[My apologies for the formatting, but transferring material from a file to this new WordPress seems to produce very odd results.]
Julian Assange has exposed US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. For that we must thank him. His release of information, much of it via Chelsea Manning, deserves praise and support for showing us the reality of the world. The major Western powers are run by war criminals who should be in jail, not power.
revealed recent Western leaders like Bush, Blair and Howard for the liars and,
in my humble opinion, the unprosecuted war criminals they are. The Collateral
Murder video for example shows US troops shooting from a helicopter and killing
18 people (non-combatants, including
2 Reuters staff).
recent arrest in the UK and potential extradition to the US is part of the
fight back against these revelations by the American empire. It wants to punish
Assange for showing us the truth about our global and local leaders. It wants
to stop any future releases of information that undermines US imperialism.
It can do that if it gets Assange into its clutches and hits
him with a range of charges going far beyond the current one of “conspiracy
to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified
U.S. government computer”. These include treason (to which the death
penalty can apply) or being an enemy combatant, with life imprisonment.
Under the US UK extradition treaty there may be difficulties
in the US bringing these other charges after Assange is extradited, but it
appears these can be overcome with the agreement of the extraditing power, the
In the UK, Labour’s Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has opposed sending
Assange to the US, as has Labour’ Foreign Affairs spokesperson Diane
Abbott. She said Assange is ‘being
pursued because he exposed US wrongdoing‘. Absolutely correct Diane.
In Australia by comparison the Labor
Opposition (up to its eyeballs in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq)
has supported the Liberal Prime Minister and his wishy-washy comment that
Assange is receiving ‘standard
consular assistance’ from the Australian government. This is code for ‘the
Australian government is doing nothing to upset the US and will sell Assange to
Trump for a good relationship with the chief imperialist power’.
The difference between Labour in the UK and Labor in
Australia over Assange is that in the UK the Labour Party has a strong
left-wing base and strong left-wing leaders.
We must oppose Assange’s extradition to the US for telling the truth about the crimes of the American state. If Corbyn can do it, why not Shorten? If Greens leader Richard Di Natale can do it, why not Labor leader Bill Shorten?
If there were any justice those war criminals in charge of
the United States and other Western nations who invaded Iraq would be on trial
in the Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Instead, the person who exposed these crimes is liable to be
sent to the US for trial on trumped up charges.
This attempt to extradite Assange to the US is an attack on free speech.
Assange and Wikileaks won a
Walkley award from his journalistic peers in Australia for his exposés.
Silencing him in the US silences us all.
Silencing those who expose the lies and crimes of our
leaders is a time-honoured tradition in Western democracies. As neoliberalism
enriches the well off, suppressing dissident voices seems to have worsened over
the last few decades. Witness
K and the Timor Leste spying by Australia is a recent example, as are government
restrictions on social media, harsh and restrictive
defamation laws and the like. Forcing Melissa Parke out of the position as
the ALP candidate for Julie Bishop’s old seat for
the ‘crime’ of telling the truth and saying Israel is an apartheid state is
just another example of the decline of difference in our political debates
There is a downside to all this ‘Assange can do no wrong’ worship.
According to Anna
North in Vox:
‘In 2010, a Swedish woman initially referred to in the press
as Miss A said that Assange had tampered with a condom during sex with her on a
visit to Stockholm, essentially forcing her to have unprotected sex. She has
since spoken publicly under her name, Anna Ardin. Another woman, referred to as
Miss W, said that during the same visit, Assange had penetrated her without a condom
while she was sleeping.’
The Swedish authorities wanted to extradite Assange to
Sweden for questioning. It was this action that saw
Assange flee to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and claim asylum, a claim
that was granted. Assange claims the Swedish complaints were a ruse to get him
to Sweden and then to extradite him to the US. Various internationally
well-known left-wing figures agree. There is however no evidence that these
complaints stem from anything other than two women wanting justice.
If there is any lesson for the left to learn from the MeToo movement it must be to believe the women making the allegations of assault, domestic violence, sexual assault, rape or whatever they happen to be. For too long the patriarchal capitalist society, and with it, sections of the left, have not done this, or have not been prepared to do it.
We had a very recent example of this in the Geoffrey Rush defamation case (admittedly not a criminal case.) In this civil case, the judge dismissed the evidence of Eryn Jean Norvill as ‘neither credible nor reliable’. As she said in response to the decision:
‘I stand by everything I said at trial. I told the truth. I
know what happened. I was there.’
Not believing women is one of the consequences of the
oppression of women in capitalist society.
Their labour is worth less; their word is worth less.
The Swedish women have effectively been silenced by Assange
hiding out in the Ecuadorian Embassy. They did not get the chance to have their
stories or those of Assange tested in a criminal investigation, and possible
Sweden is investigating whether to
reopen the cases. As I understand it, the time for doing so in one case
does not end till August 2020. Until the
Swedish process is allowed to follow its course and produce whatever result might
flow from that, I believe the women.
Believing women is a good starting point in a capitalist society traditionally rigged against them. As UK Labour’s very soon to be Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn and Home Secretary Diane Abbott say, send Assange to Sweden, not the US.