August 17, 2012

Summer silly season is upon us. First, three girls from the Russian punk band Pussy Riot are on trial in Moscow for the heresy of mocking Vlad Putin and the Orthodox Church.

Second, a Swedish public relations firm dropped teddy bears over Belarus, making fun of its humorless dictator, Alexander Lukashenko. He ordered Belarussian air defenses on high alert.

Now comes the uproar in London over provocateur and bad boy Julian Assange. It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

Assange, founder of Wikileaks, sought political asylum two months ago in Ecuador’s London Embassy to escape Britain’s attempts to deport him to Sweden.

Assange is wanted for questioning by Swedish police over seemingly flimsy charges by two dubious female friends of his of “sexual misbehavior,” whatever that is. So far, Assange has not been charged with any crime.

But if Assange returns to Sweden, he risks being extradited to the United States where his massive revelations of US government diplomatic and military emails infuriated Washington and led to demands he be charged with treason and espionage, both of which carry the death penalty. Sending Assange to the US and the risk of execution would probably violate the European Union’s laws and human rights conventions.

It’s unlikely Assange would get a fair trial in the US which is gripped by national security mania. At best, he would likely face a long sentence in solitary confinement in one of America’s dreaded ‘supermax’ prisons under conditions human rights groups call torture.

In a clear violation of the Vienna Convention, Britain threatens to arrest Assange by invading Ecuador’s London Embassy, provoking a major diplomatic crisis that would threaten its own diplomatic posts around the world to invasion.

Why, one asks, is Britain stirring up such a storm when Assange was only a visitor? Australia has ducked this issue, preferring to throw its citizen to the wolves. Sweden and Britain have come across as being rather too compliant with US demands.

Just about everyone knows that Washington is behind efforts to corral Assange and ship him to America for trial though his alleged misdeeds were all done outside the US.

We are seeing the relentless extension of US law abroad: under this new doctrine, those who commit acts deemed hostile to the US can be arrested or kidnapped overseas – even if they had never visited the United States.

Ecuador is defying a very angry Uncle Sam by sheltering Assange. A storm of Yankee fury will fall on this small Latin American leftist republic that is friendly to Venezuela, Cuba and, gasp, Iran.

Latin America may rally behind plucky Ecuador as traditional anti-Americanism and claims of Yankee bullying are aroused.
Ecuador’s populist president, Rafael Correa, is likely to emerge as a new Latin American hero. EU critics will lambaste Britain as a human rights violator and American toady.

Looking back over the whole Wikileaks business, it’s difficult to conclude that the US was seriously damaged or endangered by the emails released by edited Wikileaks. There was nothing life-threatening or earth-shaking in them. But the leaks were terribly embarrassing for Washington, revealing to the public its often muscular exercise of power, strong-arming other nations, and often dim opinions of so-called allies – nothing we professional journalists didn’t already know.

Assange was a crusading journalist who succeeded in exposing the dirty underwear of big government. His Wikileaks showed that the US-led war in Afghanistan was truly lost, contrary to Washington’s cheery spin – just a much as the famed “Pentagon Papers” of the 1970’s revealed and debunked official the lies about the Vietnam War. At the time, Daniel Ellsberg, the patriotic official who released the “Pentagon Papers,” was also denounced as a traitor.

No question that Assange is annoyingly arrogant and a relentless publicity-seeker. But Assange’s real crime is “lèse majesté,” a French offense of annoying or embarrassing the monarch. Washington is reacting like Putin or Lukashenko.

We now wait with bated breath to see if those naughty Pussy Riot girls are locked away in one of Russia’s ghastly prisons; if Lukashenko’s air force bombs Sweden’s teddy bear factory; and if Uncle Sam moves heaven and earth to squash the annoying pest, Julian Assange.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2012

This post is in: Great Britain, Russia, USA


  1. Pussy Riot and the teddy bear drop were interesting because both were messages delivered as physical acts in physical time and space. These acts could have taken place at any time over the past hundred years. Conversely Assange and his inputs were delivered by, and continue to exist on, the internet.

    Western media are quite happy to expose protests that condemn other regimes like Russia and Belarus, but their corporate interests are far more aligned with US policies of secrecy: consider what happened when Murdoch was held to account and how far he would go to protect himself from exposure.

    Obviously Assange constitutes a far more dangerous and lasting threat to the status quo of one or more major powers. Wasn’t this exactly what many of us expected to see with the internet, that it would open up the world for examination beyond what we were fed by authorized propaganda machines? Wasn’t this exactly the kind of thing we wanted to use the internet for? Or has everyone become so hypnotized by Facebook and silly cat videos that we can’t see the future that Assange might represent?

  2. George Rizk says:

    I find it difficult to see that Bahrain jailed a peace activist, and no complains from America or England, yet here we have this fellow hiding in an Embassy, and England is attempting to invade that embassy like barbarians, as the U.S. is looking the other way.

  3. Iran may be getting too close to some form of atomic weapon and that would level the playing field in the ME. Israel is so used to unilaterally calling the shots, that it will do anything to stop any changes to that imbalance. AIPAC put the US in their back pocket as was clearly visible, when Netanyahu came to the White House and gave Obama that humiliating dressing down, right in his own house
    Assange may be sitting on some very explosive info, that would blow the lid of their dirty tricks and expose them for what they are and do to the world. It may even name the villains, who created this worldwide financial crisis and all the problems in Europe. That would be enough to trigger a worldwide revolution, which seems preferable to its alternative ‘Armageddon’, which WW3 would definitely turn out to be.
    Ever since I watched that video, that came up, when I googled for ‘international bankers’, it was called ‘The money masters’ and took over three hours to watch, I started to look at the world of politics and finance in a whole new way.
    Getting Assange out of the way will keep the festering criminal garbage under the rug long enough to accomplish, what seems to be the main plan and that is to create a worldwide dictatorship. That is not, what I wanted to leave behind for posterity.

  4. I really get a bang watching the US government and its cheerleaders working themselves into a frenzy over Julian Assange. As Eric says, Wikileaks really hasn’t exposed the US military and CIA to anything other than embarrassment and ridicule. For the UK authorities to threaten to storm the Ecuadorian embassy in order to arrest Assange over such trumped-up accusations, it’s obvious that their government is being strongly pressured by the Americans to clear the path to his eventual extradition to the US. In Ecuador’s case, it is taking a calculated gamble by granting asylum to Assange; but it’s a gamble worth taking, because that country can probably afford it.

  5. MiddleEastMan says:

    Most of this article is “hogwash”. It seems that many commentators are being sucked in by Assange in creating a diversion from the claims against him in Sweden–which should be an insult to women around the world. Britain is angry because both they and assange agreed to and followed legal proceedings to decide the extradiction issue. If Assange had no intention of abiding by the law, he should not have wasted the British taxpayers’ money. I agree that he is arrogant and it seems that he feels that he is above the law. As for America, since he is not a citizen, I doubt if he could be tried for breaking US laws. There are no charges pending against him and there is no international arrest warrant out for him that obligate Sweden to extradite him to the US. While Wikileaks’ original purpose might have been admirable, the disclosing of private information solely to embarrass are damage reputations is not. Assange is just another sleazy guy. I am dissappointed that with all of his years of experience, Mr. Margolis was not able to recognize the subterfuge.

    • I’m surprised that no one has challenged this posting. The whole issue with Assange is to get him to a ‘friendly’ country so he can be extradited to the US to face charges of treason or worse. Once in the US, he can be executed.

      The alleged rape allegations, and there have been no charges filed, stem from a period of five years ago, and the alleged victims have only ‘stepped forward’ once the Americans showed an interest in Assange. Not one complainent but two! One has to ask the question if the ‘victims’ are paid provocateurs of the US. Initially the complaint was filed in the big round basket where it rightly belongs.

      Margolis, as usual, is right on the mark with this article. Assange has shown the Americans for being the ‘two faced’ bullies they really are. The Brits, moreover, are showing themselves to American stooges.

  6. solum temptare possumus says:

    So long as the Internet is free the dissemination of information will cause the secrets to be brought into the light and the secretive to scurry into the shadows.
    Just as a religion can withstand vilification and ridicule, and a cult or tyrant usually will not; one wonders why the US would act as both of the latter?
    Three members of the Russian female punk rock band have been sentenced to two years for hooliganism. In response the Russian Orthodox leaders have asked the court for clemency; to separate the sin from the sinners. A world religion in which the leaders have walked into the light.
    Putin will appear to be lenient while behind the court he will influence a verdict that will be most favourable to his autocracy, and the plutocracy of himself and his cohorts.
    Again it appears that a rational thinking mind must ask, “who stands to benefit – cuo bono”, …under the guise of the silly season?
    To common sense – ad iudicium

  7. I find myself in a pride of lions who are wild for a taste of human flesh; Their teeth are lances and arrows, their tongues are sharp daggers.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.