Can there be such a thing as treason?

This is a question no one thought to ask, or at least no one sane, until recently. But part of the general insanity that has come from loss of faith—in God, then progressively in everything else—is the questioning of such things in isolation.

Does the state, under whose protection we live, have any claim on our loyalty, whatever? Do the men and women who have died, and generations that have made sacrifices for our very existence, have any moral claim upon us? Or are they simply disposable extensions of our own ego?

The questions in that last paragraph are not entirely rhetorical; not today. I am asking them by way of explaining what I mean by “questioning in isolation.”

We live, today, under opinion-forming elites that will very glibly ask and answer a question, as if it stands by itself; as if everything that follows from the question can be ignored. They are the intellectual descendants of people who, on this issue, advanced the notion that one’s loyalty to a friend, or to one’s current squeeze, must trump the most solemn obligations of honour, and therefore exempt one from making unpleasant sacrifices. This is a view unintentionally presented in its full fatuity in the novel, The English Patient, by the second-rate Canadian writer, Michael Ondaatje.

“It is the soul’s duty to be loyal to its own desires; it must abandon itself to its master passion.” Thus spoke Rebecca West, perhaps the greatest of the leftists and feminists of the last century, who did honestly wrestle with questions of treachery and betrayal. See her book, The Meaning of Treason.

What, I’ve been wondering, would Dame Rebecca have said, about the casual treachery of The New York Times, and other media who have cooperated with Wikileaks in return for advance access to their stolen documents—as if this were a straightforward business arrangement?

The total hypocrisy of the Times has been exposed by several of my right-wing colleagues, who have juxtaposed the paper’s various self-justifications. The Times smugly refused, for instance, to print or link any “Climategate” revelations of a global warming scam, because “the documents appear to have been acquired illegally,” and “were never intended for the public eye.” But when an opportunity arises to publish potentially devastating state secrets, they do so without hesitation “in the public interest.” And the smugness is the same.

Paradoxically, these documents confirm everything the Times and like-minded media have not been reporting for the last few years.

That Arab leaders have been begging the U.S. to take military action against Iran, or at least stop appeasing a regime they compare to Hitler’s; that Egypt fears Hamas more than Israel; that Iran rearms Hezbollah in Lebanon under cover of the Red Cross; that Iran and Syria are hand in glove; that North Korea has been trading lethal weaponry to Iran, with Chinese encouragement; that the Turkish government is alarmingly Islamist, and has become a cuckoo in the nest of NATO; that the Emir of Qatar is double-dealing—all these things which “paranoid right wing” types such as yours truly have long known (and been reporting in this column)—are confirmed in the documents.

One might express frustration, that U.S. diplomatic, military, and intelligence agencies did not make much of this public, long ago. For it has struck me, repeatedly, that the U.S. government has been fighting world opinion with two hands tied behind its back.

All this can be fairly stated, and yet it does not change the nature of the crime. A conscious act of treason has been performed—very smugly—and there is yet no prospect that anything will be done about it. Wikileaks continues to publish privileged U.S. diplomatic traffic day by day, with the full co-operation of the world’s “progressive” media, and with the impunity that is granted by an elite “liberal” culture, which lives in something like Michael Ondaatje’s moral universe.

Which is unfortunately the alternative universe from which Barack Obama stepped, when he became president. He evidently does not have the intellectual equipment to understand the grave duties he has assumed. And that includes the duty to do something about open acts of treason.

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