’m Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange” is enough to make my point. He is right that WikiLeaks is filling a void left by a MSM that refuses to do serious investigative journalism. But he is wrong if he thinks it would have allowed us to thwart the 9/11 attacks because he has no appreciation for the volume of contradictory intelligence that comes in every day. It is easy after the fact to find the ones that were true, and this naturally leads one to wonder how they didn’t make it to the top of the pile. But without hindsight (i.e. knowing what actually happened), analysts CANNOT give credence to every message. Doing so would grind commerce and civil activity to a halt (so they have to rely on other things – and they generally do a good job with this). He also believes that the right leaked document at the right time could have led to a different policy. This is true, but allows the “strategic corporal” to determine foreign policy. Such a person is not the best one to determine which message is valuable – and political impact is a poor choice of what constitutes the truth. To give him credit, Moore’s argument about Iraqi WMD is stronger: more transparency may well have tipped the hand of those calling for a more conservative response to Iraq’s improprieties (which include innumerable treaty violations, if not possession of usable WMD stockpiles). But even then, the evidence was ambiguous.

Despite this, I do agree with Moore about one thing: the silver lining to WikiLeaks should be a less aggressive foreign policy. Maybe we are allies, after all. Nah! I prefer boring things like intelligence reform, better journalism (and academic researchers!), and a citizenry wise enough to vote foreign-policy conservatives (here I mean risk aversion, something that is NOT correlated with any particular party) into power.