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Issue #1562      29 August 2012

Culture & Life

The world is watching!

The calls for the Australian government to give some serious Consular and diplomatic support to embattled Australian Julian Assange, presently holed up in a tiny flat in the Ecuador Embassy in London, has predictably fallen on deaf ears. Our esteemed Foreign Minister and noted poseur Bob Carr has “witheringly” dismissed the idea, according to one media report.


Julian Assange appeared on a low balcony of the embassy of Ecuador in London, his first public appearance since seeking refuge there two months ago.

Not that anyone expected him to actually stand up for Assange. After all, the man has embarrassed our great ally, the USA, releasing hundreds of cables the US government did not want to see the light of day. They confirmed, once again, that the US government routinely and regularly lies to its allies, its lawmakers and its own people.

Of course, this is no longer the scandal it would have been only a few short years ago. Once, this sort of revelation would bring down governments or presidents, but no more. Now, the US president openly sets aside one morning a week on which to decide who his fleet of drones will assassinate this week. Why would a government that functions with that kind of morality be pissed off at anything Julian Assange could do?

Because, thanks to Assange’s outfit WikiLeaks releasing copies of all those secret US diplomatic cables, the USA’s customary underhanded “behind closed doors” activities have suddenly come right out into the open. And they are not pretty.

The US does not like to expose its dirty linen in public. Its cherished propaganda position as “leader of the Free world” depends on its maintaining a semblance of integrity, of respect for democratic rights, of the rule of law, of standing up for the weak against the strong.

But if the US is going to go around paying religious extremists to foment trouble in countries the US is supposedly friendly with, if the US is going to organise the murder of trade union leaders, is going to supply arms to terrorist groups to carry out bombings and massacres because it suits US “national interests”, then regardless of the amount of media control pro-US moguls may have, the US is going to lose its ability to take the moral high ground – so beloved of Hillary Clinton – and will find itself relegated to the position of despised outcast, a dangerous pariah, shunned by civilised people everywhere.

The powerful corporate interests that make the policy decisions for US capital have ridden rough shod over the protests of the public on numerous occasions in the past. The legal murders of Sacco and Vanzetti, of Joe Hill, of the Rosenbergs, of many others; the unpunished lynchings of African-Americans, Hispanics and labour organisers of whatever race – in such numbers that black activists in the US were able to justify the use of the term “genocide” – and the launching of the war against Iraq despite unprecedented protest demonstrations all over the world, all point to a social and legal system in a sorry state of decay.

Capitalist corporations once dictated their will to the world. A century ago, a Julian Assange would have been squashed like a gnat. No one would have dared to give him shelter. But those days are gone, even if the great capitalist corporations and the governments that do their bidding are having trouble recognising the fact. Today, not only has little Ecuador defied the might of the new American empire, but it has been backed up by 12 other South American countries who are supporting Ecuador’s President Correa, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela.

Bradley Manning, the courageous, noble young Marine who recognised the outrageous immorality of the policies exemplified in the cables and at great risk to himself passed copies of them to Assange, should have been made a US national hero, for upholding the principles of the country’s Constitution. Instead, he has spent more than 815 days in the physical and mental hell of a US military prison without trial. The legal maximum in the US is 120 days. But the Obama administration has long since abandoned the rule of law. (If the Democrats are this unconscionable, one hesitates to think what evils a Republican president might resort to.)

On Sunday, August 19, 2012, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared on a low balcony of the embassy of Ecuador in London, his first public appearance since seeking refuge there two months ago. Speaking to the crowd below, he said: “On Wednesday night after a threat was sent to this embassy and the police descended on the building, you came out in the middle of the night to watch over it and you brought the world’s eyes with you.

“Inside the embassy, after dark, I could hear teams of police swarming into the building through the internal fire escape. But I knew that there would be witnesses.

“And that is because of you. If the UK did not throw away the Vienna Conventions the other night, it is because the world was watching. And the world was watching because you were watching.

“The next time somebody tells you that it is pointless to defend the rights we hold dear, remind them of your vigil in the dark outside the Embassy of Ecuador, and how, in the morning, the sun came up on a different world, and a courageous Latin American nation took a stand for justice.”

And a correspondent in the US, Rich Smith, adds: “Here’s another reason why President Correa was inclined to grant Assange asylum, besides as a reaction to the bullying, fascist behaviour of the UK, Sweden, and of course the Empire. We shouldn’t forget that the primary accuser [against Assange], Anna Ardin, was co-involved with Carlos Alberto Montaner, a right wing independent agent of the CIA, in anti-Cuban activity. Montaner keeps popping up as a regular supporter of South American coups, both successful and unsuccessful. Besides the ones in Honduras and Venezuela, he is believed to have been directly involved in the one against Correa in Ecuador.

“Correa cannot possibly be unaware of all this CIA intrigue, and if I were him I’d be pissed off.”  

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