Stephen Collins' complaint about the Lowy Institute's unwillingness 'to extend the set of viewpoints into the wider, progressive and non-insider arena' is laughably easy to refute. After all, his argument, along with a previous post of his, was published on the Lowy Institute's blog. As were the views of Scott Burchill, who I think would also class himself as a progressive of sorts.
As for the Lowy Institute's 'narrowness', Stephen has quickly forgotten that both Mark Thirlwell and myself have written in defence of WikiLeaks. Although, speaking for myself, this is not at all from a 'progressive' perspective. It is rather sad that the political right has come to be so closely associated with authoritarianism that it is thought to be impossible for anyone from the right to defend WikiLeaks. But a healthy scepticism of government and the defence of a free press are for me essential components of modern conservatism.
Having said that, James Brown's post has helped me define the limits of my enthusiasm for WikiLeaks. One reason conservatives are so sceptical of revolutions is that conservatives are modest enough to realise that they themselves might not fully recognise the importance of institutions that have survived for centuries. No single generation has a monopoly on political wisdom, so we should be extremely reluctant to tear down age-old practices (such as international diplomacy) on the grounds that we know better than all who have come before.
Judging by Julian Assange's own writings, he is guilty of just that kind of arrogance.
And yet, it may not matter very much what Assange himself believes. In different ways, both our Canberra insider and Michael Fullilove have tried to put Assange's beliefs and character at the centre of this debate. Insider says WikiLeaks is 'not a media outlet' because it has 'a political agenda that is anti-American and anti-government.' Has Insider read The Age lately? Are all media outlets with an anti-American bent suspicious?
Michael Fullilove, meanwhile, points out that Assange is a tyrannical boss, and that therefore we shouldn't trust his judgment about which cables to release. But if Michael wants to create a character test for media professionals, I've got a few newspaper editors I'd like to introduce him to. (Assange may be a horrible boss, but I have yet to hear him accused of urinating in the sink during editorial meetings.)
None of the WikiLeaks critics have yet made a convincing case for why they are singling out this one organisation. It can't be because WikiLeaks has a radical political agenda, because there is a long tradition of that in journalism. And it can't be because WikiLeaks has indiscriminately dumped a quarter of a million cables on an unsuspecting world, because that just aint true. If WikiLeaks is so on-the-nose, why not also go after Bob Woodward or Australia's own Laurie Oakes, who have built entire careers on the use of leaks?