An example of national courage, even with no national interests at stake

Summary:  Relations between nations usually consist of boring dances combining crass self-interest with craven obsequiousness (by small nations) or brutal assertiveness (by largers). Today we have a refreshing break in the pattern, as Ecuador defies the United States (and its tame dogs, Sweden and Britain).

LOST! Please call if seen in America.

From Reuters today:

“Ecuador has decided to grant political asylum to Julian Assange following the request sent to the President,” Patino told a press conference in Quito. He argued that Assange’s personal security was at risk, extradition to a third country without proper guarantees was probable, and legal evidence showed he would not have a fair trial if eventually transferred to the United States.  “This is a sovereign decision protected by international law. It makes no sense to surmise that this implies a breaking of relations (with Britain),” Patino added.

US commentators featured in the news — almost all flag-waving robots, de facto stenographers of the government — went into a frenzy of disinformation about the obvious truth of Minister Patino’s statement.  Ignored in the propaganda torrent is that Assange has not been accused of rape, but a far vaguer “sexual misconduct”. That this is obviously a US-driven program of retaliation against him — and to damage Wikileaks. And that since 9/11 fair trials are a thing of the past in the US for those the government considers its enemies, as most judges have become their boot-licking servants.

We covered this in real-time on the FM website, in the posts below.

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Masons are working to correctly label American court buildings

About this form of 4GW in the 21st century: Using covert operations to discredit your enemies

Posts about the Julian Assange affair:

  1. Sad news about the CIA, 23 August 2010 – Delusional assumption about America savvy.
  2. The full story of the rape charges against Julian Assange of Wikileaks, a possible covert op., 27 August 2010
  3. Update to the Wikeleaks rape story, and why it’s important, 29 August 2010 – If a covert op, it’s working
  4. New and strange developments in the prosecution of Julian Assange (Wikileaks), 1 September 2010 – New but not more enlightening.
  5. Endgame for the affair Assange: a big win for the government, 27 September 2010
  6. The US government successfully smears Wikileaks, while America sleeps, 22 October 2010

27 thoughts on “An example of national courage, even with no national interests at stake

  1. I believe that the swedes haven’t even charged him with a crime, yet. So asking to extradite him is highly unusual. Sweden has a history of bending over backwards to support illegal extraditions, such as its helping CIA by rendering 2 suspects to Egypt to be tortured.

    Assange has no reason to expect justice from the US; it’s not “justice” he’s trying to avoid – it’s a kangaroo court and abusive treatment.

    1. (1) Sweden has a different system than the Brits. I believe the UK ruled that Sweden had done the equivalent of a formal charge in the UK against Assange.

      (2) Ranum goes to the heart of the matter.

      (a) I doubt that Assange w/b disappeared. He’s too high-profile. But the odds of this are not zero. The US government has assassinated a US citizen, w/o charge let alone trial. Publicly, boastfully. We’ve crossed that line, and so we should expect them to cross other formerly unthinkable lines.

      (b) I agree that the likly scenario is abusive captivity — the normal conditions in a supermax are horrific — and another in the long series of post-9/11 show trials. The judge rules much of the defense inadmissible. The judge rules that the US government can lie at will, and introduce conclusions based on unstated secret material. The judge rules almost automatically in favor of the government’s motions, and equally so against defense motions.

  2. Anyone feel like making a guess on how long it’s going to take the US government to start a smear campaign against Ecuador?

    To say the very least, the US government does not take kindly to being thwarted and taking “no” for an answer is not something they’re used to or good at

    1. The informal smear campaign has already started, as critics have used Assange’s asylum bid as an opportunity to chastise the Ecuadorian government for infringing freedom of the press. Assange’s integrity has also been questioned on account of his relationship with the Kremlin-sponsored Russia Today. It will be quite easy for US government propagandists to cherry-pick anecdotes of official Russian or Ecuadorian wickedness, if they aren’t already directing nominally “independent” press coverage of the Assange affair from behind the scenes.

      The underlying logic is that Assange is guilty by association, i.e., that he is hypocritical or duplicitous for availing himself of opportunities to make his case through channels maintained by disreputable regimes. This is a disingenuous argument to make about a man whose own government (Australia) has tried to throw him under the bus while two other governments (Britain and Sweden) simultaneously cave in to covert pressure from a fourth (the US) to take prejudicial legal action against him as a means of retaliation for practicing journalism. It is foolish and self-destructive for a person in Assange’s position to insist that his allies be as pure as the driven snow.

    2. All sad but true.

      The news media and US geopolitical experts love these opportunities to grandstand in support of US government info programs. Tonkin Gulf, Saddam’s nukes, Iran’s nukes, domestic terrorist plots — all uncritically, even mindlessly, applauded and echoed.

      It’s what they do best these days.

    3. Here’s a useful data point on the Assange smear campaign: “The Creepy, Lovesick Emails of Julian Assange“, Adiran Chen, Gawker, 16 December 2010.

      Shorter version: Julian Assange is an odd dude who can be creepy around women.

      Gawker is probably as reprehensible as any extant English-language news outlet. It is devoted to the basest, snarkiest sort of gossip imaginable and drips with contempt for anything resembling civic virtue or engagement. It simultaneously wallows in the gutter and makes condescending, authoritarian pronouncements about how private citizens should be more servile. A few months ago, for example, when two British tourists were detained and deported by customs officers at LAX because they had engaged in blatant hyperbole on the internet (including threats to “destroy” LA and disinter Marilyn Monroe’s body), Gawker’s attitude was that the idiots should have watched what they said. Even by American press standards Gawker gave US Customs a pass.

      The really scary thing is that Gawker is extremely popular. I’d say that it’s more dangerous than it looks because it’s easily manipulated by government propagandists who have dossiers on controversial figures. Gawker is exactly the sort of outlet that will jump at the opportunity to disseminate compromising information that has been selectively leaked by law enforcement or intelligence agencies. In a very real way it’s an American Pornosec, but worse.

    4. This is a great thread. Thanks for the background on gawker. I agree, their coverage of Assange has been typical of the old-school gutter press — but I didn’t know this was their market niche.

      As P T Barnum said, nobody goes broke underestimating the American public. It’s a weakness of our society, but probably one both minor and common (among western societies, at least).

  3. It would be lovely if a small country such as Ecuador was acting morally. Perhaps thereby punch above their weight as scandinavia sometimes used to do? A tremendous sign for the future culture of that place it would be.

    However, cautious scepticism must prevail. One may ask “cui bono”? How are their relations with China for example?

    1. “My understanding is the guy was offered a free condom from a bowl and he took two. Count em two! What part of “sexual misconduct” don’t you people understand?”

      ???

  4. When the first Swedish investigator interviewed the two girls making the complaint this is what one said. He was a lout because she offered him a free condom from a bowl of condoms and he took two. Not making this up.

    1. FM, I believe Peter was trying to point out how thin the original evidence of misconduct was against Assaunge. Everything I’ve seen so far indicates that this is a tiny molehill blown up to be a life-threatening mountain for Assaunge. I wonder how much it cost the US to do this?

    2. Understood.

      I too have wondered how much it costs to get other nations to act like dancing bears. Perhaps they enjoy the opportunity to lean on a foreigner, in a good cause.

    3. Truthfully, he should have vetted his lovers better. Anna Ardin isn’t exactly someone without a paper trail.

      “Beware of pretty faces that you find, A pretty face can hide an evil mind ” Johnny Rivers could have told him…

      But maybe he didn’t quite realize he was a “Secret Agent Man.”

  5. It’s a joke FM. Taking the second condom was the entirety of his misconduct. That’s why the first investigator dropped it. The current utter nonsense is tantamount to finding out that a child wanted for Halloween misconduct turns out to have taken two Snickers bars instead of one. I actually believe this is likely to describe the actual extent of Assanges “sexual misconduct”. A loaded phrase dripping with inuendo.

    1. I thought that it might be a joke. With my limited sense of humor, it’s often difficult to determine these things. It’s like going to concert when tone-deaf.

      The Affair Assange is a naked display of the US government’s power. Anyone in the “free world” can be destroyed at will.

  6. While I support Wikileaks in principle and I am definitely against the way the US has dealt with the whole situation, it is in my opinion a stretch to see Ecuador as acting selflessly in this matter.

    As an Ecuadorian American currently doing a lot of business down there I see the President of Ecuador and the actions he has taken in order to consolidate power as well as stifle what he sees as a “corrupt press” as very troubling. He talks a lot about freedom but only in the context of fulfilling his particular vision for the country, and anyone who stands in his way is either slandered or persecuted indirectly through the government. He has even mimicked the US by labeling tribesmen who oppose the government strip mining of ancestral lands as “terrorists”.

    His actions have more to do with him wanting to put Ecuador and himself in a more prominent position in international affairs rather than wanting to stand for justice.

    Just because certain people may be highlighting Ecuador’s own problems with freedom of expression in order to smear Assange and pursue the interests of those who want to shut down any form of whistle-blowing in the US government, does not mean that those problems do not exist. The sad reality is that there are few real heroes in this or any other story in international politics these days.

    In opposing the injustice of US foreign policy we must not embrace those who only do so out of their own narrow interests and perceived self-importance. We must stand for the rule of law, separation of powers, a free press, personal liberty, and social justice around the world.

    1. ” to see Ecuador as acting selflessly in this matter. ”

      Quite so. I seldom see an individually acting selflessly, and it’s a historic day when a nation does so.

      That’s a too-high bar to apply, IMO. It’s more useful to congratulate, even applaud, nations when they do good things. Despite they’re acting on the usual mix of high, medium, and low motives that characterize most human actions.

      We can trust that God will properly judge motives, when all things end.

    2. What about Ecuador’s record, as seen in the reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International?

      These organizations do good work. But demanding that good deeds be applauded only by Saints is a pernicious standard. We need to congratulate nations when they do good deeds no matter what their record. Perhaps it’s more valuable to encourage the sinners than the saints.

      That’s not a selfless position for an American to take. All of our good deeds could be wiped off the scoreboard by someone pointing to the dark deeds in our history.

      So let’s keep these things simple. Good actions, bad actions, grey actions. Applause, criticism, analysis & recommendations. That’s complexity enough for most of us.

    3. You are right, we should commend good acts, no matter where they may originate. But when the leader of a country does one thing on the international stage and then another domestically, or vice versa, I do not think it unreasonable to call that leader out on their inconsistency and push them to live up to their rhetoric.

      In terms of Assange, while I admire him for creating something as innovative and useful as Wikileaks, I also feel he let the movement for transparency become about him and after doing so, he let his own personal desires put him into potentially damaging situations which those who oppose him would undoubtedly exploit as they so obviously have.

      Maybe I do expect too much from leaders, but I don’t think we will have real victory if those who stand up against the status quo fail to adequately weigh their actions and how they will be perceived by the man on the street who will ultimately tip the scales one way or another.

      I think Correa and Assange have genuinely good intentions, but they both share egos that hurt their causes. Perhaps that is the curse of all great men who would be leaders, but that is precisely why we must hold them to a higher standard and check that ego as much as possible.

    4. Everybody sets their own moral calculus on these things, and nobody else has the standing to judge it. We can only discuss the operational implications of a specific yardstick. If I understand correctly, almost no nation or world leader — including the Pope — qualifies for moral action by your standards.

      For example all those wonderful speeches by US leaders about communist atrocities were max hypocritical until the mid-1960s, due to the US policy of state-sponsored terrorism oppressing African-Americans. Plus the frequent use of US military force to support the profits of US corporations in Latin America. Plus …

      Let’s just say you must be busy condemning lots and lots of things as hypocritical.

    5. I don’t expect pure moral action from most individuals, let alone world leaders who have to balance a myriad of interests and face no easy choices. We live in a flawed world full of flawed human beings. I do however hope that overall, the balance tilts towards right action and in the end more good is done than harm. I see that as being the case with the US during the Cold War, with Assange, with Correa, and yes the Pope. That does not mean however that we should fail to point out when people are being inconsistent, especially when they claim to stand for the values we care about. I’m not sure why you of all people would be opposed to such a position.

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